Just two weeks after losing the first four games of a five game series in Pittsburgh, the St. Louis Cardinals will play host to the Pirates beginning on Tuesday night with plenty on the line. The Cardinals trail the Pirates by just three games in the division race despite not playing very good baseball of late.
The Cardinals are just 5-13 in the team’s last 18 games and as Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch pointed out, the team is 29-31 since June 4.
If there ever was a time for the Cardinals to heat up and get back to the winnings ways of April and May, the time would be now with the Pirates in town. Here is a break down of the pitching match-ups for this three-game set.
Adam Wainwright (13-7) vs Charlie Morton (4-3)
The Cardinals pushed Wainwright back a few days from his scheduled start on Saturday to give him some more rest. Wainwright has been decent over his last several starts, but is winless in his past three starts, dating back to when he beat the Padres on July 21 with an eight-inning gem.
While Wainwright has not been sharp of late, the advantage still goes to the Cardinals in this match-up as the Cardinals roughed up Morton for five earned runs in six innings a few weeks ago in the one game the Cardinals salvaged in the brutal five game set.
Shelby Miller (11-7) vs Francisco Liriano (12-7)
Miller is coming off the freak accident injury where he left after just two pitches thrown after a Carl Crawford line drive caught him square on the back of the elbow. Miller somehow has managed not land on the DL, but what can the Cardinals expect from him the first time out after the incident? Who knows…
Meanwhile, Liriano got roughed up his last time out against the Colorado Rockies, but was dominant when he faced the Cardinals in Pittsburgh two weeks ago. Advantage Bucs.
Lance Lynn (13-6) vs A.J. Burnett (5-8)
Lynn has pitched well his last three times out, despite a seventh inning collapse over the weekend against the Chicago Cubs. He still has posted a quality start in his last four consecutive outings.
Meanwhile, for whatever reason, Burnett seems to own the Cardinals and have their number. The Cardinals are hitting just .132 off the Pittsburgh ace in 20 innings and Burnett is 2-0 against the Cardinals this season. Advantage Bucs again.
- David Freese, who has primarily hit fifth in the Cardinals lineup since Yadier Molina went to the disabled list, is hitting just .233 with runners in scoring position.
- On the flip-side, shortstop Pete Kozma, who is hitting just .232 on the season, is hitting .330 on the year after with runners in scoring position after his huge hit on Sunday
- Jon Jay is hitting .325 with an .813 OPS since the All-star break
Corey Rudd is the owner of StlSportsMinute.com (@stlsportsminute) and the host of “Fan Interference” on CBS Sports 920 AM in St. Louis. You can follow his personal account as well (@CoreyRudd).