St. Louis Cardinals: Diamondbacks vs Cardinals series preview

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 28: Infielder Chris Owings
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 28: Infielder Chris Owings /

The St. Louis Cardinals and Arizona Diamondbacks open a three game series on April 5th.  This series will be an early look at two of the National League’s wild card contenders.

The St. Louis Cardinals home opener for 2018 will be against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 5th.  Going into the 2018 season, the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Brewers are considered to be the likely wild card contenders in the National League. As a result, this three game series between the Cardinals and Diamondbacks will be an early preview of a possible Wild Card playoff game.

The Cardinals enter the weekend series with a 3-3 record after winning 2 of 3 from the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Diamondbacks enter St. Louis 6-1, after sweeping a three game series from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Preview of the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks

The big news for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the offseason was not re-signing outfielder J.D. Martinez, after picking him up in a July 2017 trade with the Detroit Tigers.  To try to compensate the loss of Martinez, the Diamondbacks traded for outfielder Steven Souza in a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays.  Nevertheless, Souza is no J.D. Martinez and to make matters worse, he has started the season on the 10-day DL.

Gold Glove first baseman Paul Goldsmith is still one of the best offensive players in the game and a potential MVP.  The infield is rounded out by shortstop Nick Ahmed, second baseman Ketel Marte, third baseman Jake Lamb, and catcher Alex Avila.  The infield bench includes the former Cardinal Daniel Descalso.

Gold glover A.J. Pollock returns to anchor centerfield and is joined in the outfield by David Peralta and Chris OwingsJarrod Dyson rounds out the outfield until Souza can return.

The Diamondback starting rotation may be the strength of the team going into 2018, if staff ace and former Cy Young award winner, 34-year old Zack Grienke can stay healthy.  The other starters are Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker, and Zack Godley.  Ray is considered to have ace potential, and Corbin, Walker, along with  Godley fill out a rotation that exceeded expectations in 2017.  Former Cardinal Shelby Miller enters the season on the 60 DL, after having Tommy John surgery in 2017.

The Diamondbacks bullpen showed drastic improvement in 2017 over its 2016 performance.  Diamondback relievers compiled a 3.78 ERA in 2017, that was fifth in the majors.   Comparatively, they ranked 27th with a 4.94 ERA in 2016.

With Fernando Rodney now gone, the closer duties have fallen to Brad Boxberger, with Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano as possible options if Boxberger falters.  The left-handed options in their bullpen are Andrew Chafin, Jorge De La Rosa, and T.J. MacFarland, while former Cardinal Fernando Salas rounds out the right-handed options.

Series Pitching Matchups

Thursday April 5.


Robbie Ray (1-0, 10.80 ERA)


Adam Wainwright (0-0, —ERA)

Saturday April 7


Zack Greinke (0-0, 1.50 ERA)


Michael Wacha (0-1, 7.71 ERA)

Sunday April 8


Taijuan Walker (0-0, 5.40 ERA)


Luke Weaver (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

Series Analysis

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The St. Louis Cardinals enter the weekend series with some question marks about their rotation and the bullpen.  Although Carlos Martinez was impressive in his outing on Wednesday, his first outing against the Mets was disappointing.  The rest of rotation has also been up and down.  Adam Wainwright comes off the DL to pitch on Thursday, while Jack Flaherty was sent back to AAA Memphis, in spite of his impressive outing on Tuesday.

The Cardinal bullpen has been at best erratic, and roles seem to be undefined at this point.  Greg Holland, who signed last week, won’t arrive until next week to take over the closer’s role.  Until then, St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny will have to make do with a group of relievers who have little closing experience.

The St. Louis Cardinals offensive lineup came alive during the Brewers series, after a slow start against the Mets.  Dexter Fowler and Matt Carpenter have come out of their early struggles, while Tommy Pham, Marcell Ozuna, Jose Martinez, and Paul DeJong continue to produce.

Meanwhile the Arizona Diamondback starting rotation and bullpen have both been solid.  Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley have both been outstanding thus far.  The bullpen has been steady and roles have been defined.

Led by Nick Ahmed, the Diamondback offensive has been steady, even though Paul Goldschmidt has struggled.  Nevertheless, the offense will likely be the weakness of the 2018 Diamondbacks with Paul Goldschmidt as the only proven producer on the team.

Next: Ideal roster

In conclusion, the key for the Cardinals this weekend will be Wainwright, Wacha, Weaver, and finding a way to close out games.