By: Nate McMullen
What to expect in this four-game series between the Colorado Rockies and the St. Louis Cardinals? Well, the Cardinals are chasing their first playoff appearance since 2015 and the Rockies are just trying to stay away from the bottom of the National League standings. The Cards took the first two games to put them back atop the division. Can they stay hot, or will the Rockies spoil their late-August fun?
Moneyline: COL +165, STL -185
Runline: COL +1.5 (-115), STL -1.5 (+105)
O/U: 9 (O -105, U -110)
First Pitch: 6:15 PM CST, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
Colorado Rockies: The Rockies narrowly avoided a sweep in Arizona before heading to St. Louis for a four-game set against the Cards. They’ve been smashing the ball of late, scoring 43 runs in the seven games preceding Friday with the help of the usual suspects. Charlie Blackmon is hitting .407 with three homers, while Nolan Arenado has five dingers and nine RBIs in that same stretch. Unlike the majority of the season, however, the lineup has recently had support from the pitching staff. Thanks to some solid starts by Jon Gray, Tim Melville (who works part-time at a barbeque joint in Phoenix), and tonight’s starter, the Rockies are 4-3 in the last week. Just imagine if Colorado’s pitching had been solid all year…
If starter Chi Chi Gonzalez (0-4, 5.87 ERA) were competing in an ugly stats contest, he’d surely win. After making his season debut in late June, Gonzalez has yet to win a game while compiling a sky-high ERA. Those nasty numbers can be deceiving, though, because he was sharp in last start (six innings, two earned runs) until a Ketel Marte two-run dinger in the sixth. Chi Chi needs to stay hot against the streaking Cardinals.
St. Louis Cardinals: At 69-58, the Cardinals are in the heat of the playoff race. They’re 0.5 games over the Cubs in the Central, who currently hold the second Wild Card slot. At any rate, they need to keep winning, and who better to fuel them than the two Pauls? Actually, Goldy and DeJong have had a brisk August, neither of them batting over .250 while combining for only eight homers and 19 RBIs in 19 games. But the Cards are still deep in contention, so what happens when the pair of Pauls start playing like they can? In the meantime, St. Louis will be content riding a 3.52 August ERA and a scorching month from rookie outfielder Lane Thomas, who’s put up a 1.106 OPS in his first stretch of consistent big-league playing time.
Dakota Hudson (12-6, 3.63 ERA) is having a spectacular sophomore year. He leads all Cardinals with 12 wins and is one of three pitchers with 100+ innings pitched. Despite a small rough patch—4.04 ERA in his last seven appearances—Hudson has two consecutive starts of at least six innings pitched and no runs allowed. The potent Rockies lineup provides a new challenge for the young stud as he looks to help boost the Cardinals into the playoffs.
Analysis and Prediction: Each starting pitcher enters tonight’s matchup on the tail of a hot start their last time out. The Rockies are 5-5 in their last 10, while the Cardinals are 7-3. Colorado has been significantly better against right-handed pitching, collecting 111 homers with a .268 average and a .326 OBP; the Cards hit .244 with 120 homers in 360 more at-bats. However, my concern is with Colorado’s bullpen, which allows runners at a .340 clip. Gonzalez won’t go long—his longest appearance in this year is six innings—and a red-hot Redbirds lineup should eat up Rockies relievers. Go with the oddsmakers and the Cardinals as St. Louis continue their hunt for a red October.