Tag Archives: Yadier Molina

Phillies welcome in the Saint Louis Cardinals for three late-May games

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The Saint Louis Cardinals visit Philly for three late-May games

Saint Louis Cardinals (26-26) of the NL Central Division in a three-game series scheduled to begin on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies remain on top of the NL East Division standings by 1.5 games, two in the loss column, over the Atlanta Braves. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been slumping, falling to four games off the pace set by their arch-rival Chicago Cubs.
Earlier this month, the Phillies took two of three games from the Cards in a series at Busch Stadium. Saint Louis won the opener in a 6-0 shutout, then the Phils stormed back for 11-1 and 5-0 wins to take the series.
After a victory on May 1 over the Washington Nationals, the Cardinals sat 10 games over the .500 mark and three games up in their division. But since that time they have collapsed, dropping 16 of their last 22 games.
The main culprit has been their anemic offensive attack, which has put more than four runs on the scoreboard just nine times in that stretch. However, their pitching staff has also allowed the opposition to score in double-digits four times during what has turned into a nightmarish month of May.
The Cardinals scoring offense has produced similar results to the Phillies over the full course of the season. They are averaging exactly five runs scored per game, while the Phillies average is at 4.96 per game.
Saint Louis is 7th and the Phillies 8th ranked in the National League in OPS, and the Cards have slugged three more home runs. They are also much more prone to run, ranking in a tie for 2nd in the NL in stolen bases with 30, while the Phillies 17 steals puts them near the bottom of the league.
The Cardinals pitching staff is 5th in the NL in batting average against (.241), far better than the Phillies staff (.259) rank of 14th in the league. Neither staff is particularly overpowering, with the Phillies hurlers ranking 12th and the Cardinals pitchers 13th in the NL in strikeouts.
I’ve been talking for a couple of weeks now about this crucible of a schedule stretch which the Phillies are currently navigating their way through. To this point they have held their own, going 8-6 against tough opposition over the last two weeks.
This grueling stretch of games against talented teams will head back out on the road following this brief home series with Saint Louis. The Phillies will travel out to face the National League’s top team and the winners of the last two NL pennants, the Los Angeles Dodgers, over the weekend. The stretch will then end early next week with three games at improved San Diego.
Winning series. That’s what it continues to be all about for these 2019 Phillies. Taking at least two of three here against Saint Louis will be important before heading out to the west coast.

SAINT LOUIS CARDINALS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

  • Paul Goldschmidt: The 31-year-old first baseman was traded from Arizona to Saint Louis back in December for three prospects and a draft pick. He is slashing .264/.357/.433 and is second on the club with 10 homers. An NL All-Star for the last six straight seasons. Runner-up for the NL MVP in both 2013 and 2015, 3rd in voting in 2017. Three-time Gold Glover and four-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
  • Marcell Ozuna: The 28-year-old right fielder was acquired during the Miami Marlins fire sale back in December 2017 for four prospects. He is slashing .230/.316/.508 and leads the club with 14 homers and 45 RBIs.
  • Paul DeJong: A 25-year-old shortstop who was runner-up for the 2017 NL Rookie of the Year Award, DeJong has broken out as a potential All-Star this season. He is slashing .295/.396/.518 and has been the club’s most consistent offensive performer, leading the team with 26 extra-base hits and 39 runs scored.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Yadier Molina: The perennial NL All-Star and possible future Hall of Famer turnes 37-years-old in mid-July. He has been an NL All-Star in nine of the last 10 seasons, and won eight Gold Gloves at catcher over the last 11 years. Molina is hitting .317 over the course of his big-league career against the Phillies, and his 11 homers against them are the most he has hit against any non-divisional opponent. He is hitting .309 with seven of those homers coming at Citizens Bank Park.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

