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Know Your Enemy: St. Louis Cardinals

Sponsored by Fred Bird the Nightmare Bird and the Cardinal Way

Milwaukee Brewers v St Louis Cardinals Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to get past this weekend’s adventure of bungled ninth inning choices, bad luck, and bungled ninth inning choices 2.0.

Let’s move on to harass the self-proclaimed best fans in baseball!

2020 Cardinals: 30-28 (second in NL Central)

The most dominant story about the 2020 Cardinals was that everyone got COVID and had to play something crazy like 45 games in 30 days. They still managed to make the playoffs because nothing about the 2020 season was normal, and then lost the NL Wild Card to the Padres, who were on fire. There was also supposed to be a rescheduled Field of Dreams game vs. the White Sox to make up for the cancelled trip to London, but that got cancelled due to “logistics problems” and uh, you know the pandemic.

The 2020 Cardinals had other problems outside of their team being a petri dish of COVID-19. They ranked 22nd in batting average, 27th in slugging, and dead last in home runs. The Cardinals didn’t have the bats they needed to compete against Slam Diego, let alone anyone else apparently. Given that there were no big offseason moves it’s no surprise that a sad 2019 offense carried over. Paul Goldschmidt was the highlight of the team with a .304/.417/.466 slash (and only six home runs but it’s not like anyone else was hitting them). He’s with the Cardinals through 2024 so he has plenty of time to carry the team.

Friend of Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty didn’t have the same 2019 Low ERA Lightning and ended with a 4.91 ERA, but he only allowed one run over six innings in his postseason start, which isn’t something to sneeze at. Overall, Cards pitching posted a 1.23 WHIP with a 3.90 ERA. Prior to landing on the IL due to a kidney issue, Kwang Hyun Kim posted a 1.62 ERA in eight games. The relievers helped bolster games so that the Cards were able to stay in second place despite a dismal offensive showing.

2021 Manager: Mike Schildt

Schildt took over the managerial duties of the Cardinals after the unceremonious July dismissal of Mike Matheny, Baseball Genius. Schildt was a product of the Cardinals coaching system, moving through as first a scout, and then minor league manager (side note: the Cardinals org is about as creative as the Yankees when it comes to naming). In his four years with the team, he’s posted a 184-142 record and has finished in the top-two spots in the NL Central the last two years. He hasn’t had much success in the postseason, losing first to the Nationals (2019), and then Padres (2020).

Schildt made some headlines in March of 2020 when he married his longtime fiancée during spring training in Jupiter, Florida. The wedding was squeezed in during one of his only days off during spring training because it’s hard for people in baseball to plan a wedding during a regular year, let alone COVID season.

Tony La Russa was also a mentor to Schildt, in the same was he was for Matheny, so I can’t wait to see how this goes.

2021 so far...

Well they’re batting better than they were last year, sitting at fourth in NL batting average, slashing as a team .234/.307/.395. Nolan Arenado is leading with a .291/.344/.547, which I imagine surprises exactly no one. He’s leading the team with 10 home runs and 32 RBIs. Tied for second in terms of BA is Dylan Carlson, with a .291. He’s also the team leader in OBP at .382. Pitching-wise, Jack Flaherty is leading with wins (8), ERA (2.53), and strikeouts (55), so it looks like he may have found his rhythm again. Carlson is currently listed as “day-to-day” as he’s dealing with a back issue, so we may or may not see him trolling around in left field.

Adam Wainwright is still pitching for the Cardinals, but we won’t be seeing him or his 3.95 ERA this series. There is a member of the bullpen with the last name Ponce de Leon, which is just fun.

The Cards are 4-6 through their last 10 (hey, us too!) and 11-10 on the road. They’re 21-17 against RHP which really bodes well for the fact the White Sox are starting two righties this series (for those who care about lefty/righty). They’re sitting two games up at the top of the NL Central so this is shaping up to be a first place central face-off.

Series Pitching: Buddies on Monday, enemies on Tuesday

Today is going to see Kwang Hyun Kim against Lance Lynn. Kim only made it 3 13 innings during his last outing, as some control issues led to an early exit. He walked three batters (which is apparently a career high and he hadn’t walked anyone since September). His 2021 record is 1-1 and ERA is 2.73 with 27 strikeouts. Kim relies on a 4-Seam Fastball, Slider, Changeup, and Curveball. If the White Sox can get on top of that fastball we should see a lot of dingers tonight. Lynn is facing off against his former team (he spent six seasons there) and has only faced them once, in 2018, since he left.

Tuesday is Lucas Giolito vs. Jack Flaherty. It’s longtime friend and high school teammate vs. longtime friend and high school teammate and former high school coach. Flaherty has a solid 8-0 record and 2.53 ERA with 55 strikeouts, one of the best stretches of his career. If he wins, he’ll get something no Cardinal ever has: 9-0 record in his first 10 starts. Giolito is posting a 3-4 record and 4.35 ERA with 61 strikeouts, but looked much better during his last outing than he has in a few games. He’s lost both times he’s faced the Cardinals in the past, so let’s hope his luck changes.

Wednesday is going to be John Gant vs. Carlos Rodon. Rodon threw a six-inning shutout during his start against the Yankees, with a historic 13 strikeouts. His ERA is sitting high at 1.27 with a 5-1 record and 62 strikeouts so far. This is the first time he’s seeing the Cards since 2018 and for the third time ever (makes sense, they’re not exactly Kansas City who we’re legally required to play 40 times a season). Gant has a 3-3 record and 2.04 ERA with 32 strikeouts. He was going for the best outing of his career during his last start but traffic on the bases managed to derail that. Gant relies on five pitches: Sinker, Changeup, Slider, Curveball, and 4-Seam Fastball.

Why do we hate them?

I know I hate their mascot more than anything in the world because that thing is horrifying. Also this:

We do share a mutual hatred for the Cubs so that’s the one thing that unites us. But in any case, enjoy: