The Cardinals and Braves are set up for the rubber game of their three-game series on Sunday night. Adam Wainwright will take the mound for the Cardinals, opposite of Atlanta’s Jake Odorizzi. Entering play Sunday, the Cardinals have a six-game lead over the Brewers in the Central, while the Braves are three back of the Mets in the East.
The Cardinals and Braves game will be the ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ telecast on ESPN. Ahead of the matchup — a potential postseason preview — reporter Jesse Rogers answered a few questions for VEB:
VEB: Albert Pujols is inching closer to the elusive 700 home run plateau. With the regular season dwindling down, do you think he will make it?
JR: It's really tough to say since he’s not an everyday player. It’s all about the at-bats. If he gets a decent amount of playing time in the last month, I think he’ll do it. With the Cards on top of the division and not being pushed right now, Oliver Marmol can be a little liberal with Pujols’ playing time. If he’s within 2-3 with a couple weeks to go, I think he’ll play nearly every day. Or at least get an AB every day. Plus, he’s been pulling a lot of balls, seemingly going for the long ball more and more. So I say, yes, he does it.
VEB: Paul Goldschmidt is the front runner for NL MVP and has a legitimate shot at the Triple Crown. His teammate, Nolan Arenado, will likely receive some MVP votes as well. Are Goldy and Nado the best first and third duo in the game today?
JR: They were at the top before this season began. Their opponent this weekend sports a pretty good duo in Matt Olson and Austin Riley but I’d take Arenado and Goldschimdt. The sum of all their skills, both at the plate and in the field, is second to none. The third best 1b/3b combo might be in Cleveland where Josh Naylor and Jose Ramirez reside.
VEB: The Cardinals acquired two left-handed starters at the trade deadline in Jose Quintana and Jordan Montgomery. The two arms have provided a huge lift to the pitching staff. The news of Yankees starter Nestor Cortes hitting the shelf came out a few days ago. We know they acquired Frankie Montas, but how did the Yankees justify trading Montgomery, knowing that a team can truly never have enough quality pitching?
JR: They overthought it. Simple as that. No matter what warts they may have seen in Montgomery — I can’t find many — they weren’t deep enough to make that move. To get better defense in center? I’ve never heard of a move like that – not for a starting pitcher. Didn’t like it the day it happened and don’t like it now.
VEB: This is Yadier Molina’s final season. The perineal All-Star and Gold Glove winner has been a staple in the Cardinals organization since 2004. Is Yadi’s resume dazzling enough to earn himself a Hall of Fame induction?
JR: Yes. Catching is the one position that it can’t be all about offense. No one comes close to him behind the plate during his era, which is usually the criteria for the Hall. Are you the best of your generation? He was. And that merits him a ton of consideration. No one ran on him and he’s a 10 time all-star. What he lacked in power, he made up for on defense. Plus, there’s all that winning in St. Louis while he played. Case closed.
Thanks again, Jesse!