  • Adam Wainwright (37): 4-4, 4.82 ERA, 1.414 WHIP, 51 hits allowed over 52.1 IP including 8 HR with a 41/23 K:BB
  • Genesis Cabrera (22): a native of the Dominican Republic, this will be his big-league debut.
  • Dakota Hudson (24): 3-3, 4.22 ERA, 1.631 WHIP, 63 hits over 53.1 IP including 9 HR with a 38/24/K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

  • Harrison Bader: 25-year-old righty bat outfielder slashing .265/.379/.449
  • Matt Wieters: 33-year-old backup catcher formerly starter with Orioles is slashing .333/.346/.458
  • Michael Wacha: 27-year-old righty was just moved to the bullpen after making nine starts
  • Jordan Hicks: 22-year-old second-year righty has 10 Saves as the closer, with a 4.24 ERA and 1.235 WHIP
  • John Gant: 26-year-old righty having strong season with 1.26 ERA, 0.698 WHIP, 31/8 K:BB over 28.2 IP
  • John Brebbia: 29-year old righty also strong with a 1.61 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 33/10 K:BB over 28 IP
  • Andrew Miller: 34-year-old lefty famous with Indians, 4.19 ERA, 1.397 WHIP, 25/10 K:BB over 19.1 IP

THE SKIPPER

Mike Shildt is in his second season at the helm after taking over around the mid-point of last season. He took over from longtime skipper Mike Matheny with the club just a game over the .500 mark in third place and 7.5 out in the division. Club went 41-28 under his guidance, finishing just three games out of an NL Wildcard berth.
The 50-year old Schildt was a scout and minor league coach in the Cardinals organziation. He was given a chance to  manage with their short-season affiliates back in 2009 and rose through their organizational and coaching ranks, becoming third base coach in Saint Louis in 2017. Schildt was named the interim manager after Matheny was fired, and then in late August 2018 was given a three-year contract and became the permanent skipper.

PHILLY SERIES WEATHER REPORT

This could be a touch-and-go series as far as the Philadelphia weather goes. There is a 90% chance of precipitation on Tuesday and 80% on Wednesday, dropping to 40% or less on Thursday. There is a strong chance of storms just prior to game time for Tuesday’s opener, and then a 90-95% chance of thunderstorms between 7-9pm.
For Wednesday, there is a 60% chance of storms at the scheduled first-pitch time after an afternoon of rain. However, once that system passes the chances or precipitation drop to 15% by 8pm. Thursday looks fine at this point, but with a chance of afternoon storms.

MLB Japan Series roster will include two members of the Philadelphia Phillies

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Hoskins will likely play the outfield and first base in Japan

The roster for the team representing Major League Baseball in the 2018 Japan All-Star Series against stars from Nippon Professional Baseball was announced today.

Two Phillies players, Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, were named as members of the MLB squad. They will take part in a series of seven games to be played between the MLB and NPB stars from November 8-15 at various ball parks across Japan.
Santana was named as an infielder, with Hoskins listed as an outfielder. Other infielders named to the MLB roster were Whit MerrifieldChris TaylorEugenio Suarez, and Amed Rosario. With none of those as natural first basemen, you could see both Santana and Hoskins man the position in a platoon.
Others listed as outfielders on the roster were Mitch HanigerKevin PillarEnrique Hernandez, and a pair of exciting young players from Phillies division rivals, Ronald Acuna of the Braves and Juan Soto of the Nationals. The catchers for the MLB squad will be Yadier MolinaRobinson Chirinos, and J.T. Realmuto.
The MLB pitching staff will feature two members of the World Series-champion Boston Red Sox, left-hander Brian Johnson and righty Hector Velazquez.
The only southpaws on the MLB staff will be Daniel Norris and Vidal Nuno.
Also on the MLB staff will be right-hander Kenta Maeda of the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Maeda hails from Senboku-gun, Japan, which is in the northern part of the main island, about 350 miles north of Tokyo.
MLB will be sending an experienced coaching staff under manager Don Mattingly. The staff will include former playing greats Edgar Martinez and Hideki Matsui, the latter of whom was the 2009 World Series MVP in the New York Yankees six-game victory over the Phillies.
This will be the 37th time that MLB stars have toured Japan dating back to 1908. MLB Network will provide live coverage of most of the games and many events. The games will take place in the Tokyo Dome, at Mazda Zoom Zoom Stadium in Hiroshima, and at the Nagoya Dome in Nagoya.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as “Two Phillies named to MLB Japan All-Star Series roster

