What started out as a promising road trip for the St. Louis Cardinals with a victory Friday night over the division rival Chicago Cubs quickly went south as the Cardinals dropped the final two games of the series against a sub-par Cubs squad with little to play for since about two weeks into the season. While Cubs’ GM Theo Epstein has made it clear his team will undoubtedly be sellers as Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline approaches, the Cardinals head into their three game rodeo with the Colorado Rockies looking to bolster their roster for a playoff push, sitting a manageable 4 games back of division foe Pittsburgh Pirates and the Atlanta Braves in the NL Wild Card standings.
The Cardinals have to be thinking that anything less than taking 2 out of 3 in the series would be a big-time underachievement given that the Rockies sit at a paltry 37-63, good for the 2nd worst record in all of Major League Baseball. The Rockies are coming off a sweep at the hands of the red-hot Cincinnati Reds over the weekend and are a pathetic 2-8 in their last 10 games. While the names Tulo, CarGo, and Cuddyer would indicate the presence of a potent line-up, such has not been the case. The starting pitching has been a disaster dating back to the Rockies’ trade of Ubaldo Jimenez at this time last year so it should come as no surprise that the Mile High crew sits in the lower bowels of the NL West.
This trip to Denver will be the lone trip to the Mile High city for the Cardinals this season, and it will be the latter half of a six game road-trip for the Cards before the club heads home to face the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday evening.
Let’s take a quick look at the starting pitching matchups for the series:
Tuesday: Kyle Lohse (10-2, 2.72) vs. Jeff Francis (3-2, 3.97)
Lohse is quite obviously having a stellar season, whereas Jeff Francis is just trying to do whatever he can to stay healthy. Since the Rockies run to the World Series in 2007, Francis hasn’t been able to stay on the field and produce like many think he is capable of when healthy.
Wednesday: Jake Westbrook (9-8, 3.61) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-6, 4.99)
Westbrook has given the Cardinals everything they could have asked for and more this season. Pomeranz is a 24-year old kid that many in the Rockies organization are high on, but he is still working out the kinks in his game. Expect the Cardinals to put up some runs Wednesday.
Thursday: Lance Lynn (13-4, 3.42) vs. Christian Friedrich (5-8, 6.17)
Did we mention runs on Wednesday? Friedrich has a meteoric ERA of 6.17 which bodes quite well for the Cardinals offense in the thin air of Denver. Although Lynn has tailed off his torrid early season run at a Cy Young, he is still a front-line starter for this team and keeps on giving the team quality start after quality start.
From here on out, it is crucial that the Cardinals start winning series because it’s quite clear that the teams ahead of them in the Wild Card aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, especially with the myriad of moves each team ahead of the Cards have already made to improve their rosters. It’s now officially put up or shut up time for the Cardinals. With that said, the start of a push for the postseason should happen quite easily at the hands of the feeble Rockies.
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