The Philadelphia Phillies visit Busch Stadium to take on the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night. Philadelphia has been playing well this season, amassing a 24-16 record. This record is good enough to put the Phillies in second place in the National League East division, one half game behind the Atlanta Braves.
Meanwhile, St. Louis has a similar record of 23-17, putting them in 3rd place in the National League Central division. The Cardinals trail the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Milwaukee Brewers. For Philadelphia, Vince Velasquez will be taking the mound. Velasquez owns a 3-4 record on the year along with a 5.05 ERA. Luke Weaver will get the nod for the Cardinals. Weaver is 3-2 so far this year and sports a 4.95 ERA. St. Louis is favored in this matchup: at -135.
Philadelphia certainly has a reason to come into this game confident. One main reason why is named Odubel Herrera. On top of being a consistent starter in center field, Herrera has a ridiculous .357 batting average through 38 games. He has also driven in 24 runs. Herrera gets on base over 43% of the times he is up to the plate, and a .561 slugging average has gotten him in scoring position enough for him to cross the plate 23 times. Having this man in the lineup will always help Philadelphia’s chances of winning.
However, a point of concern for Philadelphia could be the pitching. Although Velasquez has three wins, his ERA is also above 5. This usually means one of two things: a hot hitting team provided enough run support to carry him to victory 3 times, or he is extremely inconsistent. Either scenario could make him appear as a liability.
St. Louis Cardinals
Tommy Pham has been a consistent contributor for St. Louis this year. Pham is batting .312 so far this season. He has also driven in 18 runs, making him an integral part of the Cardinal offense. Much like the aforementioned Herrera, Pham is a master at getting on base. He reaches base 42% of the time, having walked 23 times this year.
Overall consistent offense has been the recipe for success in St. Louis. While Pham has certainly been the most outstanding hitter in the lineup, there are 7 players hitting .250 or higher for the Cardinals. Having many other players hitting the ball well makes the high on base percentage for guys like Pham even more important. Getting guys on base means more opportunities to drive in runs, and more runs means more opportunities to win.
Phillies Top Cardinals
This game is a matchup of two good teams. Also, a team’s season is not defined nor decided by any one player. However, individual games can certainly be decided by individual performances. It’s not too far-fetched to expect a good performance from the sizzling Odubel Herrera. I think he will continue the Philly trend of finding ways to get on base (not to mention all the extra base hits he has managed to get), and then getting a key hit from a teammate to drive him in. Also, having runners in scoring position often will up the pressure on Luke Weaver, who has had marginal stats to go along with his winning record. It will be interesting to see how he handles a team that gets on base so often. Take Philadelphia at +125.
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