The St. Louis Cardinals have been the hottest team in the National League. They’ve won five straight series and finished up a sweep of Kansas City on Sunday, giving them eight wins in their last 10 games.
Their next opponent will be tougher than their last two though. The Washington Nationals are coming into town for a four-game series with the Redbirds, starting Monday night.
The Nats haven’t been as good as expected this season. They’re just two games over .500 and are currently third in the NL East. However, they still have a talented roster and some good arms in their rotation. Fortunately, the Cards will not catch Max Scherzer this time around, as he pitched on Sunday in Chicago, but they will still have their work cut out for them for much of the series.
Monday night, Miles Mikolas will take the hill against Tommy Milone to open the series.
Milone only has three starts this season. In those three starts, he’s 1-1 with a 5.50 ERA. His FIP is much better than his ERA at 3.93 and his WHIP isn’t bad at 1.167, but he’s still struggled in his starts. Throughout his eight-year career, Milone has been mostly used as a starter. However, in 2017 nine of his 17 appearances were out of the bullpen. He wasn’t very good in either role though.
Tommy has two starts against the Cardinals in his career. He’s won both games, posting an ERA of 3.46 over 13 innings, while striking out 10 and walking just two.
For the Cardinals, Miles Mikolas will look to continue what has been a great season to this point. He’s been one of the most effective pitchers in the National League. Mikolas is 12-3 with a 2.74 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 1.067 WHIP and 98 strikeouts to just 25 walks in 144.1 innings. He leads the lead in walks per nine innings at a mere 1.6.
This will be Miles’ first start against the Nationals. He made one appearance against them back in 2012 as a reliever and it didn’t go well. In just 1/3 of an inning, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk. However, the Nationals are a different team now, and Mikolas is certainly a different pitcher.
Tuesday night will bring the second game of the series. The Nationals’ veteran starter Gio Gonzalez will face off with John Gant.
Gonzalez is having his typical solid year. He had a couple of really outstanding years, like 2012 when he won 21 games and placed third in the Cy Young Award voting and last year when he won 15 and posted a sub-three ERA, but for the most part, he’s been what he is this season. Gio is 7-8 with a 3.89 ERA, 4.17 FIP and 111 strikeouts in 125 innings.
The Cardinals have struggled with Gonzalez over the years. He’s made eight starts against them and posted a 3-3 record, 2.35 ERA and struck out 50 batters over 53.2 innings. Tuesday will be a good test for the Cardinals’ offense.
Gant has had an up and down season. At the moment, he’s coming off one of the ups, a six innings one-run outing against the Miami Marlins in which he got the win. For the entire season, he is 4-4 with a 3.89 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 1.226 WHIP and 59 strikeouts in 69.1 innings.
Against the Nats, Gant hasn’t had much success in his two games. Both outings came in 2016 with the Atlanta Braves during his rookie season. The first was a relief appearance, in which he threw one shutout inning and struck out a batter. The other was a start and it didn’t go as planned. Gant went 1.2 innings and allowed five runs on a walk and six hits, one being a home run.
Game three will be played on Wednesday night and will feature the Nationals offseason acquisition Jeremy Hellickson and Cardinals’ rookie Austin Gomber.
Hellickson will be making his 18th start of 2018 for Washington. So far, he’s 5-2 with a 3.54 ERA and 4.09 FIP over 84 innings. His last time out, he gave up two runs over 5.2 innings in a loss to the Cubs.
This will be Hellickson’s first start against the Cards as a National, but he has faced them before, five times. All five appearances have been starts. He has a 3-3 record with a 4.13 ERA over 32.2 innings against St. Louis.
Washington’s offense will get their first look at Austin Gomber in this game. Gomber has stepped into the rotation for the Cardinals recently, after spending most of his big league time in the bullpen earlier this season. In his last outing, he threw five shutout innings in a win against the Royals. On the season, he has a record of 2-0 with a 3.45 ERA, 4.47 FIP, 1.309 WHIP and 26 strikeouts over 31.1 innings pitched.
The final game of the near week-long series will be pitched by Tanner Roark and another rookie, Jack Flaherty.
Roark is in his sixth big league season. He leads the Senior Circuit in losses with 12 and hits allowed at 140, but he can still be very tough like he has been in his last four starts. Despite being just 7-12 with a 4.12 ERA for the season, Roark has won all of his last four starts, combining for 29.2 innings and surrendering just four runs.
In his career against St. Louis, Tanner hasn’t been so good though. Over five games, three starts, he is 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings. He’s allowed 21 hits and seven walks to only 10 strikeouts in those fifteen innings. The Cards will be looking to continue this trend on Thursday night.
Jack Flaherty has probably been the Cardinals’ rookie of the year. He’s 6-6 with a 3.22 ERA, 3.89 FIP, 1.084 WHIP and 127 strikeouts in 103.1 innings. He also became just the second pitcher in Cardinals’ history to have two 13 strikeout performances in the same season. The other was Bob Gibson. In his last outing, Flaherty struck out nine over seven innings and allowed two runs in a win against Kansas City.
Like Gomber, this will be Flaherty’s first appearance against the Nationals.
Featured Image by the St. Louis Cardinals via Twitter
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