Cardinals sweep their way back into the NL Wildcard race

Molina (R) settles pitcher Martinez (L) in Cards key win

What a difference four days have made for the Saint Louis Cardinals. After being swept this past weekend by the arch-rival and NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs, it seemed their season was over.

National League standings following games of Sunday, September 17, showed the Cardinals with a 77-72 record. That left the team 4.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies for the final NL Wildcard berth with just 13 left to play.

Flash-forward five days. Following an off-day on Monday, the Cards proceeded to sweep the host Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series.

Meanwhile, the Rockies were collapsing on a four-game losing streak. The Milwaukee Brewers, also residing in the NL Central and also chasing Colorado, have dropped their last two games.

Suddenly, the Cardinals are right back in that NL Wildcard race. Thursday night’s 8-5 win at Great American Ball Park raised their record to 80-72. That leaves Saint Louis tied in the loss column with Milwaukee, just a game behind Colorado.

These guys were coming off a tough weekend, and they did a nice job of clearing their minds of that,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon.


 

With the Cards clinging to a 4-3 lead in the top of the 7th inning, veteran catcher and leader Yadier Molina came through for his team once again. His double to center field scored Jose Martinez to make it 5-3.

Molina hustled to third base when the throw came to the plate. He would then score himself on a ground out by Kolten Wong to make it 6-3.

In the top of the 9th inning, it was a pair of lesser-known Cardinals hitters who came through. Greg Garcia, pinch-hitting for reliever Tyler Lyons, clutched a two-out RBI double to make it a 7-4 game. Alex Mejia followed with an RBI single to bring home Garcia.

Scott Schebler led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer off Cards’ reliever Zach Duke. But the veteran lefty then worked his way safely through the rest of the frame, and the Cardinals had their key victory.

“When you’re coming off a sweep, the best way to solve that is with a sweep in your favor,” Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter said per Sheldon.

Sweep they did, and now the Cardinals are right back in a race that they seemed out of just days ago. The challenge now with just ten games to go will be to keep on winning. 

Carpenter had a pair of his and a walk out of the leadoff spot, scoring one of the Saint Louis runs. Dexter Fowler had three hits, including a pair of doubles, driving in two runs and scoring two more.

Carlos Martinez was credited with the win, raising his record to 12-11 on the season. He yielded nine hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings, striking out six and walking just one Cincy batter.

Saint Louis continues on the road for three this weekend at PNC Park against the host Pittsburgh Pirates. The team then returns home to finish up the regular season with a four-gamer against the Cubs, followed by three final potential showdown games next weekend with the Brewers.

Prior to that series, Milwaukee hosts the Cubs for three this weekend at Miller Park. The Reds will then follow Chicago in next week for three games.

Colorado will try to snap out of their recent untimely funk this weekend at Petco Park, where they take on the host San Diego Padres for three games. That will be followed by visits from the Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers to Coors Field for three each to wrap the regular season.

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.

NLCS: Cardinals over Giants

Managers Bruce Bochy & Mike Matheny meet again in NLCS

For the last four years, either the Saint Louis Cardinals (2011, 2013) or the San Francisco Giants (2010, 2012) have won the National League pennant.

The Giants in both their winning years, and the Cards in 2011, would ultimately also win the World series.

During these last four years in which the two franchise’ have dominated the NL postseason, they met just once. The Giants edged out the Cardinals in 7 games in the 2012 NLCS, rallying after falling behind 3-1 in games.

The two clubs took different paths to this 2014 rematch. The Cards again won the NL Central Division crown for the 2nd straight season, and for the 8th time in the last 15 years. The Giants got in as an NL Wildcard team after finishing 6 games behind the LA Dodgers in the NL West race.

