Today the home town team returns to St. Louis to battle the Washington Nationals for three games over the weekend. Lance Lynn (6-4, 3.49 ERA) starts off this series against the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman at 7:15 CST tonight. Lynn has been everything but effective in his last two starts, only throwing 8 1/3 innings while giving up nine runs, six of which were earned. While this certainly hasn’t been a successful stretch for Lynn, he can be optimistic for tonight’s game with the news that first baseman Matt Adams is expected back in the lineup. This development should alleviate the lack of run support Lynn has been receiving, as the Cards have only scored one run in his two outings without Adams. Lynn has only pitched against Washington once before in his career, going 5 2/3 innings while giving up one run on five hits.
Pitching for the other side in this series opener is the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmerman (5-2, 3.17 ERA). Zimmerman has been exceptional as of late, throwing back-to-back shutouts, one of which was a complete game. In total, over his last two starts, Zimmerman has thrown 17 innings, giving up seven total hits with 16 strikeouts. Absolute domination is about the only way to describe the streak he is currently on, to the point where Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson would be jealous. Zimmerman has pitched against the Cards only once before this season, taking the loss in a game where he gave up one earned up over 7 innings. While Zimmerman’s track record is very impressive as a whole, the statistic that sticks out to me is that he has only given up five home runs over 76 2/3 innings pitched this season. For his career, Zimmerman has also been stingy with the long ball as he consistently ranks towards the top of the league in home run to fly ball ratio.
The Skinny: In terms of a straight pitchers duel, the edge goes to Zimmerman as he has the hot hand of late. However, with Adams’s return to the lineup and the Cardinals tendency to dominate in Busch Stadium, don’t be surprised if Zimmerman’s recent run of success comes to an end tonight. If Lynn can shut the door from the outset and keep the game close, the Redbirds will have a strong chance to win an important game to start a critical series against a contending team.