If anyone has ever wondered how I go about writing these previews, here is a little sneak peak:
Step 1: Navigate to the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Reference page. At this point my browser knows that if I type in “b” that I am mostly likely headed to B-Ref.
Step 2: Have my eyes immediately drawn to the Game Results section:
Step 3: Get distracted by the Top 12 players.
Step 4: Be surprised at the Top 12 players and compare it to Fangraphs.
Step 5: Why does Brendan Donavan have more bWAR than fWAR? I should spend an hour trying to figure that out.
Step 6: Oh crud, the preview!
Anyway the Cardinals are playing the Philadelphia Phillies again. As you might have noticed above, the Cardinals have not been playing very well as of late. The Phillies have been playing the opposite. They took two of three from the Washington Nationals after they took two of three from the Cardinals last weekend after going 19-8 in the month of June. The big news was the loss of Bryce Harper to the Injured List after he was hit by pitch on June 25. stlcardsfan4 covered most of this in his preview last weekend.
The Cardinals will face two of the same starters they faced a week ago: Kyle Gibson and Zack Wheeler. That leaves two new pitchers: Cristopher Sanchez and Aaron Nola. If you have read enough of these previews you know what my next move will be... To Baseball Savant!
Cristopher Sanchez has made three major league starts and pitched just over 33 major league innings. Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin of Fangraphs had him listed at number 27 in their Phillies prospect ranking from January of this year. His stuff doesn’t seem too over-powering; he has thrown primarily a sinker and then mixed in a changeup and a slider. His pitches have pretty good movement and his sinker looks like a pretty good pitch for him. Whether that is enough to consistently keep a major league team off balance for a majority of a game is what remains to be seen.
Aaron Nola on the other hand has definitely kept hitters on their toes. He has been the best pitcher for Phillies this season and arguably their best player too. He has 3.15 ERA to 2.91 FIP and strikes out nearly 28% of batters while only walking 3.5%. He has made a name for himself over the years with a very good 4-seam fastball and a really good curveball. On top of all that, he seems to have also improved his sinker. It used to be one of his worst pitches per Baseball Savant’s run value, but it is now his third best at -7 runs. His three best pitches — 4-seamer, curveball, and sinker — are his most used. After those, he sprinkles in a changeup and the occasional cutter. He should be the Cardinals toughest customer in this series.
Friday, July 8 at 7:15pm CDT: Zach Wheeler vs. Adam Wainwright
Saturday, July 9 at 1:15pm CDT: Kyle Gibson vs. Dakota Hudson
Sunday, July 10 at 1:15pm CDT: Cristopher Sanchez vs. Andre Pallante
Monday, July 11 at 7:15pm CDT*: Aaron Nola vs. Miles Mikolas
*I cannot recall seeing a series go Friday-Monday like this before. It was certainly a surprise for me when I went to write this up!