It’s hard to believe, but the 2018 MLB regular season is winding down. The Cards have just nine games left, starting with three at Busch Stadium against their final non-division opponent, the San Francisco Giants.
The Cards are having a rough September, going 8-10 coming into the Giants’ series. They’re still holding on to the second Wild Card spot though by 1.5 games over Colorado.
San Francisco has had a tough year overall, but they’ve split the season series with St. Louis at two wins apiece. They’ve kept the Cardinals out of the post season in the past, as recently as 2016 when they beat the Redbirds out for the Wild Card by just one game. Even though they won’t be getting in themselves this time around, they’ll still be doing all they can to play spoiler for the Cards.
The series will open tonight at 7:15 CT. The Cardinals will send John Gant to the mound while the Giants are going with their ace Madison Bumgarner.
St. Louis’ offense will have it’s hands full in game one. Bumgarner has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past few years, dirt bike accident aside, and he thrives on games in late September and October.
This year Bumgarner has gone 6-6 over 19 starts, posting a 3.14 ERA, 4.09 FIP and has struck out 98 over 117.2 innings. He’s not been the pitcher he was between 2013 and 2016, but he’s still got the potential to throw nine shut out innings in any game. In his last outing he picked up a win against the Rockies by throwing six innings without allowing a run.
The Cards have faced Bumgarner once this season. Back on July eighth they got four runs in 5.1 innings off of him, but it wasn’t enough and they took the loss. Over his career, the big lefty is 4-5 with a 4.61 ERA against the Redbirds in nine starts.
At 7-6 with a 3.53 ERA and a 4.05 FIP over 17 starts John Gant has been a reliable middle of the rotation pitcher for the Cards. He wasn’t expected to play a major role in the rotation at the beginning of the year, but injuries forced the Cardinals’ hand.
The Dodgers roughed Gant up in his last outing though. He only made it through 4.1 innings and gave up six earned runs. That start raised his season ERA from 3.16 to 3.53. He did make a solid start against the Giants on July sixth however. The Cardinals lost the game, but Gant went six innings and only surrendered two runs. He has two other appearances against San Francisco in his career for a total of 10 innings and a 2.70 ERA.
In the second game of the series the Cardinals will get a second look at 26-year old rookie Dereck Rodriguez. Meanwhile, on their side, veteran Adam Wainwright will be making his seventh start of the year and third since coming off the DL.
Rodriguez is having an impressive first year in the big leagues. Over 17 starts and 19 total appearances he’s gone 6-4 with a 2.30 ERA, 3.36 FIP and 86 strikeouts through 109.1 innings. His last time out he went six innings and allowed three runs, only one of which was earned, in a loss to the Rockies.
The Cards have already seen Rodriguez once, back in the July series. In that game he pitched 6.2 innings, allowed just two runs and took a no-decision in what was a Giants win.
This isn’t the old Adam Wainwright, though it looked like it in his last start. After sitting out most of the season with the same elbow injury that has plagued his last couple seasons, Waino came back in a big way. A lot of people doubted that throwing him right back in the rotation was a bad decision, and it still might be, but for at least one start Wainwright quieted the doubts. He did have a below average start in his first since returning, against the Pirates, but his last time out he looked really good.
After his start against the Pirates didn’t go well, many of the fans and media thought his second would be even worse. That’s because his opponent wasn’t a fourth place team, this time it was the always dangerous Los Angeles Dodgers, who were right on the Cardinals heels in the Wild Card at the time. He didn’t back down though and struck out nine batters over six innings without allowing a run and picked up the win.
He’ll get yet another NL West opponent this time around, one he’s fairly familiar with. Waino has 13 starts and 15 total appearances against the Giants in his career, going 6-7 with a 3.15 ERA. Another thing to be aware of in this start is Wainright’s success in September and October. Over his 13 seasons he’s put up a 27-10 record and a 3.37 ERA when the games matter the most.
The series finale will be played on Sunday afternoon. San Francisco will get to face the Cards ace Miles Mikolas while they go with another rookie, Andrew Suarez.
Suarez hasn’t been as good as Rodriguez in his first season in the big leagues. He’s made 27 starts, but his 7-11 record, 4.24 ERA and 4.33 WHIP leave a lot to be desired. However, he was very good in his last start against the Padres. He went 7.2 innings in that game allowing just two runs and picking up the win.
This will be Suarez’ first ever appearance against the Cardinals. He missed them by one day in that early July series. As a team that tends to struggle with young left handed pitchers it will be interesting to see how the Redbirds handle seeing Suarez for the first time.
The new ace of the Cardinals staff, Miles Mikolas has done nothing but impress this year. Over 30 starts he has a 16-4 record. Miles also has a 3.01 ERA, 3.36 FIP and leads the league in winning percentage, shutouts and walks per nine.
His last start came against the Atlanta Braves. Mikolas threw five innings on 97 pitches in that game, allowing just two runs and striking out six. The Cardinals won the game and Miles picked up his team high 16th victory.
Like Suarez, Mikolas missed out on the July series, but he does have four appearances against the Giants from his time with San Diego. Over those four games he’s thrown 5.1 innings and has an ERA of 1.69. Sunday will be his first career start against San Francisco.
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