Tag Archives: Dexter Fowler

Phillies and Cardinals continue early May series between first place ball clubs

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Phillies continue tough series with Cardinals in Saint Louis

The Philadelphia Phillies (19-15) lead the National League East Division standings by 1.5 games, two in the loss column, over the Atlanta Braves with the New York Mets four back and the Washington Nationals five back in the loss column.

The Saint Louis Cardinals (21-14) lead the National League Central Division standings by a half-game and .006 percentage points over their arch-rivals, the Chicago Cubs. However, the Cubbies have one fewer loss that than the Cards, who have played three more games.
On Tuesday night the two division leaders will meet in the second game of a three-game set at Busch Stadium III in Saint Louis. The Cards took the opener by a dominating 6-0 on Monday night with the Phillies offense producing just five hits.
Prior to last night’s white-washing the Phillies offense had been rolling, scoring 26 runs over the previous four games. but this was also the 14th time in their first 34 games that the lineup has produced three or fewer runs. It has very much been an all-or-nothing group.
The Cardinals had dropped four straight games prior to Monday night. Before that little mini-losing skid they were scorching hot, with 10 wins over the prior 11 games to get back into the central race following a slow start to the season.

TUESDAY STARTING LINEUPS

PHILLIES LINEUP

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Jean Segura
  3. Bryce Harper
  4. Rhys Hoskins
  5. J.T. Realmuto
  6. Odubel Herrera
  7. Cesar Hernandez
  8. Maikel Franco
  9. Aaron Nola

CARDINALS LINEUP

  1. Matt Carpenter
  2. Paul Goldschmidt
  3. Paul DeJong
  4. Marcell Ozuna
  5. Jose Martinez
  6. Yadier Molina
  7. Dexter Fowler
  8. Kolten Wong
  9. Dakota Hudson

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING MATCHUP

  • Aaron Nola: 2-0, 5.06 ERA, 1.607 WHIP, 44 hits allowed over 37.1 IP with a 38/16 K:BB
  • Nola has been way off his 2018 pace. He has allowed at least seven hits in his last five starts. Looked better over his last two outings, allowing just two runs over 12.1 IP but with just 10 strikeouts and four walks, 14 hits allowed.
  • Nola has pitched well during his career against Saint Louis: 2-2 record with a 2.84 ERA, 17 hits allowed over 25.1 IP across four starts with a 27/6 K:BB. In three games at Busch Stadium he is 1-2 with a 3.50 ERA, 13 hits over 18 IP with a 19/4 K:BB ratio.
  • Dakota Hudson: 2-2, 4.80 ERA, 1.733 WHIP, 37 hits allowed 30 IP with a 26/15 K:BB
  • Hudson is a 24-year-old rookie-eligible who made 26 appearances last season, all as a reliever. This season has made six starts over seven appearances. This will be his first career appearance against the Phillies.
  • Hudson is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee who was the Cardinals first round pick at 34th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PREGAME NOTES

  • With this series the Phillies have begun a stretch of 35 games outside the NL East Division. They had played 23 of their first 32 games within their division, more than any other team in baseball.
  • The Phillies are now just 3-13 in Saint Louis over their last 16 games following last night’s defeat. They are just 12-25 at Busch Stadium since the start of the 2010 season, and have not won a series in Saint Louis since 2012.
  • The Phillies are 14-4 when they score first, 16-4 when scoring four or more runs, 17-1 when leading after six innings, 10-1 when they out-hit their opponents, and 16-6 when hitting at least one home run.
  • Over their last 11 starts the Phillies pitching rotation has accumulated a 2.81 ERA, the best in the National League, with the club posting a 7-4 record over that span.
  • Rhys Hoskins is slugging .620 against right-handed pitching in 2019, fourth-best among all qualified hitters in baseball. For his career, Hoskins has a .572 slugging percentage against righties, ranking 5th among all righty bats in MLB since 1974.
  • J.T. Realmuto has thrown out 10 of 21 base stealers (47.6%), which is both the most base stealers thrown out and the
    highest percentage among all catchers in baseball. Realmuto leads all players in MLB in overall defensive value per FanGraphs’ “Defensive” metric with his 7.7 fielding runs above average.
  • Outfielder Marcell Ozuna has faced Nola more than any Cardinals player, and over 19 at-bats is hitting .316 off the Phillies righty with two home runs. Dexter Fowler has beaten Nola up over their careers to the tune of a .571 average with two homers.

