Believe it or not, there’s actually a baseball game going on in St Louis today. Surprisingly, even with the Blues in the Stanley Cup, MLB decided to have a baseball game. Crazy, I know. The Cubs and Cardinals finish up their weekend series on Sunday as two of the top three NL Central teams go head to head. Will the Cards creep closer to the top spot, or will Chicago avoid the series sweep?
The series finale will feature two wily old vets dueling at Busch Stadium. With a combined 600-plus starts, Cole Hamels and Adam Wainwright will once again face off. For Hamels, 2019 has been another very solid season in his long career. Currently at 4-1, his ERA sits a shade over 4, and he has a higher K/9 this season than his career average. A big reason why Hamels can stay so relevant and solid is his ability to get swing and misses consistently. His O-Swing%, as well as his Z-Swing%, are both almost exactly on par with his career averages. So are his Contact% and SwStr%.
At 37 years old, it was kind of surprising that Adam Wainwright returned for another season in St. Louis. The former first-round pick isn’t having the same success that Cole Hamels is having though. His ERA is almost at 5, and he hasn’t had an ERA under 4.40 in a full season since 2014. In his last start, he struck out 10 batters for the first time in over five years but still gave up four earned runs in six innings and took the loss. The saving grace for Cards fans, however, is that Wainwright is much, much better at home than on the road. He has a 3-1 record in St. Louis with an ERA of 3.00.
Hitters To Watch
For the Cardinals, it is slugger Marcell Ozuna. While his first season in St. Louis was a bit of a disappointment, he’s off to a great start in 2019. His average might be down so far, sitting somewhere in the .240s, but he has found his power stroke that was there in his last season in Miami. His HR/FB% is at 25%! His wRC+ is also at 120, 14 points higher than his number last season. Maybe the most impressive stat of all, however, is his 50% hard hit percentage. That is otherworldly. Oh, and by the way, he already has three career jacks off of Hamels.
On the Chicago side, it’s the big first baseman, Anthony Rizzo. The last 15 days, he’s been on an absolute tear. He has 21 hits in his last 55 at-bats including five home runs. He also has solid career numbers off of Wainwright, batting .265 in 49 career at-bats.
This is a tough one to pick. Two veteran starters who don’t necessarily give their respective teams the most length. Therefore, this game will most likely come down to the bullpens. While the Cubs bullpen has the better ERA, the Cardinals strike out more batters while walking less and have a lower BABIP. The Cardinals at home, where Wainwright feels comfortable, is the pick here.
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