Bringing Brotherly Love Home

It's been a week since the Cardinals saw the Phillies. This time, the results may be different.

It’s just like Gordon Gekko said in Wall Street. “Sweeps are good.”

A sweep changes the mindset around a team, doesn’t it? After the Washington series, there was encouragement on the pitching side only to be worried about the offense and the fact that the team was last in the Central. Three crisp (for the most part) wins later, the Cardinals are in second place and they feel much more like a team that has found its footing.

Of course, the era of good feelings can be over in less than nine innings.

The Last Time We Met…..

If you can’t remember the last time these two teams met, you may be quite adept at blocking out uncomfortable moments from the past. The Cards went to Philadelphia April 16-18 and scored more runs in the fourth inning of the second game than they did in the entirety of games one and three—and that wasn’t even the big inning for scoring that game.

The last time the Phillies came to St. Louis was May 6-8. The Cards won the first behind seven scoreless innings from Miles Mikolas. They were outscored 16-1 in the next two games, one a Dakota Hudson start right before things started to click, one a Jack Flaherty start which, same.

The Opponent

After putting the Cardinals in their place, the Phillies went to San Francisco and dropped the first two of the series before salvaging the final game. After a day off, they headed to Colorado and split the first two before being slammed in the finale 12-2.

This means that Philadelphia now finds itself 10-11, though that is still good for second place in the NL East and just one game behind the division-leading Mets. Yeah, it’s not just the NL Central that’s a mix of mediocrity right now. The Phillies are -15 in run differential, with 10 of those coming in their last game.

The Mound Men

Monday: Zack Wheeler (1-2, 3.80 ERA, 4.24 FIP, 4.22 xERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-2, 5.03 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 3.53 xERA)

Tuesday: Zach Elfin (1-0, 2.77 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 4.22 xERA) vs. Carlos Martinez (0-4, 6.00 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 5.92 xERA)

Wednesday: TBD vs. Johan Oviedo (0-0, 0.00 ERA, 2.67 FIP, 3.31 xERA)

Thursday: Aaron Nola (2-1, 2.84 ERA, 2.46 FIP, 3.11 xERA) vs. Kwang Hyun Kim (1-0, 4.15 ERA, 2.52 FIP, 7.01 xERA)

xERA courtesy of FanGraphs

If nothing else, this series proves one thing. There really needs to be a consistent spelling of Zack/Zach.

Elfin and Nola pitched in the earlier series and combined to allow two runs in 16 innings, highlighted by Nola’s complete game shutout in the rubber game. Martinez and Kim also started games with less stellar results—Martinez allowed six runs in five innings while Kim allowed three runs in three innings in his abbreviated first start.

The only known pitcher Philly is going to send out there that hasn’t see the Cards in 2021 is Wheeler. The Zack Attack has struggled against the Redbirds in three career starts, giving up 10 earned runs in 15.1 total innings. He hasn’t been up against St. Louis since April 24, 2018, when he gave up four runs in four innings, keyed by a two-run homer in the first by Tommy Pham. Ah, memories.

The Hot Seat

Three wins slakes the ire of many people and Matt Carpenter spending most of the series on the bench doesn’t hurt things either. While Carpenter is still probably the person that is the most likely to be the whipping boy, I’m personally elevating Alex Reyes here (with an honorable mention to Jordan Hicks). Turning safe games into “tying run at the plate” games, especially through walks, is not good for my long term help.

Assorted Crudités

The return of Tyler O’Neill does seem to have shifted Carpenter back to the bench as it should have. O’Neill crushing two homers on Sunday should continue to keep that configuration, though Justin Williams could be sacrificed if they feel the need to get Carpenter in the lineup. Carpenter is zero for his last 10 with a HBP his only contribution.

The starting rotation has seemed to find its footing and it makes for a much calmer experience when they are throwing up quality starts instead of just making fans throw up. The only pitcher that didn’t get a quality start out of the last six starts was Kim, who went 5.2 innings in his outing.

If Giovanny Gallegos hadn’t picked the wrong night to contract Classic Cardinal Closer Syndrome, the Cards would have won five of their last six. As it is, this is the second longest winning streak of the season for this team and they can tie the longest with a win Monday night.

The Dylan-Carlson-in-the-two-hole lineup was one that almost every fan expected to see after the trade for Nolan Arenado. Mike Shildt finally agreed and the Cardinals haven’t lost since. Carlson had seven hits in the series, including back-to-back three hit days to close it out. If this keeps up and Paul Goldschmidt and Arenado get back on track, this team could catch fire in a hurry.

Since the beginning of the last series between these two, Bryce Harper is 14-for-49 with three doubles and four homers. I’m sure he’s about to cool down. Positive. Can’t see anyway he won’t be ice cold the next four games.