When I think of a Phillies-versus-Cardinals series, nothing good comes to mind. I think of squirrels, torn Achilles tendons, and Adam Wainwright. With any luck, only one of those will occur as the Phillies play four games in St. Louis to kick off the week.
The Teams Coming Into the Series
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals (11-10) are coming off a clean three-game sweep of the Cincinnati Reds this past weekend. They stand two games back from the Milwaukee Brewers (13-8) in the NL Central and have been 5-4 at home so far this season.
In the last seven days, RF Dylan Carlson has performed exceedingly well to lead the Cardinals’ offense. The 22-year old owns a 1.187 OPS over that stretch with nine hits, including two triples. His insanely high .529 BABIP indicates that he will see some regression yet he will enter the Phillies series with momentum having gone 7-for-11 against the Reds.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis bullpen is led by closer Alex Reyes, who has recorded 5 saves and owns a 0.00 ERA on the year. He has, however, walked 10 batters in 9.1 innings of work. Overall, the Cardinals’ bullpen owns a 3.97 ERA, which is 12th best in the MLB, with opposing batters averaging .198 against them.
The Phillies (10-11) will enter into St. Louis deflated following a 12-2 getaway game defeat to the Rockies. The Phillies stand one game behind the New York Mets (9-8) in the NL East, a division that is underperforming like no other to start the year. Philadelphia will also enter the series with an atrocious 2-7 away record.
Similar to the rest of the NL East, the Phillies’ offense has been nothing but flat as of late. Scoring an average of 4.33 runs per game over the past seven days, there aren’t too many bright spots.
But there are bright spots. Veterans Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins both enter the series red-hot, with respective seven-day OPS’s of 1.405 and .952. Harper has hit three home runs in the last seven days (two yesterday vs. the Rockies) while Hoskins has ripped four. Meanwhile, young shortstop Nick Maton continues to make a name for himself, going 11-for-22 in the past seven days.
The Phillies’ bullpen is… well… better than last year. With a 5.32 ERA on the year, the Phillies are currently the 27th-worst bullpen. This is mostly due to the past week, in which the Phillies have been without both Archie Bradley and Jose Alvarado. In the last seven days, the Phillies’ bullpen owns a league-worst 6.54 ERA, allowing 39 runs and a league-high 14 home runs.
Closer Hector Neris possesses a 1-1 record with one save in the past seven days, having allowed one run on a home run in 2.1 innings of work.
First, the good news: the Phillies will not face Jack Flaherty in this series either!
They will, however, face Adam Wainwright and Carlos Martinez on Monday and Tuesday, Neither pitcher has a great ERA this season, but both are coming off of great starts against the Nationals last week. The seasoned veterans will face the Zac-tastic duo of Zack Wheeler and Zach Eflin.
The Phillies’ starter on Wednesday is still to-be-determined, but will likely be either Vince Velasquez or Matt Moore if he returns from the COVID-19 Injured list in time. Either way, the Phillies’ backend starter will face Johan Oviedo, who will make his first start of the year after making one long relief appearance earlier in the season.
Aaron Nola will pitch the getaway game on Thursday for the Phillies, coming off a four-run performance against the Rockies. Nola’s opponent is TBD but will likely be John Gant, who pitched six scoreless innings when that spot in the rotation came up on Saturday.
Series Prediction: Phillies Take 3 of 4
Everything on paper indicates that the Cardinals will likely win this series. They are red-hot following a series sweep and three of their four potential starters are coming off strong performances.
And yet, I have a feeling the Phillies will pull off a series victory. With Wheeler, Eflin, and Nola on the mound for three games, the Phillies should be able to manage St. Louis’ lineup effectively. Meanwhile, I expect Hoskins and Harper to remain hot, potentiallly lighting a fire under the rest of the offense in the process.
I predict the Phillies will win three out of four against the Cardinals in a hard-fought, close series.
Photo Credit: John Jones/Icon Sportswire