TUESDAY PROGRAMMING INFORMATION

  • Tuesday May 7 at 7:45 pm vs. the Saint Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium
  • TV: NBC Sports Philadelphia; MLB Network (out-of-market only)
  • Radio: SportsRadio 94 WIP, WTTM 1680 (Spanish)

Too Soon to Count Out Slow-Starting Cardinals

The Saint Louis Cardinals, perennial National League contenders, are off to an uncharacteristically slow start this season. 
The team is currently sitting at the bottom of the overall National League standings with a 4-9 record.
Saint Louis has won an NL-record 11 World Series championships. In addition, the franchise has won 19 National League pennants. 
The club has captured 13 division crowns, including 10 in the NL Central, and has been an NL Wildcard playoff team on three occasions.
In recent years, Saint Louis has finished in either first or second place in the NL Central for eight straight seasons. They won the division four times in that span, reached the Fall Classic twice, and won the 2011 World Series.
While the longtime arch-rival Chicago Cubs ran away with the division a year ago, finishing 17.5 games in front of the Cards, that was more a reflection on the Cubbies dominant year.
The Cardinals went a solid 86-76 in the 2016 season, and fell just one game shy of both the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants in the race for another postseason berth.

SLOW START TO THE 2017 SEASON

Before last night’s victory over the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates at Busch Stadium, the team’s 3-9 record represented the worst start to a season by a Cardinals team since 1988.
Cardinals
Manager Mike Matheny was quoted by Derrick Goold for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the slow start as compared to what his club is used to:
“When you have a good start, it’s something you go back to — ‘Hey this is what we do,’” Matheny said. “We haven’t seen it yet. That’s concerning. We will see it, and I think we will see it for long periods of time. They need to sense that winning expectation every time we go out there. It’s amazing how powerful that is. The opposite can happen, too. What we’re fighting is to make sure that doesn’t creep in.”
This team has not suddenly fallen apart. I firmly believe that the Cardinals are simply off to a slow start, and will bounce back to once again make a playoff push.
The Cubs, overwhelming divisional faves once again, are just 6-7 at this point, just two games in front of the Cards. In fact, just three National League teams are more than two games above the .500 mark. None is a traditional contender, or a clear favorite to maintain their current pace.

CARDS OFFENSE STRUGGLING THUS FAR

The biggest culprit has been the offensive attack, such as it is right now. Saint Louis is just 28th in baseball in runs scored, 29th in OPS, and 17th in stolen bases. The statistics don’t lie: they’re not hitting the ball particularly hard, running very well, or scoring many runs.
This is not likely to continue, given health. Yadier Molina is hitting for just a .229/.310/.343 slash line. The 34-year old team leader was signed this off-season to a contract extension that will pay him $20 million per year over each of the three seasons after this one.
Jhonny Peralta is at just a .120/.185/.120 slash. Matt Carpenter has a .222/.362/.306 mark. Big free agent signee Dexter Fowler has a .132/.207/.151 slash line.
These are just the biggest violators in a lineup full of unproductive bats. None of the Cardinals primary starting or bench players is younger than 25 years old. This is not a bunch of bats with no track record. These numbers are not likely to continue so low for much longer.
On the mound, the biggest problem is the bullpen. Closer Seung-hwan Oh, so effective after arriving from Korea a year ago, has a 9.53 ERA after five games. He has allowed two homers among the nine hits that he has surrendered over his first 5.2 innings.

BULLPEN AND WAINWRIGHT STRUGGLING

Jonathan BroxtonKevin SiegristBrett Cecil, and Miguel Socolovich all have ERA’s at least at the 9.00 mark. As a group, the Cardinals bullpen has allowed 30 earned runs on 43 hits over 36.1 innings with a 29/20 K:BB ratio.
Again, these are not a group of arms without a track record. This bullpen is more than likely to begin achieving success as well.
The rotation has been the one solid force thus far in Saint Louis. Now at age 35, Adam Wainwright is no longer the leader, but instead is simply an innings contributor. He has been the least effective of the group by far, allowing 24 hits in 13.2 innings over his first three starts.
Cardinals
Wainwright was quoted as blaming himself for much of the slow start in Goold’s piece:
“I know that Cardinal Nation is ready for me to get my act together. I am, too,” Wainwright said. “Don’t know what to tell you. I wish I had a lot of excuses. … It all starts with the starting pitching. I’ve got three of our losses. You can put three of them on me. I’ll take the blame as much as I can.”

REST OF ROTATION HAS BEEN SOLID

Mike Leake (29) and Lance Lynn (30) have each started off solidly, and can be counted on for consistent outings on most nights. They have combined to allow just 23 hits over 32.1 innings, with a combined 26/7 K:BB over their six combined starts thus far.
A pair of 25-year olds may now be the most talented in the rotation. Michael Wacha has looked good thus far, with a 14/3 K:BB ratio over his first dozen innings.
The biggest talent may be the other 25-year old, righty Carlos Martinez. The Dominican hurler has allowed 16 hits in 17.2 innings with a 24/9 K:BB over his first three starts.

