St. Louis Cardinals Face Tough Task Against Dodgers


2B Dee Gordon
RF Yasiel Puig
1B Adrian Gonzalez
LF Matt Kemp
CF Andre Ethier
3B Juan Uribe
C A.J. Ellis
SS Miguel Rojas
P Paul Maholm

That’s the lineup Don Mattingly threw out for last Saturday night’s game against the San Diego Padres. Who’s missing, and why is Paul Maholm starting a game? Shortstop Hanley Ramirez for one, and Paul Maholm was making a spot start in the absence of Josh Beckett. Beckett will miss the series in St. Louis starting Friday night. He has an impingement in his left hip.

Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig–both 2014 All-Stars, Puig a starting outfielder–have led the Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense this season. Gordon leads the league in steals, with 43. Puig’s patience drives his .394 on-base percentage, and he plays an otherwordly right field, taking it as a personal affront when base runners attempt to take an extra base on his throwing arm. However, Hanley Ramirez is one of the top three contributors (2.6 BWARP), and the club needs him to be available and healthy down the stretch.

Ramirez, hitting .275/.369/.467, is down from the lofty offensive heights he posted last season in 120 games. Baseball Info Solutions has him at -12 defensive runs saved, which is near the league bottom. Ramirez suffers from a variety of nagging injuries.

The Dodgers are in a fix at shortstop, as they are having to play Miguel Rojas a lot. Rojas is a long-time minor leaguer–good in the field, not so much as a hitter, unless you’re Max Scherzer!

Fans of the St. Louis Cardinals may overdose on Clayton Kershaw this week, as the minor kerfuffle over who should start the All-Star Game on the National League side already shows. He’s likely to get the start on Friday. Kershaw only leads the major leagues in almost every pitching category that matters–ERA–1.78, ERA+ (200), strikeout-to-walk ratio–10-1, WHIP–.830, and even wins percentage–.846.

Then there’s the merely excellent Zack Greinke, he of the five-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio and 2.73 ERA. If all goes to plan in the All-Star Game for both of these representatives, Greinke will pitch on Saturday night. Greinke allowed only a solo homer by Matt Carpenter in seven innings of work on June 28th at Dodger Stadium.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the most wins (54) in the National League. They have won about five games more than they should have, (according to run differential), which also leads the league. They appear to be a lucky crew, and the St. Louis Cardinals will face a stiff first test after the All-Star Break.