Both Arizona and St. Louis find themselves in the thick of a heated National League Wild Card race, which features eight teams within three games of each other vying for the final two postseason spots. The Diamondbacks are just 1.5-games behind the Philadelphia Phillies for the final Wild Card slot, while St. Louis is just 2.0-games back in the chase for October baseball. However, if run differential is to be any sort of indication, this could be Arizona’s Wild Card race to lose, as they sport by far the highest run differential of any team in the race at +53 for the season. Which team will open the second half with a victory in St. Louis on Friday night?
Ray could determine fate of DBacks’ season
With the trade deadline looming, Arizona will have to make a decision on the future of their season over the next few weeks. Right-handed ace Zack Greinke and Friday’s starter, Robbie Ray, are two of the players expected to be available on the trade market at the end of the month. Ray enters a crucial stretch out of the All-Star Break that could determine the direction that both he and the franchise take heading into the July 31 deadline. The 27-year-old has been a strikeout machine since 2016, which could make him attractive to contending teams as a potential starter or a reliever in high-leverage situations.
Following a slow start to the year, the Diamondbacks’ lefty has been performing better as of late. He’s completed six innings or more in six of his last seven starts and he’s posted quality outings in three of his last four trips to the mound. Ray enters with a 6-6 overall record and a 3.96 ERA in 19 starts, but issuing free passes has been a major problem for him over the past two seasons. After surrendering a career-worst 5.09 walks per nine in 2018, Ray has posted 4.64 walks per nine innings of work so far this season. Since 2016, Ray has made four starts against the Cardinals, going 1-2 with a 4.08 ERA. Three of those outings came on the road at Busch Stadium, where he’s posted a stellar 1.42 ERA. According to Baseball Savant, the current Cardinals’ roster is batting .300 in 50 plate appearances off Ray, but StatCast tells a different story, projecting them for an expected batting average of only .191 heading into Friday’s matchup.
Goldschmidt disappointing for Cardinals fans
When the Cardinals dealt for slugger Paul Goldschmidt in the offseason, they sent shockwaves throughout Major League Baseball and established themselves as potential contenders heading into the regular season. Half-way through the 2019 campaign, however, it might be time to acknowledge that the Cardinals didn’t exactly strike gold with the hot-shot first baseman. Prior to his arrival in St. Louis, Goldschmidt was a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate who averaged 30 home runs, 17 steals, a .946 OPS and a WAR of 6.1 over the previous six seasons. Through 82 games, he is batting .254 with 16 home runs and .769 OPS, amounting to a pedestrian WAR of just 1.1 (his lowest mark in a full-season was 3.1 in 2012). However, he will get a chance to get back on the right track with his former team in town over the weekend.
St. Louis will open the series by handing the ball to veteran Adam Wainwright, who finished strong following a slow start to the season. The Cardinals’ right-hander closed the first half by posting a 3.07 ERA over his final five starts and his strikeout rate has sky-rocketed as of late. After collecting just 41 strikeouts in his first 10 starts, Wainwright has 41 over his last six outings dating back to May 28 and he’s only walked 13 batters in 35 ⅓ frames during that span. The 37-year-old comes in with a 5-7 overall record to go along with a 4.31 ERA so far this season. Wainwright has faced the Cardinals three times since 2016, going 2-1 with a 5.28 ERA during that span, but his lone loss came at home at Busch Stadium. That shouldn’t be too much of a concern though, as the veteran has been much better at home compared to on the road. He’s with a 2.68 ERA in eight home starts this year compared to a 6.20 ERA in eight starts away from Busch Stadium. According to Baseball Savant, the current DBacks’ roster is batting .167 in 35 plate appearances off of the Cardinals’ veteran heading into Friday’s matchup.
- Diamondbacks are 2-7 in their last 9 after scoring 5 runs or more in their previous game.
- Diamondbacks are 1-4 in their last 5 road games.
- Diamondbacks are 1-4 in their last 5 road games vs. a right-handed starter.
- Cardinals are 8-2 in Wainwright’s last 10 starts vs. National League West.
- Cardinals are 23-10 in Wainwright’s last 33 starts after allowing 2 runs or less in their previous game.
- Cardinals are 44-20 in Wainwright’s last 64 home starts.