Despite their different methods of reaching the NLCS, both are here again, and that can likely be attributed to their previous recent playoff experience. Both of these teams, their managers, and many of the individual players are used to competing in the increased glare and under the added pressure of October baseball.

The teams met twice during the regular season. Back at the end of May, the Giants took 3 of 4 at Busch Stadium. Then at the very beginning of July, the Cards travelled to AT&T Park and took 2 of 3. So the GMen owned a 4-3 edge in the regular season series. It’s my pick here that this series will be decided by that same margin, just as their 2012 NLCS. But this time, Saint Louis comes out on top.

The Cardinals finished as the 3rd best team in the National League, and at #9 overall, in the final Power Ranking back at the beginning of October. The Giants meanwhile finished just 17th overall in MLB. The belief here is that the holes causing San Fran to finish that low will ultimately prove the difference between these battled-tested squads.

Cards’ ace Adam Wainwright is one of the best pitchers in baseball today

The difference makers between the teams are team pitching and defense. While the Cards were the 5th-ranked team in all of baseball in the Fangraphs WAR team defensive rankings, the GMen finished just 16th. Now especially missing injured outfielder Angel Pagan, the Giants lineup is even more challenged.

On the mound, the Cards staff rated out at #18, not an impressive finish at all. However, the Giants at #28 had some of MLB’s worst-performing overall pitching. Saint Louis should be able to parlay those pitching and defensive edges to a victory in the series.

As for the offense, the Giants 6th-rated offense gives them the old “puncher’s chance” against a Cardinals offensive group that finished as MLB’s 11th-rated WAR group. But again, injuries have weakened San Fran on offense as well. Not just the loss of Pagan, but an oblique strain has made slugger Mike Morse’ ability to contribute questionable at best, sapping the Giants of some clout.

Historically, these are two of the most storied, successful teams in all of Major League Baseball, and in the National League in particular. The Cardinals have won 19 NL Pennants and 11 World Series crowns, most in NL history and 2nd only to the Yankees overall. The Giants have won 22 NL Pennants, a league record, and 7 World Series crowns.

There is star power to be had here, with the Giants led by the hitting trio of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence, and the Cardinals hitters by Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina, and Matt Carpenter.

“The Big Panda”, Pablo Sandoval, is a proven postseason clutch performer

On the mound, the Giants rotation has a true young ace in lefty Madison Bumgarner, and they also rely on unflappable veterans Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson. Yusmeiro Petit has developed into a reliable option as well. For the Cards, it’s righty Adam Wainwright as the ace, with Lance Lynn a solid #2, Carlos Martinez emerging as a strong 3rd option, and either John Lackey or Shelby Miller also likely to see work.

The bullpens of both clubs can be schizophrenic, with the Giants having changed from Sergio Romo to Santiago Casilla in the closer role, and with Cards closer Trevor Rosenthal alternating between dominant and erratic. The Cards have a tremendous arm in Pat Neshek in reserve. He may be the best reliever on either team. Both clubs have an assortment of options that run hot and cold.

The best chance for the Giants would be for Bumgarner, Peavy, and Hudson to all be at their best through the series, giving their veteran bats a chance to win it with clutch hits. For the Cards, it should be simply about playing to their full potential as an overall team.

Posey (L) and Molina (R) may be two best catchers in baseball today

Perhaps the biggest highlight of this series will be the showdown between two of the best all-around catchers in the game. Posey led the Giants to titles when he was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010 and the NL MVP in 2012. Molina, widely considered the best defensive catcher in the game, is a 6-time Gold Glover and All-Star.

The Cardinals will have the home field advantage here. While I don’t think that is necessarily a very big factor in the playoffs, I do think that in the end it will be those Saint Louis fans at Busch Stadium who are witnessing their team in a victorious pileup after a win in that ultimate Game 7 next weekend.