St. Louis Cardinals: Previewing the Diamondbacks series
By Trevor Hooth
The St. Louis Cardinals have a very telling series coming up against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
While the National League Central is still not performing to the best of it’s ability, the St. Louis Cardinals still have a chance to win the division and sneak into the playoffs. The Diamondbacks are playing very well though, so it will be a good test for the Redbirds.
Even without huge names, except Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks will test the Cardinals team in every aspect of the game. We will learn a lot about where the pitchers are and where the hitters are.
The St. Louis Cardinals lineup has a lot to prove even without facing Greinke. With the loss of Dexter Fowler to the DL, the lineup has lost one of their hottest hitters. However, with Randal Grichuk back with something to prove, that may take care of itself.
Lets take a look at what the Diamondbacks have, as far as threats go. Their bullpen has been lights out this year. In recent games, their closer, Fernando Rodney, is pitching like a younger version of himself. It will be tough to mount a late inning comeback against him. He primarily uses his change up, which is difficult to adjust to later on in the game. It’s easier said than done though.
Before Rodney even gets into the game though, there will more than likely be an encounter with Archie Bradley. At only twenty-four, Bradley is showing pure dominance this year. He was, at best, a mediocre starter last year. This year, in twenty-eight games as a reliever, he is boasting a 1.04 ERA.
If they can show the ability to hit Bradley, there will be hope for the lineup. Other lineups have flailed, so it will be a true test of where this team is.
The probable starters the St. Louis Cardinals will face are Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley, and Patrick Corbin. None of them have an overly impressive history, but Godley is 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA through nine starts this season.
The lineup needs to get to the bullpen early and knock the starter out of the game. They are not top arms in the Majors, so it is important for Cardinals to just hit the ball.
Pitching has been the Achilles heel for the St. Louis Cardinals as of late. The probable starters for the team are Carlos Martinez, Adam Wainwright, and Lance Lynn.
This Diamondback lineup has been consistently good at one thing all year: Keeping the line moving. They find gaps, hit singles, and work the count. The key to attacking them, for the pitching staff, will be to control that as much as possible.
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There are only two Arizona hitters who have hit over ten home runs. They are Goldschmidt with eighteen, and Jake Lamb with seventeen.
The three and four hitters are doing a good job finding the seats, but beyond that there are not any consistent power threats.
If the starters can find longevity, they will be able to neutralize the opposing offense. It sounds simple, but longevity means the Arizona bats don’t get momentum to start the chain of getting guys on base.
However, if the St. Louis Cardinals starters cannot get deep into games, then this series will not go well. If the Diamondbacks get to our starters, they will expose whatever problems there are.
There are two main reasons this series becomes important. The first is for playoffs. The Diamondbacks look like they are a playoff team. If the Cardinals go into Arizona and play well, it could instill confidence for a potential playoff push. Who knows? This series might be a potential playoff meatchup down the road, should St. Louis make the postseason of course.
The more immediate grain of importance is the trade deadline. If the St. Louis Cardinals show out well to close out the month of June, then they could be buying. Can they find the right pieces to make that last jump to a division lead?
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But if things go at the pace they are then this series becomes the tipping point and anyone could go. Prospects will come in and the team will look to the future to win. It is one of the biggest series that the St. Louis Cardinals will play all year.