Series Preview: Phillies welcome Cardinals to say farewell to Pujols

Phillies Bryson Stott
Philadelphia Phillies’ Bryson Stott hits a run-scoring single against Atlanta Braves pitcher Ian Anderson during the second inning of a baseball game, Thursday, June 30, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Following an impressive win on Thursday night against the Atlanta Braves, the Phillies welcome the St. Louis Cardinals to town for a three-game series. The Cardinals have been one of the better teams in baseball this season and are locked in a battle with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central. The Cardinals enter the series with a 43-35 record.

MVP favorite Paul Goldschmidt will roll in tonight but he won’t be the first basemen Phillies fans are excited to see. Future Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols, returns to Philadelphia one final time. Hopefully, the Phillies can bounce back and send the legend and St. Louis home with a couple of losses. It would be nice to see the Phillies give a gesture of appreciation towards Albert. Since it’s his last season in the big leagues, it shows class to honor a Hall of Fame player in his final stop.

The Boston Red Sox honored Pujols in his final trip to Fenway Park

Beating Winning Teams

If the Philadelphia Phillies wish to be taken seriously as a playoff contender they must beat playoff caliber teams. They started to set the tone last weekend, taking three of four against the Padres. Losing two of three at home against the Braves can be seen as taking a step back. The Cardinals are in direct competition with the Phils in the Wild Card race. Beating their competitors will give them an edge down the stretch. Beating up on bad teams will only take the Fightins so far, and they’ve even struggled to complete that task in years past. Taking the series against St. Louis will not be easy, but it’s something the Phillies need to do to make the postseason for the first time in 11 years.

MVP Hunt

As previously mentioned, Paul Goldschmidt is making a run for the National League MVP. The 34-year-old veteran has been on a tear, hitting a career-high .342 heading into this weekend’s series. The six-time All-Star will most certainly be playing in the Mid-Summer classic this season and has put the Cardinals on his back. With Bryce Harper and Manny Machado hitting the Injured List, Goldy has a free and easy run for the award. The Phillies will have to try and quiet his bat in this upcoming series. Not many teams have had answers for Goldschmidt and when he does do damage, the Phillies have to be prepared to bounce back.

Probable Phillies & Cardinals Pitchers

Game 1:

Bailey Falter (0-2, 4.50 ERA) vs Miles Mikolas (5-5, 2.57 ERA)

The Phillies are going to miss starter Zach Eflin for an uncertain amount of time moving forward. With their significant lack of starting pitching depth, the Phillies will turn to Bailey Falter in the meantime. Falter has been impressive in Triple-A with the Ironpigs, having a 1.53 earned run average in six starts. Bailey has a 4-0 record and 33 strikeouts to 0 walk ratio. Having this version of Bailey Falter would be huge for the Phillies going forward.

Game 2:

Kyle Gibson (4-3, 4.28 ERA) vs Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 4.00 ERA)

The month of June was hot and cold for Kyle Gibson. He bookended his first and last start with 5 earned runs in each game. The Phillies could use the Kyle Gibson they saw in April and May for this series against the Cardinals. While the Phillies bullpen has been better as of late, it would be nice to see Kyle go six or more innings in Saturday’s matchup. The Phillies will need their best arms to win this series and having to toss guys like Jeurys Familia and Jose Alverado in the sixth and seventh innings will not go well. A bounce-back start for Gibby could go a long way in helping the Phillies win the series against St. Louis.

Game 3:

Zack Wheeler (6-4, 2.89 ERA) vs Adam Wainwright (6-5, 3.07 ERA)

Wheeler vs Wainwright on Sunday Night Baseball and a post-game firework show? Sign me up. Baseball fans are in for a treat in the finale of this three-game series in South Philly. Zack Wheeler has been dominant in his recent starts and should find himself inching closer to his second All-Star game bid with the Phillies. Adam Wainwright is still going strong and has gotten better with age in St. Louis. It is very likely the series will come down to the final game and the Phillies need Wheeler to have his best to take home a victory over the Cards.