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Series Preview #17: Cardinals @ Diamondbacks

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Paul Goldschmidt returns to Chase Field....again

St Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
Paul Goldschmidt has a lot to be happy about
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

Paul Goldschmidt and the St. Louis Cardinals return to Chase Field for the first time since late September 2019. The 27-22 St. Louis Cardinals are clinging to a 12 game lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central. They broke a 3 game losing streak yesterday, defeating the White Sox 4-0.

The timing is not great for Mike Hazen, Torey Lovullo, and the Diamondbacks organization. The contrast between a successful Goldy on a 1st place team and a Diamondbacks organization that has spiraled into despair could not be more stark.

So how has Paul been doing ? Year to date he’s batting .255/.310/.404, .714 OPS, 101 wRC+. So right around league average. But he’s been much better recently. After a very poor month of April, he’s rebounded May.

April: 109 PA .214/.257/.340, .597 OPS, 68 wRC+

May:: . 94 PA, 306/.372/.482, ..855 OPS, 140 wRC+

It should be noted that since going to the Cardinals he has just a 119 wRC+ in 1116 PA compared to a 145 wRC+ as a D-back. Despite the obvious decline phase that was expected, if we care about Paul the person at all, we should be very happy for him. He’s in year two of a five year, $130M contract that he never would have gotten from the Diamondbacks. He’s playing in a great baseball city, for a great organization on a perennial contender. That said, he already had his moment of revenge September 23rd, 2019 when he homered in the 3rd inning of a game the Cards went on to win 9-7.

The big offseason story for the Cardinals was their acquisition of Nolan Arenado. While he’s cooled off of late, he’s been everything St. Louis had hoped for and more, batting .288 with 10 homers, 27 RBI, 138 wRC+ and 1.9 fWAR. His defensive metrics have fallen off from their previous lofty heights, but he’s still well above average with glove regardless. It will be interesting to see if he opts out of his contract or not after 2021. His contract runs another 6 years, $180M from 2022 on.

Yadier Molina, who will turn 39 in less than two months is having his best year at the plate in years, currently batting .288/.323/.542, 136 wRC+

CARDINALS RANKINGS

The Cardinals team rankings in batting, pitching, fielding, and run differential are actually middle of the pack in the NL, and they are just 5-5 in one run games and 8-8 in “blowouts”. But they obviously find ways to win more than they lose, unlike the Diamondbacks who do the opposite

Team Batting. 94 wRC+, 8th in NL

Team Pitching 100 ERA-, 8th in NL

Team Defense. +1.9, 8th in NL

Run differential. +6, 7th in NL

CARDINALS BULLPEN

Over at our sister sight, Viva El Birdos, a lead article right now is The Road to a good bullpen using no outside help . While fans of most MLB teams believe their bullpen stinks, some are more justified in that belief than others. The article mentions that the back end of their pen has been solid, which is true. While the Cardinals bullpen also ranks middle of the NL pack (between 6th-8th in fWAR, ERA-, FIP-), their rankings in the 7th-9th innings are much better, thanks to Closer Alex Rios, set up man Giovanny Gallegos, and lefty Genesis Cabrera. who’ve all been lights out. If you hope to get to their bullpen, you have to do it in the middle innings.

INJURIES

The Cardinals have not been spared. Here is their current IL List from Spot Trac. A rundown player by player can be found HERE. Some significant names there but it hasn’t kept them from winning games.

Dbacks injured list:

DIAMONDBACKS RANKINGS

As for the 18-32 Diamondbacks, well I could write another 1000 words about just how bad they’ve been. They’re losers of 10 straight and are 4-20 for the month of May. They are dead last in the NL West and National League overall, and are just a 12 game ahead of the Orioles for the worst record in the league. MLB Standings

They rank 28th in Fangraphs Pitching WAR, with the Bullpen being the worst in the league at 30th. The rotation, decimated by injuries, has hung in there, and currently ranks 19th in MLB. The offense ranks 20th in MLB, and 9th in the NL in wRC+ with 91. However situationally they rank 29th in BA w/RISP. The Defense ranks 12th in MLB, and 6th in the NL in advanced metrics at Fangraphs, and 15th in fielding %.

They are 1-10 in one run games, and 1-26 when scoring 4 runs or fewer. Uncle

STARTING PITCHING MATCHUPS

Note: The D-backs have only announced the starter for tonight’s game. Games 2,3,& 4 are still TBA

Thursday, May 27th, 6:40 P.M.

Carlos Martinez, 8 G, 47 IP, 4.18 ERA, 5.44 xERA, 4.34 FIP

Vs.

Jon Duplantier : 2019, 36.2 IP, 4.42 ERA, 5.41 xERA, 3.95 FIP

2021 Reno: 2 Starts, 7 IP, 6 ER on 8 hits, (1 HR) 5 Walks, 4 K’s

Martinez missed a couple of starts with an Ankle injury earlier this month. but pitched well in his return on May 21st, going 6 IP, allowing just 2 runs to the Cubs. His 4 Seamer averages about 93 now, down from 95+ a few years ago. He’s started throwing a cutter this year to go with his Slider, Change and Curve.

Matt Peacock was a last minute scratch due to illness, and Duplantier will get the start.

Friday, May 28th, 6:40 P.M.

Johan Oviedo 4 G, 15.2 IP, 5.74 ERA/5.55 xERA/6.07 FIP

Vs. Madison Bumgarner 10 G, 53. 2 IP, 4.53 ERA /3.40 xERA /3.86 FIP

The 23 year old Oviedo, who is from Cuba, was recalled to fill in for the injured Miles Mikolas. He is making his 9th career start. He averages 96 MPH on his 4 seamer and it has above average spin but below average movement. Go figure. His control is poor and he has very high walk rates for his professional career.

It’s interesting to see Bumgarner have better expected ERA and FIP compared to his ERA. He’s really pitched well since those first three starts, although he got banged around a bit in Colorado in his last start.

Saturday, May 29th 7:10 P.M. (Note the late start time)

Adam Wainwright 9 G, 54.2 IP, 3.95 ERA/3.47 xERA/4.45 FIP

Vs. TBA

The 40 year old Wainwright just keeps rolling along. He still has just about the best curveball in the business and he uses it a third of the time along with his sinker and cutter. He pitched a gem last time out, going 8 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit a walk, and striking out 7 fora game score of 86.

The team could turn to Seth Frankoff again or go with someone else. Frankoff got hit hard the last time he started and has given up 7 run in 8.2 IP on 10 hits, 2 homers and 5 walks. It looks Josh Green is making his start tonight in Reno so he wouldn’t bean option.

Sunday, May 30th, 1:10 P.M.

Kwan Hyun Kim LHP, 7 G, 32 IP 3.09 ERA/4.37 xERA/ 3.07 FIP

Vs TBA

The 33 year old Kim was a Korean League veteran and has been excellent for the Cardinals since joining them for the 2020 season. He missed the first 17 days of the season with a back injury but has been pitching well since. He gave up 3 ER in his first start, then just 1 ER in each of his next 5 starts before giving up 3 ER in his most recent start against the White Sox on May 24th. He throws a 89 MPH fastball that ranks as having below average movement, but somehow gets outs with it. I assume he locates very well. He throws his slider more than 13 of the time and that’s his main “putaway” pitch per his Baseball Savant

This was supposed to be Taylor Widener’s turn, and we’ll just have to wait and see what the team comes up with.