After two close low-scoring games to start this four-game set, the Cards look to break open the floodgates this evening against former Cy Young winner Zack Grienke (9-4, 2.89 ERA). Set to pitch for the Cards is Lance Lynn (8-5, 2.90 ERA), one of two remaining healthy starters in this rotation.
Over his last three games, Lynn has been impeccable, throwing 22 innings while only giving up two earned runs and striking out 20 batters. Lynn is quietly having one of the best seasons of his career despite a dipping K/9 rate and only average peripheral stats. All of Lynn’s career stats indicate that this season is nothing different from the norm for him, thus proving that the Lynn we see is not a mirage or result of extreme good fortune; Lynn is just an above-average pitcher. For most teams, Lynn would be the number two, but on this loaded Cardinals’ pitching staff, Lynn is the number four starter. Look at these stats provided by Baseball-Reference and take solace Cards fans, your rotation (when healthy) is damn good.
Coming from the other dugout is the Dodgers second ace, Zack Grienke. Obviously much has been said this season about Clayton Kershaw with his monster contract extension and no-hitter earlier this month, but Kershaw is arguably not even the sole ace of this staff. He’s 1A. Grienke here is 1B. For the season, Grienke’s stats are impressive as his 2.89 ERA speaks for itself and 101 strikeouts in just 96 innings points to spectacular stuff. Grienke has struggled recently, however; giving up 11 earned runs over his past three starts spanning 17 2/3 innings pitched. Most of Grienke’s failures this season have stemmed from his propensity to give up the long ball, as he’s already served up 11 dingers through 16 starts. The scouting report on Grienke holds true, though; he’s not going to walk a lot of batters, will give up some hits, but can easily pitch his way out of tough spots with the strikeout.
The Skinny: After two low-scoring games the past two nights, don’t expect tonight to be any different. With these two quality pitchers on the mound, runs will be at a premium for both teams. Usually, I would give the edge to Grienke because of his history of success, but Lynn has had the hot hand of late and has proved to me that his stats are for real. If the Cards can scratch across a couple of runs early, I believe they will have taken the lead in this series by the end of the night.