After a disappointing road trip against the Orioles and Marlins, the Cards return home to face the streaking San Diego Padres. The Cards currently sit 2.5 games back of Milwaukee in the Central and sit in a tie for the second wild card spot with the Pirates. The Padres are firmly out of contention but are on a five game winning streak and have won 11 of 14 over the past two weeks.

The Pitching Matchup: John Lackey (12-8, 3.98 ERA) goes tonight for the Cardinals looking to rebound from a miserable start his last time out. In just 5 innings against the Baltimore Orioles, Lackey gave up nine earned runs on 13 hits including three home runs. Lackey has had somewhat of an up and down season for 2014, and his two starts with the Cards reflect that trend. However, according to Fangraphs, Lackey has still managed a 2.3 WAR for 2014 which is standard for a number 3 or 4 starter. Of the current Padres, only Carlos Quentin has faced Lackey with any regularity, but he is on the DL for the series.

Eric Stults (5-13, 4.76 ERA) is pitching for the Padres, and he is looking to build on a successful start against the Pirates. Stults has mostly had a miserable 2014 campaign, mostly due to his heightened home run percentage. He has given up 1.5 homers per nine innings compared to a career rate of just a homer per nine. However, Stults has pitched extremely well in his last two starts, going 12 2/3 innings and only allowing one earned run. Against this current Cardinals’ club, Stults has been owned by Mark Ellis who has hit .462 against him and Matt Holliday who is 3 for 8 with a home run.

The Skinny: This matchup is an intriguing one because career wise, Lackey is certainly the better pitcher but Stults has outperformed him of late. The Cards will need to hope for the return of the old Stults and jump on him quickly because this Padres’ squad is clicking right now and dismantling teams.

The Lineup:

  1. Matt Carpenter 3B
  2. Peter Bourjos CF
  3. Matt Holliday LF
  4. Matt Adams 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta SS
  6. Mark Ellis 2B
  7. Shane Robinson RF
  8. Tony Cruz C
  9. Lackey P