The A’s will be losing their DH for the second time this season as the team flies to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals for a short two game series. St. Louis will be the first of two cities on this road trip, with Anaheim being the second. While the A’s are nearly .500 on the road this year, a Cardinals team that is very strong at home will surely test this team.
It is generally a given that the Cardinals are going to be good year in and year out, and this year is no exception. However, like the A’s, St. Louis isn’t playing as well as they could be, and find themselves hovering just above the .500 mark overall, at 43-40 on the year. The pitching has been hurt (young stud Jordan Hicks just tore his UCL and is out for the season, as the most recent example) and the offense has been inconsistent. Their biggest offseason move, the nabbing of Paul Goldschmidt, has been a bust so far, though he is bound to start hitting like the star he is soon enough. They play in the toughest division in the National League. But through it all, the Cardinals are just a half game out of the Wild Card.
A strong pitching staff has long been the Cardinals’ calling card, but things just haven’t really come together this year. Adam Wainwright is showing his age and just doesn’t have the same bite on his stuff than he did in the past, bouncing along this season with a 4.50 ERA and a .263 opponents’ batting average. Their top performing starter, Daniel Hudson, has a WHIP of 1.43 and is showing signs that his success may not be sustainable. The big arms for the Cardinals come from the bullpen, which has been battling injuries all year long, nerfing its potential. With Hicks out for the year, John Gant is the most logical candidate to take his place as closer, as Gant possesses a strong 2.40 ERA and an even stronger 0.87 WHIP.
The Cardinals’ offense is fine but seriously lacks power. Marcell Ozuna is thumping it, with a .512 slugging percentage and twenty home runs this year, but he openly hates Oakland so that doesn’t count. Paul DeJong is having a surprisingly successful season, leading the team in extra base hits. Beyond them two, however, the offense is littered with guys who can put their bat on the ball but rarely can do much more than single or double. The team does run the bases very frequently and very successfully, while also being able to shut down the running game of their competition. Unlike the A’s, who depend very much so on the long ball, the Cardinals’ attack is closer to death by a thousand paper cuts. It will be very interesting to watch the two polar opposite offenses go head to head against each other.
Ideally, the A’s can at least get a split against the Cardinals so that they can go into Los Angeles still ahead of the Angels in the standings. St. Louis certainly won’t make it easy, as they rarely do, and Josh Phegley and Beau Taylor are certainly going to have their work cut out for them. If the A’s can’t stifle the Cardinals on the basepaths, it could be a long (short) series.
Matt Carpenter - 3B
Paul DeJong - SS
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Marcell Ozuna - LF
Jose Martinez - RF
Yadier Molina - C
Kolten Wong - 2B
Harrison Bader - CF
Chris Bassitt vs Jack Flaherty
Frankie Montas replacement vs Adam Wainwright
Game #81: Tuesday, June 25th at 5:15
Game #82: Wednesday, June 26th at 4:15
Both games will be broadcast on NBCSCA.