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The St. Louis Cardinals will host the Minnesota Twins

A series preview

World Series - St. Louis Cardinals v Minnesota Twins - Game Six Photo by Rich Pilling/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals will begin their next series in St. Louis taking on the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are currently first in the AL Central — largely due to their strong pitching and defense so far this season. As a staff they are second in baseball in FIP at 3.82 and eighth in ERA with 3.88. Let’s take a look at the starters the Cardinals will be up against.

On Tuesday the Cardinals will face Pablo López, the Twins’ second most valuable starter this season. He is currently throwing a 4.13 ERA wit a 3.48 FIP and striking out 30.2% of batters, which is the fifth highest K rate in baseball. He throws a 4-seam fastball around 95 mph, followed by a sweeper and a changeup, and then mixes in a curveball and sinker. The sweeper is a newer pitch for López — according to Baseball Savant he dropped the cutter this season and began throwing the sweeper. It hasn’t been his best pitch according to Run Value, but it does have the lowest expected batting average against it among his pitches at .179.

The Cardinals face the third best starter for the Twins this season on Wednesday in Joe Ryan. Ryan is another big strikeout pitcher with a 29.6% K rate. He also walks very few batters with a 4.8% walk rate. He has given up a few more homers than López which has led to a bit higher 4.06 ERA and 3.77 FIP. He gets this done by throwing a 4-seamer nearly 58% of the time and following it up with a split finger. There isn’t a lot too special about Ryan’s 4-seamer — he likes to throw it at the top of the zone, but it only comes in around 92 mph — but he gets a lot of whiffs on it. The expected batting average against it is just .202.

There is no break for the Cardinals on Thursday when they line up against one of the top pitchers in league this season in Sonny Gray. Gray leads the Twins with a 2.93 FIP — third best in baseball — and has a 3.22 ERA. His strikeout rate is a bit lower than his teammates’ at 23.3% and he walks more hitters at 8.9%, but he has given up just 4 homers in 117 innings pitched this season. He throws five pitches at nearly equal intervals: a 4-seamer, a curveball, a sweeper, a sinker, and cutter. He has also infrequently mixed in a changeup at times. This season the sweeper has been his most valuable pitch per Baseball Savant. The expected batting average against it is just .161 and the Whiff percentage on it is 40.9%.

The team has also had some good relief pitching. Jhoan Duran is listed as their closer and has 2.66 ERA with a 32.9% K rate. Griffin Jax has been their most valuable pitcher with a 2.78 FIP in just over 44 innings. Brock Stewert has only pitch just under 26 innings, but has a 0.70 ERA and is striking out 35.4% of batters.

As an offense the Twins are middling. They are fourteenth in baseball in team wRC+ at 102. Their top offensive player has been rookie Edouard Julien. In 211 plate appearances he is slashing .298/.386/.536 for a 156 wRC+ and has a .238 ISO. After him is Ryan Jeffers with a 135 wRC+. Matt Wallner was recently recalled from AAA on July 17. Since then he has only hit for a .209 batting average, but has a .302 ISO with four homers.

And that’s what I have for the Twins! Pretty mediocre offense, but a solid pitching team and I didn’t mention the defense, but really strong up the middle with Christian Vazquez at catcher, Carlos Correa at shortstop, and Michal A. Taylor in centerfield. The Cardinals look a little bit different than they did the previous series. Let’s see how they fare.


Tuesday, August 1 at 6:45 pm: Pablo López vs. TBD
Wednesday, August 2 at 6:45 pm: Joe Ryan vs. TBD
Thursday, August 3 at 6:45 pm: Sonny Gray vs. TBD

I don’t know who this TBD guy is, but he is sure gonna be tired! [har har har slaps knee]