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Cardinals Series Preview: St. Louis returns for the first time in 8 years

The Cardinals have not visited the Trop since 2014.

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs - Game One Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays dropped a series against the Chicago White Sox and will now host the St. Louis Cardinals before heading on a nine game road trip.

The New York Yankees continue to win nearly every game they play and hold a 7.5 game lead over the Toronto Blue Jays, 8.0 game lead over the Rays, 12.0 game lead over the Boston Red Sox, and a 17.0 game lead over the Baltimore Orioles. Currently the three wild cards would be the Blue Jays, Rays, and Red Sox.

Nevertheless, as of today, all four of these AL East teams would qualify for the playoffs.

Schedule

Tuesday 7:10 PM: Dakota Hudson vs Jeffrey Springs
Wednesday 7:10 PM: TBA vs Corey Kluber
Thursday 1:10 PM: Miles Mikolas vs Shane McClanahan

Dakota Hudson has had a fascinating season. His 2.96 ERA has been great, but his 4.57 FIP and 4.81 xFIP suggest he’s been quite fortunate. His strikeout rate is down to 13.0% from a career 17.3% rate. At the same time his walk rate has remained elevated at a 11.2% walk rate. Hudson works off a 92.3 mph sinker that he throws nearly half the time. His go to secondary pitch is a 89.2 mph slider that he throws to batters from both sides of the plate equally. He will add a 92.2 mph four-seam fastball, 81.0 mph curveball, and 86.4 mph changeup. He will rarely throw the four-seam fastball or changeup to right handed batters. Most of the dmage has come off the changeup despite a 6% usage rate.

The Cardinals don’t have a scheduled starter for game two. It is the spot in the rotation vacated by former Rays prospect Matthew Liberatore who was the primary prospect traded for Randy Arozarena. Liberatore was optioned after his last start. It is possible that Steven Matz could return from the Injured List.

Miles Mikolas’s career path has not been traditional. He was drafted by the San Diego Padres in 2009 before heading to the Nippon Professional Baseball League in 2015 to play for the Yomuri Giants. After three successful season in Japan he came back to the United States as a free agent. In his first season back he had a fantastic season putting up a 2.83 ERA/3.28 FIP/3.67 xFIP over 200.2 innings. His 2019 was a big step back and missed the 2020 season after undergoing a procedure to repair his right flexor tendon. Last season he struggled in his return, but his 2022 season has looked closer to his 2018 season. In 65.2 innings he’s put up a 3.02 ERA/3.60 FIP/3.91 xFIP. His strikeout rate is up to 18.9% while maintain a strong 5.6% walk rate.

Mikolas works off four primary pitches that he throws in the 20-30% range. He throws a 92.6 mph sinker, 87.5 mph slider, 75.6 mph curveball, and 93.1 mph four-seam fastball. He will occasionally add a 83.6 mph changeup to left handed batters.

St. Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

St. Louis has been one of the most dynamic offenses in the league.

As a team they are putting upa .254/.323/.399 line and putting up a 108 wRC+. Their 269 runs ranks fourth most in baseball. They lead the league with 44 stolen bases and their +8.8 baseruns ranks second.

Tyler O’Neill (59 wRC+) is expected to return from the Injured List before Tuesday’s game following a shoulder impingement, and just in time, as former Rays outfielder Corey Dickerson (52 wRC+) was placed on the Injured List with a calf injury.

The offense has been lead by their corner infielders. 1B Paul Goldschmidt (189 wRC+) has hit 12 homers and 3B Nolan Arenado (137 wRC+) has 10.

RF Brendan Donovan (157 wRC+), SS Tommy Edman (126 wRC+), LF/DH Juan Yepez (121 wRC+), and CF Harrison Bader (102 wRC+) have also done their part to keep the Cardinals on track. OF Dylan Carlson (87 wRC+) hasn’t settled into the hitter many thought he’d be and is on the IL, but 2B Nolan Gorman (168 wRC+) has gotten off to a hot start over his first couple of weeks in the league.

The veteran leaders 1B/DH Albert Pujols (103 wRC+) and C Yadier Molina (51 wRC+) aren’t everyday players any more in their final season in the majors.