Well, I might as well address the elephant in the room. Both Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado are missing both of the next two games in the series at Toronto due to not being vaccinated. This sucks. There’s no way around it. The Cardinals will be without their two best players against a difficult Blue Jays team while they are behind in the division and absolutely need every win they can get. Which has been made more difficult by their absence.
I could try to beat around the bush and talk my way around my true feelings so as to not alienate part of the audience reading this, but that would feel dishonest. There’s no situation where Goldy or Arenado look good doing this. There’s just not. Arenado said he was concerned because he wants to start a family (there’s no proof it affects fertility - six medical sources if you need them) and Goldy was significantly less specific about his reason.
All I’m hoping for at this point is two things: one, that the Cardinals split in Toronto, because I’ll feel their decision didn’t really affect the bottom line. It’s tough to ask for a 2-game sweep against a team like Toronto at full strength, and if they manage to win one of the two games, I’ll feel reasonably comfortable believing they’d do the same with Arenado and Goldy. The second thing is if the Cardinals were to somehow face the Blue Jays in the World Series, that the calculus will change for both and they’d get the vaccine at the appropriate time so they could play in the World Series. They’d both need to get it early enough in the playoffs that we wouldn’t actually know if they played Toronto. Like if both the Blue Jays and the Cardinals made the LCS, they’d need to get it right then and there. They couldn’t wait to find out since you need the vaccine at least 14 days prior to enter Canada.
Moving on, the Blue Jays are a tough matchup because they have one of the best offenses in the league. They are led, oddly enough, by their catching duo of Alejandro Kirk and Danny Jansen. Jansen has only had 87 plate appearances on the year, but both Kirk and Jansen lead the team in wRC+ with a 149. Imagine a catcher who could hit. It’s been a while. Vlad Guerrero Jr. “only” has a 134 wRC+ at first base and they have a trio of outfielders with between a 120 and 130 wRC+ in George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Their middle infield has been the average hitting, but solid defensively pair of Bo Bichette and Santiago Espinal. And rounding out the starting lineup is Matt Chapman, a slightly above average hitter with defense that rivals Arenado. So they’re pretty tough.
They don’t have a super impressive bullpen, but it gets the job done. Jordan Romano is their closer and while advanced stats such as xFIP and xERA suggest he’s more okay than dominant, his ERA is still 2.55 right now. Both former Dodger Yimi Garcia and Adam Cimber have become successful by avoiding walks with a good amount of strikeouts to match. David Phelps is still around and he’s another reliever with okay advanced stats but a low ERA. Tim Mayza is their go-to-lefty and they needed another one badly enough to grab Anthony Banda, who the Cardinals have used as their punching bag before this season. (8 earned runs in 5 appearances against Cards). Onto the matchups.
Tuesday - 6:07 PM
Jose Berrios (5.22 ERA/4.74 FIP/4.04 xFIP) vs. Andre Pallante (3.34 ERA/4.24 FIP/3.75 xFIP)
Berrios has had a very strange season. He’s had five starts with one strikeout or less, which for a guy with a career 23.6% K rate and a slightly higher K% than that in recent years, is very odd. But he’s also got two games this season with 13 strikeouts. He’s been kind of hit or miss. We faced Berrios already. He went 6.1 IP with three earned runs, 7 strikeouts and no walks. He actually entered the 7th with zero earned runs but was left in too long. Anyway, not really sure what he’s going to bring against the Cards, let’s hope it’s one of his off days.
He’ll be facing Andre Pallante, who has been in a bit of a funk. Ironically though, I’m more convinced he can be a starter than ever because of what he’s done in that funk. In his last three starts, he has an 8.16 ERA... and a 2.94 xFIP. No joke. His FIP is a less impressive 4.73, but considering a 33.3 HR/FB% in that span, that’s not too bad either. In his first few starts, he was Dakota Hudson - no strikeouts, too many walks, lots of groundballs. In his last three starts, he’s got a 20.3 K% and 5.8 BB% while keeping the groundballs - which would be way better than Hudson.
My pick: Cardinals
Wednesday - 6:07 PM
Kevin Gausman (3.00 ERA/1.98 FIP/2.74 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (3.40 ERA/3.99 FIP/3.95 xFIP)
Honestly, between Wainwright and Pallante, I’m hoping one of them can make a good enough start to give the offense a chance. I’m picking Pallante’s start, because while Berrios has been off in a decent amount of starts this year, Gausman has not. He has just one start - ONE - with more than three earned runs on the year. In 12 of his 18 starts, he has two earned runs or less. He has just 18 walks on the year so you have to somehow hit him to win.
But then again, maybe Wainwright is the better bet. In the past few years, he has continued to step up when they needed him, and they certainly need him to bring one of his best starts of the season on Wednesday. Gausman is going to be very tough to hit, and unless the offense surprises, Wainwright is going to have to be near flawless on Wednesday. Like I said above, I’m just hoping for one win in this series.
My pick: Blue Jays
Individual Game Record: 23-21
Series Prediction Record: 5-8
The Cardinals blowing that six run lead against Tony Gonsolin really, really ruined my prediction numbers. Anyway, I don’t really care if my individual game record goes to .500 as long as the series prediction goes up a win. Just find a way to win one game Cards.