There are many meaningless games this week, but this is not one of them. The Milwaukee Brewers and Cardinals meet in St. Louis for a three-game series at Busch Stadium. Every game is been critical for the Brewers and Cardinals since the All-Star break, but it’s about to get ratcheted it up a gear as we enter the most important series of the year for these two ball clubs. The Brewers currently own a 2-game lead on the Cards for homefield in the Wild Card Game.
Then there is the Colorado Rockies who are 1.5 games out for the last wildcard. The Pirates are the next time in line, but are way out of the picture. The NL Central is still up for grabs here as well, so there is a lot going on. The Cubs have a 2.5-game lead over the Brewers at the moment, with the Cards 4.5 back. That looks like an unrealistic scenario for the Cardinals to catch the Cubs. It’s certainly within reach for the Brew Crew, though.
What the Cardinals should be focused on is having a rematch against the Brewers here at Busch Stadium in a week. With three games vs the Brewers upcoming, it’s going to present the perfect opportunity to accomplish that. The Brewers are a good team, though, so it’s not going to be particularly easy.
After this series, the Cardinals will wrap up the regular season against the Cubs. So, it’s not impossible to win the division, it’s just going to be difficult, especially with three games in Wrigleyville. The Brewers are coming off a 12-6 win over the Pirates on Sunday, as they took two of three in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Cardinals walloped the Giants, 9-2, to complete a sweep at Busch Stadium. I’m batting around .500 with my MLB picks this year, so a strong push at the end of September and in October would be nice. Head below for our free Brewers vs. Cardinals pick.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals Pick
*Bullpen Game (88-67, 3.55 ERA) vs. Jack Flaherty (9-8, 3.08 ERA)
It’s been a collective team effort for the Cardinals this season. Getting production out of rookie pitcher Jack Flaherty has been helpful. You never know what you’re going to get from a guy new to the rotation, but Flaherty has been more than effective. He made five spot starts last season as he got his feet wet as a minor leaguer in the big leagues. Flaherty finished with an ERA of 6.33 in a pretty brutal welcome for him. He’s certainly responded well, with an ERA of 3.08 in 26 starts.
Flaherty just has to keep it together as we enter territory that he’s never been before. He has never pitched in a game as important as tonight, and if they do in fact clinch a spot in the postseason, everything is going to be turned up a notch again. He is coming off a poor start against the Braves, where he allowed 5 hits and 5 runs in 4.2 innings. However, he’s allowed 2 or less runs in seven of his last nine outings. Flaherty is also rock solid at home with an ERA of 2.74 and 1.03 WHIP. His history against the Brewers has been on point, as he’s foiled them for a .149 batting average in 67 at-bats. Jesus Aguilar is the only hitter to go long on Flaherty.
The Brewers are going with a move that the Tampa Bay Rays originally made famous. They are not going with a true starter here, instead they are going to experiment and play it by ear. Like we’ve seen in an All-Star Game, a pitcher might get an inning or two, and then hand the ball off to the next guy in line. Hitters have to continually adjust to the new pitcher on an inning to inning basis. It has worked surprisingly well for the Rays, and for a team with a strong bullpen like the Brewers, this has a good chance of working.
Milwaukee are 6th in the majors, with their relievers posting a collective ERA of 3.55. Chase Anderson was originally supposed to get the nod here, but he’s been scratched in favor of playing the pitcher-by-committee approach. The Brewers will have guys that have experience starting games in the bullpen that will be available to pitch: Freddy Peralta, Junior Guerra, Chase Anderson, and Brandon Woodruff. This game is likely going to resemble a postseason atmosphere in St. Louis. If you’re looking for a pick on this game, I’d look towards the UNDER.