4-13-23 – By Christian Wolf – @CWolfPGH on Twitter
The Pirates travel to St. Louis to open a four-game series against the Cardinals
When & Who
Game 1 – (4/13, 7:45PM EST)
For the Pirates – Vince Velasquez (0-2, 9.82 ERA)
For the Cardinals – Jordan Montgomery (2-0, 2.25 ERA)
Game 2 – (4/14, 8:15PM EST)
For the Pirates – Johan Oviedo (1-0, 3.18 ERA)
For the Cardinals – Jake Woodford (0-2, 9.00 ERA)
Game 3 – (4/15, 2:15PM EST)
For the Pirates – Roansy Contreras (1-1, 8.00 ERA)
For the Cardinals – Steven Matz (0-2, 8.18 ERA)
Game 4 – (4/16, 2:15PM EST)
For the Pirates – Mitch Keller (1-0, 3.57 ERA)
For the Cardinals – Miles Mikolas (0-1, 10.05 ERA)
The Cardinals are entering this series having lost five of their past eight games, with their starting rotation being the root of their early season woes. The Cardinals rotation ranks 25th in all of baseball with its 5.98ERA, lasting just 61.2 innings so far this season. But the Cardinals are hitting .324 as a team at home this season, posing a challenge for Pirates pitchers.
The Pirates, on the other hand, are coming into this game winners of five of their past eight games. Pirates starters haven’t been much better than St. Louis, putting up a 5.82ERA in 60.1 innings, good for 24th in MLB. The Bucs bullpen has been generally solid early on, posting a 3.74ERA in 45.2 innings, good for fifth best in the National League, and will be needed against this strong Cardinals lineup.
For the Cardinals – Jordan Walker: The Cardinals rookie has opened the season with a 12-game hitting streak, batting .319 with an .849 OPS to go along with two home runs.
For the Pirates – Rodolfo Castro: The Pirates infielder has reached base safely in his past four starts, including two multi-hit games in that stretch, raising his average to .286 and his OPS to .756.
For the Cardinals – Wilson Contreras: The Cardinals’ catcher is hitless in his past four games and has just one hit in his last eighteen at bats, and will look to reverse that trend against the Pirates after opening the season with a .179 average and .443 OPS.
For the Pirates – Carlos Santana: The Bucs first basemen has had an on-and-off start to his season, but has just two hits in his past sixteen at-bats. A turnaround series from Santana could prove to give the Bucs the boost they need to win games in St. Louis.
Series Overview & Prediction
The Pirates will have their three best pitchers on the mound this series, and will have the added benefit of facing a scuffling team still trying to piece it all together. That being said, winning in St. Louis is never an easy task. The Cardinals are a lot better than their early record indicates, and opening their season against the Blue Jays, Braves, and division leading Brewers didn’t make it any easier. They are bound to get hot at some point, and a four-game series at Busch Stadium might be the right time.
Then again, this season has had the start the Pirates have been looking for. The growth and improvement this team has shown from both the 2021 and last year’s 2022 team is apparent. Players like Andrew McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds have had outstanding starts to the season, and when a team is playing good, smart baseball, it’s hard to slow them down.
Four-game series are tough. I’m going to take the easy route and predict a split, with each side taking two games. I like the Pirates chances with Keller, Contreras, and Oviedo taking the mound, but the Cardinals are a tough customer with tons of talent and will likely make a series split itself, much less a series victory, difficult for the Pirates.
Editor’s Note: Please join us here at ITBB in welcoming Christian Wolf to our team. At first, you can expect him to focus on these Series Previews, but over time, that could certainly grow. Do give him a follow if you don’t already. – Gary