Starting at 6:05 CT tonight the St. Louis Cardinals will enter into another dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of the imagination. The Cardinals will enter into The Dogfight Zone.
Jul 24, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcherJake Westbrook
(35) throws to a Philadelphia Phillies batter during the first inning at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Yes, it is a good old fashioned dogfight. The Cardinals currently stand 1.5 games in front of the Pirates in the standings. These two teams have been duking it out for that coveted spot for over a month now. The Pirates are good. So are the Cardinals. Each team has it’s strengths and weaknesses, and what happens over the next four days and five games will likely determine who wins the dogfight.
The Pirates have good pitching. So do the Cardinals. The Cardinals have the offensive advantage, but the offense has struggled a little coming into this series, having been swept by the Braves this weekend. But the Pirates just lost two of three to the Marlins, one of the worst teams in baseball. The Pirates have lost their All Star closer, Jason Grilli, for the forseeable future. Some think the Cardinals have lost their mojo, but that remains to be seen. So who has the advantage?
Let’s look at the pitching matchups:
Game 1: Jake Westbrook v. Francisco Liriano. Liriano has been good. He has a better record than Westbrook. And although Westbrook has been pitching well of late, he has a terrible record against the Pirates. Advantage Pirates.
Game 2 DH: Tyler Lyons v. A.J. Burnett. On paper this looks like a clear advantage for the Bucs. But paper can be deceiving. Lyons has been outstanding in Memphis since sent being sent down. The Pirates have lost 3 of Burnett’s last 4 starts, though he has only given up 6 earned runs in those starts. Being the optimist that I am I am calling this one a draw.
Game 3 DH Lance Lynn v. TBD. Well, Lynn has to win this one since TBD is a relative unknown, and well, you get the picture. Seriously, until the Pirates reveal their secret weapon, I’m giving this one to Lynn.
Game 4. Adam Wainwright v. Jeff Locke. Wainwright is our ace. Locke has been the Pirates’ best pitcher. But Waino is the veteran, and is on a mission this season, and I am going to give Waino the edge every time.
Game 5. Joe Kelly v. Charlie Morton. This is a tough one. Kelly has only recently come back into the rotation. He’s been good though, pitching very well on Saturday in the loss against Atlanta. He also has something to prove, that he can lock down that 5th starter spot. Morton is coming off of Tommy John surgery and has had mixed results. He has surrendered 12 earned runs and 5 HRs in his last four starts. Not terrible, but not compelling either. I think the momentum is on Kelly’s side. I am giving a slight advantage to the Cardinals on this one.
So, if the Cardinals offense shows up, and the pitching matchups hold up, I say the Cardinals will win 3 of the 5 games this series. But it is definitely going to be a tough series, and anything can happen. Let’s hope the GOBS are on the Cardinals’ side and the mojo returns.