7:45 PM EST – Line: Cardinals -127, Over/Under: 9.5
Division Rivals locked in a heated race meet yet again, as the St. Louis Cardinals play host to the Milwaukee Brewers in the first leg of a crucial three-game series from Busch Stadium, in St. Louis, Missouri. If the Brewers (64-60, 3rd in NL Central) are to return to the Playoffs after coming up just short of advancing to what would have been there first World Series since 1982, then they’re going to have to make a stand against a foe that has certainly had their number of late; after taking five out of the first six meetings with St. Louis, they’ve since dropped four in a row. Coming into this series, Milwaukee remains two games behind their opponent tonight in the NL Central, and coincidentally two games out of a Wild Card in the National League. Needless to say, these particular races will likely run all the way down to the wire, with Craig Counsell’s charges in thick of it. After stumbling at the beginning of August with a four-game losing streak, the club has since corrected their course, winning seven of their last eleven outings. A year after earning NL MVP honors, Christian Yelich (.333 BA, 109 G, 139 H, 86 R, 24 2B, 41 HR, 89 RBI, 24 SB, 61 BB, 100 K) has been even better, leading the National League in a slew of categories, including Home Runs (41), Batting Average (.333), On-Base Percentage (.422), Slugging Percentage (.699), and OPS (1.121), all of which represent career-highs for the All-Star Outfielder. Taking the mound tonight for the Brewers should be Zach Davies (8-5, 3.74 ERA, 23 GS, 122.2 IP, 130 H, 60 R, 17 HR, 41 BB, 78 K, 1.394 WHIP), who is scheduled to return from a brief stint on the 10-Day Disabled List due to persistent back spams. The young Righthander was initially intended to start last Wednesday’s meeting with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but was ultimately relieved of his duties by Counsell, who has now seen his third Starting Pitcher succumb to injury, joining the likes of Brandon Woodruff (11-3, 3.75 ERA, 20 GS, 117.2 IP, 109 H, 49 R, 12 HR, 29 BB, 136 K, 1.173 WHIP) and Jhoulys Chacin (3-10, 5.79 ERA, 19 GS, 88.2 IP, 99 H, 61 R, 19 HR, 39 BB, 80 K, 1.556 WHIP), with the former dealing with a strained oblique muscle and the latter hampered by lateral muscle strain. Not that there is ever an ideal time to be beset by injuries, but this certainly ISN’T it as Milwaukee is in a dogfight for both the Division and a Wild Card. It remains to be seen if the prescribed rest will benefit Davies, who in his previous three starts has been roughed up quite a bit, posting a miserable 11.77 ERA with opposing batters hitting .339 against him, tagging Six Home Runs with the 26-Year Old managing just Ten Strikeouts in comparison to Six Walks. With that said, don’t expect him to remain out on the mound very long, for this guy’s been anything but a workhorse in 2019, lasting past Five Innings on just two occasions in his last eleven starts. Over the course of his career, Davies has faced the Cardinals nine times, going 2-2 with a 4.64 ERA and 1.357 WHIP, though in his only previous matchup against them this season he performed very well, relegating them to a pair of Runs on Seven Hits, with Four Strikeouts and a Walk over 4.2 Innings in what ended in a 3-4 Loss way back on April 23rd.
Meanwhile, after an absolutely abysmal May and June, the Cardinals (65-57, 1st in NL Central) have caught fire and as a result have rocketed up the Standings, moving into First Place in the tightly-contested NL Central. It’s been an odd season for St. Louis, who after getting out to a positive 19-10 start by the end of April, went a dismal 22-31 over the following two months, Granted, injuries had a heavy say in their performance over that time, with a simple return to health providing the boost needed, as Mike Shildt’s charges promptly went 16-9 in July, putting them back within striking position within the Division and in the race for a Wild Card. However, after starting the month of August a mediocre 1-6, the Redbirds have since righted the proverbial ship, winning seven of their last nine games coming into this crucial series with the Brewers. The Offense has driven the team since the All-Star Break, with the Cards flexing their muscles with Forty-Four Home Runs over the last Thirty-Three Games, which parlays to an average of 1.33, an improvement over the 1.25 they logged beforehand. Paul Goldschmidt (.258 BA, 117 G, 117 H, 72 R, 14 2B, 27 HR, 66 RBI, 50 BB, 129 K) has personified their run from plate, with the former All-Star batting a healthier .268 and slugging a much-improved .577 since the Midsummer Classic, tagging Eleven Home Runs in comparison to the Sixteen he mustered during the First Half. Taking the mound tonight for the Cardinals will be Dakota Hudson (11-6, 3.82 ERA, 24 GS, 127.1 IP, 139 H, 69 R, 19 HR, 59 BB, 97 K, 1.555 WHIP), the young prospect who in just his second season in the Majors has earned a place in the Starting Rotation. Benefitting greatly from the club’s second-half surge, the 24-Year Old has gone 4-2 in seven starts since the All-Star Break, despite seeing his ERA (4.63) and WHIP (1.629) bloat considerably in that span. Control has been an issue for the Righthander, whose Strikeout/Walk Ratio (1.64) has been hardly impressive, due to permitting 4.2 Walks per Nine Innings. When we last saw him, Hudson performed well against instate rival Kansas City, relegating the Royals to Zero Runs on Five Hits, with Four Strikeouts and Two Walks over the course of Six Innings. He’s faced off against Milwaukee twice already this season, the first of which was a brutal showing in a 2-4 loss way back on March 30th, in which he was tagged Three Home Runs over just 4.1 Innings of labor, and the other a 7-10 defeat on April 15th, when he served up two more dingers in just 3.2 Innings. Furthermore, Hudson’s 10.13 ERA against the Brewers is the highest against any particular opponent this season, and the greatest against teams that he’s faced more than once.