The St. Louis Cardinals sit just 2 games out of first place, and begin a 3 game series against the Miami Marlins tonight. Jake Westbrook looks to continue his recent success, and will face Ricky Nolasco, who is just 6-6 with a hitter friendly 5.16 ERA. If the Cardinals can stay patient, I firmly believe that their recent success against the Kansas City Royals can be much more than a fluke. If Cardinal pitching can hold Giancarlo Stanton, José Reyes, and Hanley Ramírez in check, it’s plausible to think that the Cardinals can capture another 3 game sweep, and possibly even sit atop the NL Central again.
Some readers may think I’m crazy, but recent success against the Marlins would suggest that both of those things happening is not a far reach. The Redbirds won the inaugural game at Marlins Park on April 4, and have reeled of 6 in a row against the Fish. There’s no telling what Jake Westbrook will take the mound tonight – the one who struggled to start the season, or the one who pitched a spectacular complete game in his last outing. Looking at his stats against the Florida Marlins, history dictates that it’ll be the later. The Athens, Georgia native is 1-0 against them with a crisp 2.96 ERA in 4 starts.
The opposition countering with Nolasco sure doesn’t hurt Westbrook’s chances either. Since May 6, his ERA has jumped from 2.72 to the 5.16 that it stands at currently. Furthermore, the Marlins are just 5-16 so far this month after a torrid May. Looks like both teams have a bit in common, right? It seems that both are a little schizophrenic, trying to find a balance between offense and defense, and not really quite figuring it out up to this point. Hopefully this is a series that the St. Louis Cardinals can look back in the rear-view and say that they built on the great series that they had against the Kansas City Royals.
Averages on the up-tick: Since June 1, Matt Holliday‘s batting average has risen from .277 to just one point shy of .300. Another key cog is David Freese, who has seen his average go from .262 to .279 this month. While Jon Jay came up and Matt Adams got sent down, and you can’t really compare the two players in stature or playing style, there is a solid upgrade there as well. I’m not saying that Matt Adams won’t be a valuable player in the long term, but he could also be a key bargaining chip in a possible trade as the Cardinals look to improve their bullpen. A consistent lefty out of the pen would make any fan feel much better about the rest of the season.
Lohse said it: As I wrote in my last article, Lohse basically said that you better watch out if we get our frustrated offense moving in the right direction. I agree with him. There’s a saying, however cliche it may be that goes a little like this: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters. While the St. Louis Cardinals look like a mish mosh of players considering all their injuries this year, the team is just two games out of first.
I won’t jinx the Redbirds by saying that a sweep is imminent, and that they’re going to be sitting comfortably in the driver’s seat by the time that they face the Cincinnati Reds again soon, but it’s very possible. Comment below and let me know what you think about the recent 3 game winning streak, as well as the prospects of that continuing through the Marlins series and beyond.