St. Louis Cardinals
One of the National League's most storied franchises, the Cardinals have won 19 NL pennants in their long history, most recently in 2013. They've made the postseason ten times since the Mariners last saw it in 2001, and since the M's came into existence in 1977 the Cardinals have finished under .500 just 11 times. They are the historical example of a well-run club, with plenty of success on the field, a huge and loyal fanbase, and a long list of beloved star players (St. Louis has retired 11 uniform numbers plus a commemoration for Rogers Hornsby, who played in the days before numbered jerseys). In many ways, they are the anti-Mariners.
In the here and now, St. Louis is in a tough National League Central division with a lot of parity. They are currently sitting at .500, but don't let the modest overall record fool you—just 6½ games separates first place from last, all five teams are strong (well, OK, Cincinnati not so much) and with with intra-division games dominating the schedule NL Central teams have a higher degree of difficulty for overall winning percentage. Though only one Cardinal made the NL All-Star team (shortstop Paul DeJong), the club features plenty of star power, with big names including Paul Goldschmidt, Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Adam Wainwright on the squad. Some of these players are having down years, but they're all proven themselves to be among the best in the recent past.
The Cards are missing one such star at the moment—outfielder Marcell Ozuna, who leads the Cardinals in home runs and RBI, is on the injured list with two broken fingers. Carpenter has missed the last couple of games with illness, but it's thought he'll be ready to go sometime this series. Their best active player might be right fielder José Martínez, who holds a career batting line of .303/.366/.460. The knock on him is his glove; the Cardinals have struggled to find a place to play him that minimizes his defensive liability, so we may see him as the team's DH during this series.
On the mound will be a trio of right-handers, Jack Flaherty Tuesday, Wainwright on Wednesday, and Michael Wacha on Thursday. Flaherty is a 23-year-old in his sophomore season, showing a bit of regression from his standout rookie campaign last year; an outstanding power arm, he approached 200 strikeouts last season and is on pace to match that this time, but he leads the National League in home runs allowed with 18 and has an ERA nearly a run-and-a-half higher than last season's mark. Wainwright, a 13-year veteran, is a far cry from what he was in his heyday; nowadays he can be expected to last only five innings or so with about a 1.500 WHIP, but he's still the guy that was a three-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young runner-up. Wacha has yet to replicate the kind of stuff he had four years ago, when he was an All-Star and 17-game winner, and is struggling in his worst statistical season; with an ERA over 5.00 and an unsightly 1.600 WHIP, he's more hittable than he's ever been. Assuming the M's get by those guys, though, the St. Louis bullpen is excellent, even with closer Jordan Hicks on the IL. The Mariners will go with Wade LeBlanc (in a "headliner" role, with manager Scott Servais still thinking the "opener" isn't dumb), Mike Leake, and either Yusei Kikuchi or Tommy Milone on Thursday. Kikuchi is away from the club for the moment on paternity leave and will either be back to make Thursday's start or Friday's against Oakland.
Who’s Hot & Not
Last 10 games
.333/.353/.364, 1 XBH, 1 RBI
.282/.333/.385, 2 XBH, 2 RBI
.184/.279/.289, 2 XBH, 2 RBI, 15 K
.140/.178/.186, 2 XBH, 2 RBI, 11 K
.074/.194/.074, 0 XBH, 0 RBI
Last 3 series vs. Seattle
|6/26/16||STL 11, SEA 6|
|6/25/16||SEA 5, STL 4|
|6/24/16||SEA 4, STL 3|
|9/15/13||STL 12, SEA 2|
|9/14/13||SEA 4, STL 1|
|9/13/13||STL 2, SEA 1|
|6/16/10||SEA 2, STL 1|
|6/15/10||STL 4, SEA 2|
|6/14/10||STL 9, SEA 3|
Mike Shildt: What, not who you expected? Typically, the Cardinals have had well-known names in the manager's seat—your Tony LaRussas, your Whitey Herzogs, your Red Schoendiensts, even your Mike Mathenys. This year is Shildt's first full season as Cards manager; he replaced Mike Matheny in mid-season last year when Matheny was canned for merely being a game over .500 after the All-Star break (there may have been other reasons as well). Though he does have minor-league managerial experience, having led Cardinal farm clubs to three championships over eight years, he is notable for being one of a very few Major League managers with no professional experience whatsoever as a player. He did play collegiately, but immediately went into coaching, as he "couldn't hit a curveball."
Shildt's managerial tenure may be brief, though. Cardinal fans are impatient with his sometimes-baffling decisions and are looking for somewhere to place blame for so many players underachieving this year. Shildt also has had trouble relating to the community and talking to the press, doing himself no favors by criticizing fans and writers for being less-than-enthused about a team that is performing far below what people in Cardinal Nation are accustomed to (remember, these are the anti-Mariners). Even if he lasts the year, odds are that Shildt will be replaced for 2020.
Dominic Leone: A reliever with the Mariners from his debut in 2014 until a truly head-scratching midseason trade in 2015 that sent him, Welington Castillo, and two minor-leaguers to Arizona for Vidal Nuño and Mark Trumbo, Leone has struggled with the Cardinals. He's been up and down between St. Louis and their Triple-A club in Memphis and has posted his worst ERA since his time as a Diamondback in ’15. He had a brilliant season in 2017 as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays (3-0, 2.56 ERA, 1.052 WHIP) but fell off some after a trade to the Cardinals last year.
|St. Louis Cardinals||(1900 - present)|
|World Champions:||1886, 1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967, 1982, 2006, 2011|
|League Champions:||1885, 1887, 1888, 1928, 1930, 1943, 1968, 1985, 1987, 1996, 2004, 2013|
|Division Titles:||1996, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2009, 2014, 2015|