CARDS MAY BE ABOUT TO TURN IT AROUND

The early schedule hasn’t been a friend to the Cardinals. They have thus far faced the Cubs, Nationals, and Yankees in nine of the first 13 games. Those are two of the top NL teams, and the Yanks are one of the hottest starting teams in baseball this year.
Last night’s win began a stretch in which the Cardinals will play 13 of 17 and 21 of their next 29 games in front of some of the best fans in baseball at home in Saint Louis.
It would not surprise me at all if the Cardinals win last night was the beginning of a turnaround. I am looking for Saint Louis to be closer to the top of the division than the bottom by the time those 29 games are over a month from now. There is simply too much talent for the struggles to continue.

Champion Cubs May Have Next Young Star in Albert Almora

The Chicago Cubs ended the more than 70-year old “Curse of the Billy Goat” by powering their way to a 2016 World Series championship.
A group of talented and youthful position players were keys in making that title possible. 
There were a pair of 26-year old players serving as virtual senior citizens in first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right fielder Jason Heyward.
In left field, 24-year old Jorge Soler and 26-year old Matt Szczur saw a lot of playing time. 23-year old Javier Baez was a super-utility guy, playing all over the diamond. The shortstop was 22-year old Addison Russell.
23-year old Willson Contreras largely took over the catching duties by the second half. Another 23-year old, Kyle Schwarber, missed the entire regular season due to injuries. But he returned in time to influence the postseason.
The featured player was 24-year old third baseman Kris Bryant. All he did was take home the NL Most Valuable Player award after winning NL Rookie of the Year the previous season.
On June 7, a rookie outfielder made his debut. Albert Almora would stay with the team through mid-July, then return in September. He made enough of a positive impression that he was kept on the postseason roster by manager Joe Maddon.

Almora hit for a .277/.308/.455 slash line with three homers and 14 RBI over 117 regular season plate appearances. He then went hitless in the postseason.
But then in Game 7 of the World Series vs the Cleveland Indians, Almora had his big moment. He was called on to pinch-run for Schwarber, who had led off the top of the 10th inning of a 6-6 game with a single.
Almora moved to second base on a fly ball. Then with one out, Ben Zobrist drilled a ground double to left field. The speedy Almora flew around third and came home to score the go-ahead run.
The Cubs would tack on one more, which would prove vital when the Tribe came back to score one in the bottom of the 10th. Chicago would hang on to capture the Fall Classic for the first time since 1908.
Now as spring training is underway and the Cubs prepare for defense of a world championship for the first time in more than a century, things have changed for the speedy Almora.
This year, he is penned in as the starting center fielder. He will be replacing veteran Dexter Fowler, who left for the arch-rival Saint Louis Cardinals. And the expectations for Almora are high.
Earlier this week, Paul Skrbina of the Chicago Tribune wrote a piece on Almora. In it, Skrbina quoted Bryant:
“He’s a star in the making. Everybody has seen what he can do, what he’s going to give you on defense. More importantly, you know he’s … going to play his heart out every single day.” ~ Bryant
So far this spring, Almora has been doing his part, continuing to play stellar defense. In his 41 games played last season, Almora didn’t make a single error.
Offensively, he is not expected to become a big contributor. He had just 24 home runs, 100 doubles, 16 triples, and 33 steals in 1,733 minor league plate appearances.
However, he was a .290 hitter in the minors, striking out just 203 times. A classic “contact” hitter in an already powerful lineup, he just needs to chip in now and then. He is certainly more than capable of filling the role.
So far this spring, Almora is hitting .313, and recently chipped in with a grand slam. He is getting plenty of chances. His 32 plate appearances in the Cactus League are tied for second on the club.
A week ago, Tony Andracki with CSN Chicago wrote on the team’s attempts to tap into Almora’s offensive upside potential. In the piece, Andracki quoted a confident Almora:
“I feel like personally, there’s a lot more improvement for myself of the player I can become. So it’s going out there and play, let it happen.”
While Almora is likely to never be more than a complimentary bat in the Cubs lineup, that is all he needs to be. His defensive ability is going to save the Chicago pitching staff a ton of runs.
The Cubs have amassed an enviable collection of good, young players. The odds are that his is just the beginning of a long run of success. Starting in 2017, Almora should prove a key piece on many winning North Side teams in the years to come.