The Brewers will be the Cardinals’ biggest test to date.
The St. Louis Cardinals opened their season on the road against the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins. Both teams have talent and are by no means a pushover. But Thursday begins their first true test of the regular season — a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.
Corbin Burnes, specifically, will prove the greatest test in this series. The right-hander was dominant last season and finished sixth in the National League Cy Young Award voting. That translated to his first start of the 2021 season, where he held a no-hitter for 6.1 innings against the Minnesota Twins, and showcased a renewed pitching repertoire that includes an improved curveball and changeup.
Burnes, most likely, will keep the Brewers in the game when he hands it off to the bullpen. That plays into their strength, considering their one-two punch in the late innings of Devin Williams and Josh Hader is arguably the best in baseball. While Hader has been dominant, Williams has scuffled after a dominant 2020 campaign. He had a limited spring training and has allowed runs in each of his appearances this season.
But getting to that bullpen has proven challenging for the Brewers. Their offense has been one of the worst in baseball, and a large reason for that is the struggles of Keston Hiura. He has not recorded a hit this season in almost 20 plate appearances and is striking out an alarming rate. Christian Yelich has bounced back after a slow start and Lorenzo Cain is coming off a two-homer game, so perhaps the Brewers offense is showing some signs of getting out of an early scuffle.
The offense is clearly the Brewers’ biggest weakness, and a way that the Cardinals not only win this series, but can take control of the National League Central. But the Brewers are clearly their best competition to date and a matchup of Burnes against Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt should be incredibly enticing.