Cardinals Series Preview: July 24th-26th (vs. PIT)

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After a four-month wait, the St. Louis Cardinals will finally open their 2020 season this weekend. The Pittsburgh Pirates are a familiar opponent, but this Cardinals series will be like none before it. An empty Busch Stadium and numerous health protocols will give this shortened season a very different feel, but loyal Redbird fans are undoubtedly thrilled to finally get going.

Game 1: ​Jack Flaherty vs. Joe Musgrove

7:15 CT, FS-MW (STL), ATT SportsNet (PIT)

In the season opener, Cardinals ace Jack Flaherty will face off against fellow Californian Joe Musgrove. After a spectacular second half of 2019 (0.91 ERA, 5.39 K/BB), Flaherty will have the chance to cement himself as one of the league’s premier starters. In two starts against Pittsburgh last season, he allowed one run over 15 innings. Flaherty struck out 18 batters over that span and posted a WHIP of just 0.80 per Baseball-Reference.

Musgrove has struggled against the Cardinals in the past, with an ERA over 7.00 in seven career starts. His struggles with command in recent years are evident, with a 1.49 WHIP and six homers from Caridnals bats according to Fangraphs. The right-handed pitcher features six different pitches, but needs to improve fastball command to miss more bats.

Game 2: ​Adam Wainwright vs. Trevor Williams

1:15 CT, FS-MW (STL), ATT SportsNet (PIT)

Saturday’s matchup sees veteran Adam Wainwright against young right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams. Wainwright re-signed his contract for one more year this past winter, and he will look to improve on a solid-but-not-great 2019. Wainwright has been pretty average against the Pirates in years past, with an ERA of 4.24 in 36 starts. Mike Shildt made sure to give Waino the start at home, where he has excelled. According to Baseball-Reference, when pitching at Busch Stadium in 2019, his ERA dropped from 6.22 to 2.56.

Williams, on the other hand, has struggled in St. Louis. The Arizona State University product has posted an ERA of 5.28 and a WHIP just under 2.000 in five starts at Busch  Stadium. Williams was originally slotted as the fourth or fifth-option in the rotation, but he will take on a more prominent role after season-ending injuries to Jameson Taillon and Chris Archer. To provide run support for Wainwright, the Cards need to jump on Williams’ fastball, his most relied-on pitch at 66.7% per PitcherList.

Game 3: ​Dakota Hudson vs. Mitch Keller

1:15 CT, FS-MW (STL), ATT SportsNet (PIT)

In the Pirates vs. Cardinals series finale, two young right-handed pitchers will square off in Dakota Hudson and Mitch Keller. Hudson emerged as a very productive starter in his first year in the rotation in 2019, compiling an ERA under 3.50. Like Wainwright, Hudson was very solid at home, with a .224 BAA and a 2.75 ERA per Baseball-Reference. However, he walked 43 batters to 66 strikeouts, and needs to refine that command to stay consistent.

Keller debuted in the majors in 2019, and struggled to get outs. An ERA of 7.13 and a WHIP near 2.000 were evidence of his inexperience, as his pure stuff didn’t quite translate. Similar to Williams, Keller features his fastball most often and with the most success, so the Cardinal lineup needs to attack early in counts.

Other Notes

  • Earlier in the week, Mike Shildt named Carlos Martinez as a starter. Kwang-Hyun Kim will begin the season as closer, a role he excelled in during his time in South Korea.
  • Brett Cecil was released Wednesday, following many injuries and disappointing seasons since signing in 2016.
  • Kolten Wong missed Wednesday’s scrimmage with neck tightness, but appears to be ready for Opening Day.
  • Brad Miller was placed on the 10-Day IL on Wednesday with bursitis in his right ankle.

Sources: Baseball-Reference, Fangraphs, PitcherList,

Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images