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Orioles-Cardinals series preview: A rare bird brawl

The O’s take a trip to Busch Stadium in St. Louis to begin a three-game set against their feathered foes.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Francisco Giants D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

Although there is nowhere near as much mystique surrounding inter-league matchups as there used to be, it doesn’t make the games any less interesting. The Orioles have not played the St. Louis Cardinals since 2017, a three-game set at Camden Yards in which the O’s took two. It will be the Orioles doing the traveling this time around as they head to Busch Stadium for a three-game set.

The Cardinals enter the series with a record of 16-12, good for second place in the NL Central. Oliver Marmol’s team has been as consistent as it comes. They have yet to lose more than three in a row while also winning no more than three in a row.

It’s a well-rounded squad. Their offense ranks 14th in runs scored (121) and wRC+ (103). Their pitching staff is 9th in ERA (3.45) and 11th in FIP (3.85). And their fielding looks steady as well, generating 10 DRS, which puts them 13th in MLB. If you had to give them a calling card it would be their league-leading 26 stolen bases and a 19.8% strikeout rate, which is one of the three lowest in baseball.

Nolan Arenado has been terrific this season. He has a slash line of .330/.400/.621 and a 193 wRC+ to pair with a team-leading seven home runs. Tommy Edman (152 wRC+) and Paul Goldschmidt (137 wRC+) are also key cogs of the offense. Edman and Harrison Bader have both stolen seven bags. And don’t forget legends Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina. Neither one is having a particularly memorable campaign to wrap up their careers, but it’s still neat to see them play on their farewell tour.

The St. Louis bullpen has been solid to this point. Their 3.11 ERA is 7th in the league, but they have the third-worst strikeout rate (7.57 K/9) and a FIP (3.73) that indicates they have been a tad fortunate. The unit is led by closer Giovanny Gallagos and his six saves. Ryan Helsley is the most dominant arm, striking out two batters per inning through his first eight appearances.

You won’t see staff ace Jack Flaherty this series as he continues build himself back up from shoulder inflammation that has delayed the start to his season. There won’t be any Alex Reyes either. He is yet to pitch this year due to a labrum issue that has him on the 60-day IL.

Game 1: Tuesday, May 10th, 7:45 p.m., MASN 2

Kyle Bradish (0-1, 5.40 ERA) vs. TBD

Bradish remains in search of his first big league win. The rookie took a small step back in his most recent outing against the Twins in which he lasted just four innings after serving up four runs on six hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and a home run. It was the second time through the order that hurt Bradish as he had sailed through the opening three innings.

St. Louis may be waiting on a verdict for Adam Wainwright. The 40-year-old is currently on the COVID IL after testing positive on Friday. He hasn’t pitched since May 4, so he should be plenty fresh. It also helps that the pitcher reported he was asymptomatic, which should allow him to bounce back quickly. He will need to test negative twice before he is cleared to play

Game 2: Wednesday, May 11th, 7:45 p.m., MASN 2

Spenser Watkins (0-0, 3.22 ERA) vs. Miles Mikolas (2-1, 1.53 ERA)

He doesn’t strike many people out. He issues too many walks. And he gives up consistent hard contact. Even still, Watkins remains relatively effective. The righty is yet to allow more than three runs in an outing and boasts a respectable ERA as a result. But it’s fair to remain wary. His xERA is 6.03, so things could crumble.

Mikolas makes hitters put the ball in play, where he lives off of weak contact and lets his defense do the work. His go to pitch is a slider, but he has a five-pitch mix that includes a sinker, curve, four-seamer, and a changeup. It’s the classic crafty makeup that keeps hitters off balance and frustrates fans.

Game 3: Thursday, May 12th, 1:15 p.m., MASN 2

TBD vs. Jordan Hicks (1-2, 3.78 ERA)

Get ready to ogle at the radar gun. Hicks averages 98.7 mph on his sinker, which he throws 65% of the time. He uses it to set up a put-away slider that batters whiff on 58% of the time. As is often the case with flamethrowers, Hicks is also wild, issuing walks at a 14.7% clip.

This is where the doubleheader on Sunday hurts the Orioles a little bit. Jordan Lyles would be up, but he would be working on only three days of rest. What Brandon Hyde decides to do here could depend upon the rest of the series. It feels like a “bullpen day” may be in order with Keegan Akin or Logan Allen tossing the bulk of the innings. There aren’t many favorable options at the moment to pull up from Norfolk, with a struggling Zac Lowther being a possibility.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win in this series against the Cardinals?

  • 9%
    0 (get swept)
    (25 votes)
  • 57%
    1
    (154 votes)
  • 24%
    2
    (66 votes)
  • 9%
    3 (do the sweeping)
    (25 votes)
270 votes total Vote Now