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St. Louis Cardinals at Cleveland Indians series preview

Fresh off the latest divisional series loss, the Tribe now welcome the perennial playoff contending St. Louis Cardinals to Progressive Field.

Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter, two of the Cardinals hottest hitters
Kolten Wong and Matt Carpenter, two of the Cardinals hottest hitters
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The red hot Cardinals visit Progressive Field in the first of the interleague series of the year for the Tribe. The Cardinals have a comfortable lead in the NL Central as every other team is at .500 or below. They have lost three of their past five games, but that is after an eight-game winning streak, which included three consecutive walk-offs against Pittsburgh two weekends ago.

  • Tuesday's game is at 6:10 PM (Lynn vs. Carrasco)
  • Wednesday's game is at 6:05 PM (Lackey vs. Kluber)
  • Thursday's game is at 12:05 PM (Wacha vs. Bauer)

This series concludes a brief six game home stand. Following Thursday's day game, the Indians travel to Texas to take on the Rangers over the weekend. They will ocntinue the road trip in Chicago, taking on the White Sox for four games early next week.

Division Watch: Twins at Tigers, Royals at Rangers, White Sox at Brewers.

Team in a Box

St. Louis Cardinals

Offense

NL Rank

Pitching

NL Rank

2015 Record

22-9

Runs/Game

4.6

2nd

Runs/Game

3.1

1st

NL Central

1st

OBP

338

2nd

H/9

8.1

4th

Last 10

7-3

SLG

409

3rd

BB/9

2.7

6th

Last 30

21-9

Steals

16

8th

SO/9

7.9

6th

After struggling through the AL Central schedule, the Tribe now face the Cardinals juggernaut. They score at a very good clip, with a good portion of those runs coming via the double. The pitching staff has also been excellent, although Adam wainwright just had Tommy John surgery. Usually, pretty good defensively, the Cardinals are only tenth in fielding percentage and errors.

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Projected Roster

Pos

Player

Bats

PA

BA

OPS

wRC+

C

Yadier Molina

R

111

267

655

81

1B

Matt Adams

L

104

255

676

83

2B

Kolten Wong

L

121

336

898

143

3B

Matt Carpenter

L

124

333

1024

175

SS

Jhonny Peralta

R

132

292

799

118

LF

Matt Holliday

R

127

343

935

157

CF

Jon Jay

L

115

248

598

70

RF

Jason Heyward

L

125

259

683

91

DH

Mark Reynolds

R

67

224

742

108

OF

Peter Bourjos

R

44

342

935

157

IF

Pete Kozma

R

27

160

382

-2

C

Tony Cruz

R

22

250

668

88

The Cardinals are one of the better hitting teams in the NL (second in wRC+), but this is with almost half of the lineup struggling. That just shows how good Carpenter, Wong, Peralta and Holliday have been. Carpenter has been day to day recently so Reynolds may end up at third instead. Also, Jay has been nursing been nursing a thumb bruise so Bourjos may get the nod in center.

The hot sticks in the past week have been Wong, Holliday, Bourjos, Heyward and Molian, all with a 900 OPS or better.

Projected Staff

Player

Throws

ERA

FIP

IP

WHIP

K/9

John Lackey

R

3.20

3.16

39.1

1.17

6.4

Michael Wacha

R

2.09

3.62

38.2

1.03

4.4

Lance Lynn

R

3.82

2.45

35.1

1.27

10.7

Carlos Martinez

R

4.89

4.93

35.0

1.46

9.0

Tyler Lyons

L

4.82

2.94

9.1

1.50

11.6

Trevor Rosenthal

R

1.15

2.71

15.2

0.96

10.9

Matt Belisle

R

1.93

2.80

14.0

1.43

6.4

Kevin Siegrist

L

1.32

2.35

13.2

1.24

10.5

Seth Maness

R

3.38

3.16

13.1

1.28

5.4

Randy Choate

L

3.38

1.84

5.1

1.13

8.4

Carlos Villanueva

R

0.66

3.74

13.2

0.73

8.6

Mitch Harris

R

1.04

3.73

8.2

1.50

5.2

Miguel Socolovich

R

0.00

2.16

2.1

0.67

11.6

As the Tribe hasn't faced the Cardinals since 2012, many of the staff have very little history against the Tribe. Lynn has never faced Cleveland. He got off to a great start with two or fewer runs in his first three starts, but the Cubs and Brewers each tagged him for five or more runs in two of his past three starts. Lackey has faced the Indians multiple times, going 8-8 in 19 starts with a 3.94 ERA. But he was very good in 2013 and 2014, allowing just six runs in 21.2 innings. Wacha, like Lynn, has never faced Cleveland. He has just one start this year with more than 2 runs allowed.

The bullpen looks very good as well with thankfully only two lefties. Only three of them have any history with the Tribe: Belisle, Choate and Villanueva. Belisle has a career 5.51 ERA in 16.1 innings, with most of that damage way back in 2006-07. Choate has a 3.27 ERA in 11 innings, but hasn't faced the Tribe since 2012. Villanueva has a 1.04 ERA in 17.2 innings, most of that in two dominating starts with the Blue Jays, but also hasn't faced Cleveland since 2012.

On the Shelf

  • SP Adam Wainwright [60 day DL], out for season
  • SP Jaime Garcia [15 day DL], possible late May return, on AAA rehab
  • RP Jordan Walden [15 day DL], possible midseason return
  • OF Randal Grichuk [15 day DL], possible mid-May return
  • 3B Matt Carpenter [day to day], possible return this week
  • OF Thomas Pham [60 day DL], no timetable for return

Almanac

W

L

Pct

RS

RA

Pythag

2015

-

-

-

-

-

-

2012

2

1

667

10

5

780

Last 5*

2

1

667

10

5

780

Last 10*

6

3

667

38

20

764

All-Time

8

4

667

62

32

770

Prediction: While there isn't a lefty in the rotation, I think the offense struggles with two of the three Cardinals starters. And picking a winning series against one of the better NL teams seems foolhardy. But as the Tribe has never lost a series against the big bad Cardinals, am not one to buck history. Tribe wins this series 2-1.