Our friends over at Cards Droppings are providing series previews for each series this year. They have agreed to allow I-70 to reprint those previews throughout the season.
Today, Joe White takes a look at what lies ahead for the Cardinals as they take on the Pirates.
After a somewhat disappointing opening series against the Padres, the Cardinals hope that their offense will wake up in time to take on the Pirates. Pittsburgh comes into town after taking two of three from the Cubbies. We have our first night game of the year, and it’s going to be a cold one at the old ballpark tonight. Not exactly great conditions for our offense to come out of its slumber. TLR goes back to having the pitcher hit ninth a day after he broke out his old trick of hitting the pitcher eighth. Our lineup tonight is as follows: Theriot 6, Rasmus 8, Pujols 3, Berkman 9, Craig 7, Freese 5, Molina 2, Schu 4, Lohse 1. It’s interesting that Jon Jay isn’t getting the nod against a righty.
Here are the pitching matchups:
Kyle Lohse vs RHP Charlie Morton (2-12, 7.57 in 2010)
Kyle McClellan vs RHP James McDonald (4-5, 3.52 in 2010)
Chris Carpenter vs RHP Kevin Correia (1-0, 3.00 in 2011)
The Cardinals really struggled against mediocre pitching last year, and I’m hoping that this isn’t a trend that continues in 2011. Although McDonald and Correia both have good stuff, they’re not ever going to be considered dominate pitchers. It would be nice for the club to take advantage of matchups such as these.
The first two games in this series are going to go a long way in telling us how successful the team can be this year. Hopefully both of the Kyles can have good outings. If they’re successful in the four and five spots, the team should be able to compete night in and night out.
Offensively, the Pirates are headed in the right direction. Their offense is headlined by third baseman Pedro Alvarez and center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Alvarez is a power hitter and McCutchen in a burner who can beat you in multiple ways. Second baseman Neil Walker also has some pop, as he showed on Opening Day with his grand slam. Jose Tabata is another nice piece in their lineup. Where the Pirates fall short is their pitching–they just don’t have the type of power arms that it’s going to take to be competitive in this division. If the Cardinals can’t take advantage of that fact, then it could be a rough series.
The Redbirds definitely need to take advantage of this easier early schedule, even with Matt Holliday out. Hopefully a decision on Holliday will come soon. If he’s only going to be out for another week or so, I would think the club would just play short. If it’s another ten days, it makes no sense to me to play short for that long.