Today at 1:15 PM CST, the Cardinals (40-35) finish their four game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium. After the series the Cardinals leave on a ten game West Coast road trip to Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco before returning home July 4th. After dropping the first two games of the series, stopper Adam Wainwright pitched the Cards to a 4-1 win yesterday, setting the Cardinals up for the chance to split the four game series today.
It will be Carlos Martinez (0-3, 4.19 ERA) who gets the ball for the Cards because Michael Wacha is being benched to limit his innings. Rather than overtax Wacha, who the team expects to have for the postseason, Mike Matheny will send out Martinez. Martinez last started six days ago against the Mets and gave up one unearned run in four innings pitched. He’d only been used as a reliever until that point this season, so after throwing 59 pitches in that start, Martinez should be a little more stretched out. He also has not pitched at all out of the bullpen in the days since, so it looks like this start had been planned all along.
Jack-of-all-trades Kyle Kendrick (3-6, 3.97 ERA) will get the ball for the Phillies. Kendrick owns rather pedestrian statistics and has been the Phillies’ most consistent starter all year through rotation injuries. He’s a classic back of the rotation starter. However, his last start was arguably his strongest, giving up 2 ER on 6 hits while striking out 6 over 7 strong innings of work. The fact that he did it against a powerful Braves lineup makes it all the more impressive.
Martinez looked electric in his last start. Most of the Phillies have never faced Martinez, and that kind of unfamiliarity often works in a pitcher’s favor. Having six days of rest helps too. Matt Adams is .500 against Kendrick in eight at-bats and Matt Carpenter is .333 against him in six at-bats, so look for them to continue that measure of success.
The key statistic for me is this: In 14 starts this year, Kendrick has given up 3 earned runs or more in 8 of them. If the Cardinals can get that many runs off him, coupled with how electric their fireballers have been, they should be in a good position to win today.