St. Louis is currently in first place in the NL Central, one game up on the Brewers. They are returning from a 4-3 road trip, where they swept the Royals before losing 3 of 4 to the Mets. The Cards have a pretty good home record (21-16) while the Twins road record is still looking to climb back to respectability
Cards manager Tony LaRussa has long been famous for his myriad pitching changes, constantly bringing in new relievers to exploit matchups. Apparently this year, he has found a new toy, the late game defensive replacement. The switches have become so regular and prevalent that a new statistic, the fielding save, has been invented to keep track of it. Fortunately for those of us who tend to leave games early if they take too long, LaRussa hasn’t had to worry about the ninth inning at all this year. His closer, Ryan Franklin has been a most pleasant surprise for the Cardinals (although it’s the kind of surprise that shouldn’t be discussed lest it fall victim to Heisenberg’s Principle of Uncertainty and be altered merely by a fan’s observance of it).
Perkins v. A. Wainwright
Here’s a fortunate coincidence, the three St. Louis pitchers that the Twins will face in this series were just the subject of a rather lengthy post at Viva El Birdos. Concerning Wainwright specifically, it seems like he’s been a little bit more wild this year and allowed a few more home runs (as a side note – being a Twins fan and looking at other pitcher’s BB/9 stat, I feel like I have a skewed perspective. I’m used to Slowey / Radke / Silva numbers, so everyone else’s rates look ridiculously inflated).
Slowey v. T. Wellenmeyer
As discussed in the previous link, Wellenmeyer has had a rough time of it this season. There isn’t really anyone else ready to slide into the rotation, or else he would be gone. Nonetheless, patience is wearing thin for the struggling righty. Lefties apparently destroy Wellenmeyer, so perhaps we should have Joe play catcher and third base just so he can get the extra plate appearances.
Liriano v. J. Pineiro
Piñeiro has been very, very good this year for St. Louis. Apparently he took a little bit off of his fastball, gained some extra movement, and has actually been “keeping the ball down” with a league-leading GB%. This has resulted in a low K rate and a super low HR rate. If you’re thinking you’ve seen that combination before, it appears that Piñeiro is actually a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher from the dead-ball era. That’s fortuitous because lately it has seemed that the Cardinals lineup is constructed to reproduce a complete facsimile of the typical dead-ball offense.