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The St. Louis Cardinals play host to the Milwaukee Brewers in a crucial National League showdown on Monday night from Busch Stadium. The Brewers have put together a strong September to find themselves atop the NL Central by six games as they head into the final stretch. The Cardinals sit in the basement of the standings themselves, simply playing the role of spoiler in this one. On the season, these two divisional rivals have only squared off six times, with each team having won three times, though both rosters have evolved quite a bit since then. The Brewers will be favorites but the Cardinals can't be slept on either, especially at home.
Brewers Eyeing October BaseballIt has been a season-long battle in the NL Central but with September quickly turning to October, the Brewers look poised to come away with the NL Central divisional title. They sit six games ahead of the Cubs behind them, while even a slight collapse would still have them in good shape when it comes to the Wild Card race. They've gone 7-3 over their last ten games, which is one of the best recent marks in baseball, while a winning road record will certainly instill some confidence as well. It's crazy to think that these two divisional rivals haven't squared off against each other since back in May but given Milwaukee's growth since the spring, they should be feeling great as they hit the road on Monday.
According to MLB.com, The Brewers will hand the ball off to Freddy Peralta to set the tone as they kick off this mid-week series. The righty enters as one of the most experienced arms in the rotation, as well as bringing in a 12-8 record and 3.79 ERA. He's only allowed more than two earned runs twice in his last eight starts while coming off of a 6.1-inning outing, that saw him allow two hits and one run. He was shelled in a May start against the Cardinals, allowing six runs in 5.1 innings of work, though only allowed one run when they squared off in April.
Milwaukee's offense has struggled at times this season, only averaging 4.6 runs per game and hitting .237 as a team, though it hasn't impacted them in the standings. Having to lean heavily on pitching is an issue that they'll want to be rectified by the time October rolls around, with this mid-week representing a great chance at that. Christian Yelich (back) is questionable, which is far from ideal, especially with Jesse Winker(back) already out as well. Yelich is probably their most dangerous hitter but Willy Adames (24 home runs, 77 RBI) has paced them throughout the season as well. The lineup seems dangerous enough to handle the Cardinals but they'll need to make sure Yelich can make a return sooner rather than later.
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Cardinals Limping Towards 2024The Cardinals started the season struggling and despite a few solid weeks of play, could never quite get over the hump or close the gap on the leaders atop the division. They've gone 5-5 over their last ten games heading into this one, showing that they at least haven't given up on the season. It hasn't helped that what was once one of the best home advantages in baseball, has seen them struggle this season, where they sit 32-42. They have shown success against the Brewers already on the season, having split the season series with them up to this point, though with the last meeting coming in May, so much has changed for these teams since then. Expect the Cardinals to try to play the role of spoiler but with limited talent at their disposal, it might be too much to ask.
According to MLB.com, Adam Wainwright will get the ball for the home side in this one. The righty brings his own wealth of experience into this one, but has struggled this season. With a 4-11 record and 7.95 ERA, it's difficult to imagine him finding a ton of success in this one. He has allowed two runs or fewer in two of his last three starts, as consistency has been the biggest issue for him to overcome.
Their offense isn't much different than what Milwaukee is dealing with, averaging the same number of runs per game, while hitting .250 as a team themselves and averaging close to nine hits per game. Looking at the injury report, it makes sense that the offense has struggled to find success. Tyler O'Neill (foot), Dylan Carlson (ankle), Nolan Gorman (hamstring), and Brendan Donovan (elbow), are all starters who are likely out for the rest of the season. With Paul Goldschmidt (.273 average) and Nolan Arenado (92 RBI) in the lineup, there are avenues for run production in this one.
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The Brewers will come away with the road on Monday, as one of baseball's hottest teams keeps the wins coming. The Brewers have leaned on strong pitching all season long and there's no doubt that being able to rely on Peralta in this one will be instrumental towards their success. It helps them that the Cardinals are missing a number of starting position players and the lineup simply lacks the punch that they'll need to get the run production needed for a win in this one. Expect the Brewers to do just enough on the road, to come away with a win by a couple of runs.
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Both of these offenses average 4.6 runs per game on the season and with the recent run of injuries across both lineups, that will only keep the scoring down even more than anticipated. The Brewers are likely to be without Yelich, while the Cardinals are to be without a handful of starters from throughout the season. Beyond that, this one also has a pair of pitchers against each other who are accustomed to the lineups that they'll be facing. Peralta and Wainwright are both experienced and know how to navigate these lineups. It won't take many runs to win this one, in what should be one of the lowest-scoring games on Monday night's slate.