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Series preview: Cleveland at Cardinals

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This road trip is for the birds

St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals, much like Cleveland, have been devastated by injuries through the first two months of the season. They sit 2.5 games back from the National League Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers but are loaded with talent on the wrong side of 30, and some of their biggest contributors approaching their 40th birthday.

Do they look to add to their core of Dylan Carlson, Nolan Arenado, Tommy Edman, and Paul Goldschmidt for another run at the World Series? Probably, because being a baseball town with virtually unlimited funds there is no reason for them not to keep competing. But with all the injuries they have sustained, it might also make sense to take a step back and rejuvenate a farm system that was ranked 17th coming into the season by MLB Pipeline. They’re just kind of in a weird spot right now.

Arenado, whom they acquired for a truckload of prospects in the offseason, could opt out after this season or 2022, but he would be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the nine-year, $275 million contract he signed with the Rockies as a 28-year-old. Dylan Carlson is their youngest offensive star at just 22 years old and he certainly looks like a bonafide major-league after a disappointing rookie season in 2020. Paul Goldschmidt is still Paul Goldschmidt, even if the first signs of a decline are starting to show.

The problem is, as of this writing, the Cardinals have 10 players on the injured list, including three on the 60-day IL. May was particularly brutal, with Paul DeJong, Harrison Bader, Jack Flaherty, Jordan Hicks, and Kodi Whitley all going down with injuries, mostly soft-tissue related. They have the depth on offense to sustain the losses, but their pitching staff was paper-thin as it was. Now it’s nothing but shredded two-ply.

But again, like Cleveland, the Cardinals are in no way out of it. They’re struggling, losing five in a row and seven out of their last 10, but they might just have another positive run in them. And after watching Cleveland get demolished by the Orioles, I don’t feel safe saying any team is beatable at this point.

Team at a glance

  • Record: 31-29
  • Runs Scored: 254
  • Run Differential: -18
  • Last 10: 3-7
  • Slash: .231/.302/.391
  • wOBA: .301
  • wRC+: 93
  • ERA: 4.26
  • SIERA: 4.72
  • K-BB%: 9.2%

Projected starters

Tuesday, June 8, 8:15 p.m. ET: RHP Carlos Martínez vs. Shane Bieber
Carlos Martínez has been lucky enough to avoid the injury bug, but he also hasn’t been very good so it’s kind of a wash. He’s only 29, but having debuted in 2013, he already has nine years and 938.2 innings on his arm. Martínez throws a four-seamer, slider, and cutter primarily, with a sinker and changeup mixed in on occasion — don’t look for much vertical drop on any of his pitches.

Wednesday, June 9, 8:15 p.m. ET: RHP Adam Wainwright vs. J.C. Mejía
You could tell me that Adam Wainwright is 23 years old or 53 years old and I would believe you either way. He seems like he has been in the league forever, yet is somehow ageless as he now takes the mound as a 39-year-old and still just as effective as ever. Wainwright’s 21.6% strikeout rate would be his highest since 2018 over a full season, and he can still spin a curveball like few others in the league. He throws that 2829 rpm curve the majority of the time (33.4%), and he pairs its big vertical drop with a sinker-cutter combination that he works on the outer edge of the zone.

Lineup highlights

3B, Nolen Arenado - Nolan Arenado is on pace for one of his best seasons ever, he’s in one of the biggest markets in the sport, yet somehow he’s been talked about less than ever. That could be subjective, of course, but for a guy slashing .287/.333/.522 (132 wRC+) with 11 home runs through 59 games, he doesn’t seem to come up much in discussing great starts to 2021. He’s not lighting up Baseball Savant with his exit velocity, but he never really has. He just plays a flashy third base, has a great approach at the plate, and rakes.

OF, Dylan Carlson - Dylan Carlson is sort of the anti-Bobby Bradley. He doesn’t have one super-elite tool like Bradley’s raw power, but he has the potential to be above-average to great at just about everything. That can make for a long, great career. He hits for contact, he has sneaky power, he can field, and he can run. The stolen bases haven’t come yet, but he’s still a great baserunner. After a slow start in 2020, he has flourished in his sophomore season with a .277/.360/.432 slash and six home runs in 58 games.

Roster

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Poll

How many games will Cleveland win against the Cardinals?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    2
    (21 votes)
  • 58%
    1
    (64 votes)
  • 22%
    0
    (24 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now