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Cardinals should continue keeping their fingers crossed against Milwaukee Brewers - A Series Preview

This is an important matchup and I for one am hoping for good things.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It is apparently impossible for the Cardinals to face the Brewers under lucky circumstances. No matter when and no matter how, they will always face the Brewers’ only good starters in a series. The Brewers in the past have had three elite starters, and the Cardinals always seem to have to face all three or at least two of them. Maybe the Brewers are really good at planning ahead.

Well, they don’t have to face two elite starters. But the Brewers have two great starting pitchers out of five and somehow the two great ones get to pitch in this series. I don’t know how the Cardinals have never gotten “lucky” and faced like two of their mediocre or bad pitchers in a three-game set, but I don’t think they have. The Brewers rotation includes Colin Rea, Wade Miley, and Adrian Houser and you can bet they face only one of them.

A couple of serious injuries happened since the last time the Cards’ faced the Brewers. Brandon Woodruff actually threw his last game against the Cards. He hasn’t pitched since. The Brewers are hoping he can return by the end of June. Garrett Mitchell had what is likely to be season-ending surgery. Given his 38 K%, he’s not quite the same level of loss as Woodruff.

Yelich has one very encouraging stat: his xwOBA. He has underperformed his xwOBA in his last three seasons, but usually it’s pretty close, with the exception of the 2020 season. But this year is wOBA is .328 and his xwOBA is .364. This despite taking a lot less walks. He is a perfect 8 for 8 in stolen bases. After Yelich leads off is Jesse Winker, who has so far been terrible. He has a 79 wRC+ largely thanks to just three extra base hits, none of them homers. I’ll still be scared to face him.

After a blistering hot start, Brian Anderson has had a 52 wRC+ since April 24th, but he’s still starting at 3B everyday. Brice Turang has also slowed down with a 79 wRC+ in his rookie season. Tyrone Taylor recently got off the injured list, but has a 31 wRC+ in his first 31 PAs. Rookie Joey Wiemer has a 68 wRC+. Basically, everyone but Rowdy Tellez (125 wRC+) and William Contreras (119 wRC+) isn’t doing as well as you’d hope. Their team wRC+ is at 19th in baseball, and they are actually 25th in baseball since the last time the Cards saw the Brewers. Their offense still sucks, in other words.

The Brewers’ bullpen has been.... bad. Their relievers have thrown 133 innings this season and have been exactly replacement level. Now granted, despite a 4.66 FIP and 4.43 xFIP (both rank 25th in baseball), they inexplicably have the 7th best ERA. Very annoying! But you know, this is the Brewers, this is just kind of how things work for them. Although I couldn’t really figure out why that big of a disparity exists. Devin Williams has been unbelievable. I guess Gus Varland of the 2.25 ERA and 5.91 FIP is partly responsible. Matt Bush was terrible (but had an 8.22 ERA) but is now injured. This is kind of a “Devin Williams is scary as hell, but the rest of the bullpen can be hit.”

My prediction game isn’t really working out this year. I’m going to scrap that for now. Some of that is just being wrong, and that’ll even out, but it’s more because when I was predicted games, the Cardinals kept losing. So I’m just going to not do that.

Monday - 6:45

Freddy Peralta (3.32 ERA/3.41 FIP/3.69 xFIP) vs. Jack Flaherty (6.18 ERA/5.65 FIP/5.04 xFIP)

This sounds like a worse matchup than it is. Flaherty has never pitched particularly well against the Brewers, for whatever reason, and Freddy Peralta is Freddy Peralta. But Flaherty pitches poorly against the Brewers in American Family Field specifically. I’m pretty sure he has no issues at Busch. In fact, he struck out 10 Brewers at Busch twice in 2019. Now.... it’s not 2019, so that probably isn’t a comfort to you.

The other thing is that Peralta has certainly had his moments against the Cards, but he has not really pitched well against them on the whole. The Cardinals’ players combined have come to the plate 130 times against Peralta, and have a slash line of .274/.344/.513 with six doubles, 7 homers, 11 walks, and 6 hit by pitches. They have a 24.6 K% against him which is actually really good considering he has a career K rate of 30%. So.... I don’t know if the Cardinals have gotten lucky, or just have a better idea of how to hit him, but he’s had trouble.

He did not have trouble last time out however.

Tuesday - 6:45 PM

Wade Miley (3.60 ERA/4.46 FIP/5.26 xFIP) vs. Jordan Montgomery (4.11 ERA/3.48 FIP/4.01 xFIP)

Wade Miley has not been the Wade Miley of old, not really., Well, let me rephrase that. There’s been a lot of variations of Wade Miley. Most of them have been fine. Acceptable. He is not the Wade Miley of 2021, who had an out-of-nowhere 3 fWAR season. He has his lowest strikeout rate since his rookie season, his lowest groundball percentage ever in the majors and to be fair, he’s also walking the second least amount of hitters ever. But still his 5.26 xFIP would be a career worst if it held and since he’s 36, it’s possible he doesn’t have it anymore. He did strike out 8 Padres in his start against them, so he is capable of being dominant still.

Let’s just hope Montgomery’s last start was a blip because he should be able to handle the Brewers’ offense.

Wednesday - 6:45 PM

Corbin Burnes (3.35 ERA/4.10 FIP/4.42 xFIP) vs, Adam Wainwright (7.20 ERA/5.09 FIP/4.39 xFIP)

I just would really like to know the difference between Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina or Albert Pujols. Because there’s been a very clear difference in how people respond to Waino that is more explicitly negative by a lot. And I’m talking first half Pujols. Sure there were moments were people wished they weren’t batting in a particular situation, but there just seems to be venom towards Waino having the audacity to want to still pitch in baseball games. It’s incredibly weird to me.

I don’t know, it’s hard to explain the tone that I’m just really getting frustrated by. As soon he starts struggling, people are annoyed he’s on the baseball team. When Pujols or Yadi failed, they were just “damn didn’t want to see him go out like this.” Yes there’s some of the latter sentiment inherent in the former opinion, but just from my perspective, it’s more hatefulness. Might be something to do with starting pitcher versus one spot in the lineup.

Anyway Burnes is a lot more hittable this year, at least so far. He had a bad first two starts that are mucking up his ERA, but it’s not affecting his advanced stats as much as you think. Since his first two starts, he has a 1.35 ERA, but also a 3.35 FIP and 4.10 xFIP. For a guy who had a 3.14 FIP and 2.85 xFIP last year, that’s still a huge drop. Also for a guy who was posting absurd K/BB rates in the past, he really only has one game like that. In four of his eight starts, he has at least three walks, and in two of the ones where he walked two batters, he struck out just 3 batters. Burnes is decidedly human... so far.

So, as usual the Cardinals face the Brewers with the worse pitcher in two of the three matchups. But hopefully, they can keep the ball rolling, because it’s going to get a lot harder in the series directly after Milwaukee.