St. Louis Cardinals: Two Games That ABSOLUTELY Matter
The 2016 season for the St. Louis Cardinals all comes down to the final day of the season and hinges completely on more than just the Cardinals game against the Pirates.
The St. Louis Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon for the final time in the 2016 season. Moreover, today’s game holds the fate of the entire season as a win could well earn an entry into postseason baseball. But wait, there’s more…
The San Francisco Giants face the Los Angeles Dodgers this afternoon for the final time in the 2016 season. Moreover, today’s game holds the fate of the entire season as a win could well earn an entry into postseason baseball. See the echo?
We all know what this means. These two final games matter because the St. Louis Cardinals trail the Giants for the second wild card spot by only one game. They, therefore, matter immensely.
Should the Cardinals win and the Giants lose a single-game play-in is forced. Should the Cardinals lose and the Giants lose, the Cardinals are eliminated. Should both teams win, the Cardinals are eliminated. In short, the St. Louis Cardinals MUST win today and then hope that the Giants lose or the season is finished.
Let’s look at the match-ups. The St. Louis Cardinals are sending long-time ace, Adam Wainwright to the mound today. Waino owns a 13-9 record on the season with a 4.67 ERA. Wainwright owns a 4.54 ERA in his last seven games going 4-2 in those games. Adam, in these seven games, has pitched a minimum of five innings and a maximum of six so look for a short leash today.
The Pirates are sending long-time veteran (and former Giant, ironic?) Ryan Vogelsong to the mound. Vogelsong owns a season record of 3-7 with a 5.00 ERA. Where Waino has held steady in his past seven games, Volgelsong has gone 1-4 over this period with a 7.88 ERA. This should help the Cardinals.
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David Freese sports a .600 BA against Wainwright which is the best batting average on the team against Wainwright. Likewise, Josh Bell (.500 BA), Matt Joyce (.375 BA), Francisco Cervelli (.375 BA), and John Jaso (.300 BA) hit well against Adam. On the flip side, Andrew McCutchen (.231 BA) and Jung Ho Kang (.167 BA) have not hit so well. It should be noted that several Pirate players own BAs of .000 facing Waino in small sample sizes.
The Cardinals fare well against Vogelsong and have three players sporting batting averages greater than .400: Matt Carpenter (.412), Randal Grichuk (.500), and Stephen Piscotty (.667). Piscotty needs a rebound day to lift his spirits into the postseason or off-season and today should be just that.
Brandon Moss is the weakest Cardinal facing Vogelsong, by the way, with a .167 average so perhaps he should sit…
Turning our attention to the Giants, Matt Moore takes the mound for San Francicso. Moore owns a season record of 12-12 with a 4.21 ERA. Kenta Maeda takes the mound for the Dodgers. Maeda owns a season record of 16-10 with a 3.28 ERA. In his last appearance, Moore surrendered six runs in only one-plus inning. Cardinal fans are wishing for this again today.
Maeda looks to continue his dominate performance shown in September and the Cardinals cheer for this as well. Maeda posted a 2.73 ERA in September in which he owned five starts striking out twenty-eight batters. The Dodgers are looking to avoid the sweep to close the regular season and the Giants are looking to complete the sweep to avoid the playoff for the second wild card spot.
Speaking of sweeps, the St. Louis Cardinals are looking to complete the sweep of the Pirates to even hope for the playoff tie-breaker game. The Cardinals last completed a sweep on August 16 and 17 in a two-game set against the Astros. The last three-game sweep was completed on July 1-3 against the Brewers. The Cardinals also swept the Padres in a four-game sweep on July 18-21.
The Giants last completed a sweep on September 9-11 against the Diamondbacks. The Giants have not swept the Dodgers in 2016 which bodes well for the Cardinals. The St. Louis Cardinals did sweep the Pirates in June when the Pirates were still considered contenders. Since that time, however, the Cardinals have come close to sweeping Pittsburgh but have failed earlier in September.
Bottom line is this: the Cardinals must win. Wainwright must dominate. The offense must come alive early. The Giants game starts first just after 2pm with the Cardinals game slated to begin at 2:15pm. We will ALL be glued to baseball today; sorry, NFL. Go CARDS!