2016 Gameday

Series Preview: Phillies (15-10) at Cardinals (12-13)

saint_louis_cardinals_logo.jpgGaze, oh phervent phollowers of the Philadelphia Phillies, at this splendid sight atop the standings this day!

National League

  1. Chicago Cubs – 17-6
  2. Washington Nationals – 17-7
  3. New York Mets – 15-8
  4. Philadelphia Phillies – 15-10
  5. Pittsburgh Pirates – 15-10

And this week, YOUR fourth-best team in the National League, and YOUR fifth-best team in all of baseball, will visit the LOWLY, MEDIOCRE 12-13 St. Louis Cardinals. Laugh at them! Chuckle away!

Philadelphia Phillies (15-10) at St. Louis Cardinals (12-13)

About the series: The Cardinals have beaten up on bad and mediocre teams (11-5 vs. Milwaukee, Atlanta, Cincinnati, San Diego and Arizona) but haven’t fared well against good teams (1-8 vs. Pittsburgh, Washington and the Cubs). In a sense, then, this series is something of an early barometer for the Phillies, whose -16 run differential is more indicative of a below-.500 team. St. Louis is an underwhelming 5-7 at home so far this season, while the Phillies have played well on the road at 7-5.

About the opponent: The Cardinals are known for plucking some randomly obscure person out of thin air, putting that person on a baseball field and watching him become the greatest thing since sliced bread. This year that person is Jeremy Hazelbaker, which is probably a fake name and a 28-year-old career minor leaguer suddenly hitting .313 with five home runs and 13 RBI for your Cardinals.

You should also get to know Aledmys Diaz, a top Cardinal prospect who was signed out of Cuba two years ago. He’s 25 and hitting .405 with four home runs. Because the Cardinals.

Hazelbaker, Diaz, the Continuing Story of Yadier Molina and Former Phillie Brandon Moss (who came to Philly with 15 career homers and since leaving Philly has hit 101) fuel a Cardinals offense that’s best in baseball (143 runs), though their “baseball’s best” fans might not recognize this.

Pitching … now that’s where things are different. The Cards’ 4.03 ERA is in the middle of the pack, and their 197 strikeouts – also in the middle – are a cool 57 below the major league leader, YOUR fastball-curveball slingin’ Philadelphia Phillies. But the Cardinals find great pitchers, like Garcia, whose 35 strikeouts is among league leaders. Wainwright, now age 34, has struggled however, allowing 36 hits in just 27 innings of work. Those “baseball’s best” fans are already sick of the guy who gave them countless postseason memories.

Trevor Rosenthal (2.25 ERA, 16 K, 5 SV), Matt Bowman (2.70 ERA, 8 K) and Old Friend Jonathan Broxton (1.80 ERA, 11 K) lead the St. Louis bullpen, but the best pitcher of the bunch might be Korean right-hander Seung Hwan Oh (1.98 ERA, 20 K), who has an incredible nickname (“The Final Boss”). Kevin Siegrist (3.00 ERA, 13 K) is the lefty who will strike out Ryan Howard in the seventh inning of at least one of these games.

For the Phillies: That said, Howard loves playing at Busch Stadium. The St. Louis native is .341/.468/.643 with 11 home runs in 34 lifetime games at Busch. … Fellow slugger Maikel Franco is struggling lately, going 3 for his last 22 with one extra-base hit. … Meanwhile Sunday was only the second time this season Odubel Herrera didn’t reach base at all. … Monday’s pitcher Hellickson has pitched just once against the Cardinals, going seven-and-a-third innings and surrendering three runs in a win. That was in 2011, so it really doesn’t matter.

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