It was dark when the group had finally reached the inn. The travelers were weary from journey and their bodies ached from the miles-long trek through the muddy country-side. The light from the inn glowed bright — a beacon with the promise of food and a warm bed to rest in. They were the furthest they had ever been from home and their journey had only just begun. Before they could enter their long-awaited destination, a cloaked arm shot out from darkness of the alleyway. Shortly after the cloaked figured at the end of the arm appeared in the light completely to block their entrance.
“What do you want and where do you come from?” the gruff voice asked.
“We are just making our way to the inn here,” Jordan Walker responded, “We are making our way east and cannot continue further tonight.”
“Rookies! Four rookies, and from St. Louis by the looks of it,” the apparent doorman said more to himself than anyone else as he studied the group from under his hood. He slowly opened the door for them and allowed them inside.
The scene inside was a stark contrast to their initial greeting. The innkeeper was a jovial man and when the rookies requested some rooms and a meal he quickly went to showing them to the dining room and introducing them to some of the regulars. The group was soon the center of attention. Perhaps it was a lingering concern from the initial experience with the establishment, but something made the hair of the back of Walker’s neck rise. His eyes flitted about the room before landing on the source of his discomfort.
“Who is that?” he whispered to the innkeeper, “I don’t think you introduced him.”
“Him?” the innkeeper whispered back, “I don’t rightly know. He’s a contract. He seldom talks. What his right name is I’ve never heard, but he’s known ‘round here as Goldy. Funny you should ask about him.”
It was at that moment Goldy caught Walker’s gaze and, to Walker’s surprise, motioned the group over to him. As Walker approached, Goldy slowly pulled back the hood of his cloak to reveal dark hair flecked with gray and dark brown eyes.
“I am called Goldy,” his voice rumbled in a soft-spoken way, “I am very pleased to meet you, Mr. Walker.”
“It is a pleasure,” Walker responded, though his heartrate accelerated under the man’s sharp gaze.
At that moment the door slammed as Masyn Winn ran in and locked the door behind him.
Winn took a shallow breath. “It’s the Phillies, Jordan! I saw them!”
“Which way did they go?” Goldy asked, his voice level and stern.
And with that, Goldy picked up a bat and strode out of the inn.
The St. Louis Cardinals will take on the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend. The Phillies are 79-67 and in second place in the National League East. The Atlanta Braves have clinched their division so the Phillies find themselves vying for a Wild Card spot. They are holding on to the first NL Wild Card, two games ahead of the Chicago Cubs and four ahead of the San Francisco Giants.
Scheduled to take the mound against the Cardinals are Aaron Nola, Ranger Suárez, and Taijuan Walker. Of the three, Nola has pitched the best this year, even though it is a step back from his success in previous seasons. Not much has changed about him since I wrote the preview when these teams met in August. His 4-seamer and curveball are his best pitches and he also throws a sinker, changeup, and cutter.
Ranger Suárez is a lefty that throws a sinker, 4-seamer, curveball, changeup, and cutter. Back in 2021 he had one of the most valuable sinkers in the game, but this year it seems to be catching more of the plate. His curveball has been his most valuable pitch, per Baseball Savant’s run value metric. Her has a 3.93 ERA and 3.92 FIP.
The Cardinals face Taijuan Walker and his splitfinger on Sunday. He also throws a sinker, cutter, and 4-seamer, along with a rare curveball. Seemingly after some injury issues in 2018, 2020 Walker made the switch away from primarily throwing his 4-seamer to the splitter in 2020. He has a 4.30 ERA and 4.53 FIP this season.
The best hitter for the Phillies is still Bryce Harper. Kyle Schwarber is hitting for 121 wRC+ and has smacked 43 homers this season. Bryson Stott and Trea Turner have provided solid offense and defense up the middle. Overall, the Phillies are a very solid team.
Friday, September 15 at 7:15 pm CT: Aaron Nola vs. Zack Thomspon
Saturday, September 16 at 7:15 pm CT: Ranger Suárez vs. Miles Mikolas
Sunday, September 17 at 1:15 pm CT: Taijuan Walker vs. Dakota Hudson