In a possible future playoff matchup, the Cards (52-44) host the Dodgers (54-43) tonight for the first game since the All-Star Break. After a few days’ rest, the Cards will hope to fare better than their last series against the Dodgers, as LA outscored the Cards 17-4 and took three of four games in late June at Dodger Stadium.
Pitching Matchup: Lance Lynn (10-6, 3.14 ERA) comes in with two wins already in his pocket this month after blanking the Marlins in 6.2 innings of work and after a solid start against the Pirates. While the Dodgers pounded Lynn for seven runs in just two innings in June, that start may in fact prove to be a fluke since Lynn suffered a blister on his middle finger that night that slowed the velocity of his fastball, which is his most common and effective pitch. Also, the fact that Lynn was 4-0 with a 1.40 ERA in four previous starts against the Dodgers indicates that his last start may indeed be a fluke. Lynn has not surrendered the long ball to any of the Dodgers players, so it looks like they will have to string together a lot of hits to get past Lynn tonight.
Conversely, Dodgers starter Dan Haren (8-6, 4.23 ERA) has not had a good month up to this point. His ERA has jumped from 3.57 to 4.23 after terrible performances against the Rockies, and, most recently, against the offensively challenged Padres, as he allowed four runs on six hits in just four innings of work. Against the Cardinals, Haren is 4-1 with a 3.86 ERA in six career starts. He does give up a lot of home runs, 19 homers in just 112.2 innings pitched to be exact, so we could see a few dingers tonight. No single player on the Cards has had great success against Haren, but look for Matt Holliday (6 for 23 with 2 homers) to do some damage against him.
Wong looks to keep hot streak going: Second baseman Kolten Wong will look to sustain the offensive momentum he had before the All-Star Break when he homered five times in eight games, which includes a walk-off homer against the Pirates, all while raising his batting average from .228 to .242 in the process.
The Skinny: With Lynn no longer having to worry about blisters, I expect him to pitch as well as he did against the Dodgers last season instead of this season. The Cards should be able to get a few runs off Haren, but I expect a tight, low-scoring game, as many rusty offensive players will attempt to return to form after resting during the All-Star Break.