And you thought the Cardinals struggled out of the gate?

Well, you think the Cardinals have had a rough start to the season, check the Blue Jays out. After a trip to the American League Championship Series last year, the Blue Jays have tripped on their face out of the gate, going 5-13 and are the worst team in baseball. That could mean danger for the Cardinals who may underestimate the Blue Jays a little bit as they come to town. But the Cardinals are in no position to relax. The Cardinals may have gone 6-1 over the past week, but there was little on the offensive side of the ball to get excited about. They hit .189 with runners in scoring position, which was 28th in baseball. They’ve hit a league leading .291 with the bases empty, which really exemplifies this team’s struggles with situational hitting.

The last time the Cardinals and Blue Jays played each other was back in June of 2014 in the Rogers Centre. The Cardinals won two of three games. Those games were won by Shelby Miller and Jaime Garcia, neither of whom still play for the organization.

Game 20: Wacha v Estrada

Michael Wacha (2-1, 2.41 ERA) held the Pirates to 1 run over 6.2 innings of work in his last start to continue his quality start streak as he is now 3-for-3 to start the season. Wacha has never faced the Blue Jays before and only three Blue Jays have faced Wacha before in their careers, led by Kendrys Morales who is hitting .429 against him over 7 at bats.

Marco Estrada (0-1, 2.63 ERA) is pitching well as he has thrown 13 shutout innings over his past two starts. Estrada has been throwing the ball well, and has yet to be backed up by the Blue Jays offense which seems to really be missing Edwin Encarnacion. His last start against the Cardinals came back in April of 2014 where he allowed 3 runs over six innings. He is 0-2 with a 3.51 ERA in 33 innings of work in Busch Stadium. His biggest foe on the Cardinals has been Yadier Molina who has a .524 average with a home run and 5 RBI in 21 at bats.

Game 21: Martinez v TBD

Carlos Martinez (0-3, 4.76 ERA) has struggled for consistent focus since dominating the Cubs on Opening Night. His last time out, he allowed 5 runs over 5 innings against the Brewers as he struggled with his mechanics. There was a distinct difference in his demeanor on the mound in the innings he was locked in versus the innings he struggled. Perhaps that’s the hair and perhaps that’s just post-extension struggles, which is far more likely. Regardless, the Cardinals need him to be locked in so they can carry on with their winning ways. Martinez has made just a single appearance against the Blue Jays, throwing the final two thirds of an inning in that 2014 series against them. Six Blue Jays have faced him before in their careers, but nobody with any sustained success. Morales is 3-for-3 while Russell Martin is 2-for-5.

The Blue Jays have yet to tab a starter for Wednesday’s game, but if they stay on track, this start would go to Mat Latos (0-0, 7.20 ERA) who made his season debut with a 4 run, 5 inning performance against the Los Angeles Angels. Latos signed with the Blue Jays on a minor league deal after spending 2016 with the White Sox and the Nationals. He allowed 1 earned run over 9 innings in two starts in Triple-A this season before getting the call last week when the Jays suffered a pair of injuries in their starting rotation. Latos’ last start against the Cardinals came in 2015 where he allowed 5 runs in 6 innings and took the loss. He is also 2-4 with a 7.68 ERA in 7 starts in Busch Stadium. Molina has led the Cardinals against Latos, hitting .353 with a home run in 34 at bats against him.

Game 22: Wainwright v TBD

Adam Wainwright (1-3, 6.27 ERA) took care of business in his last start. He turned in his best start of the season, allowing 2 earned runs, walked none, and struck out nine over five innings of work. Oh, and he hit a home run and drove in four runs too. Wainwright looked to have the stuff he needed to get outs, he just needs to get more efficient at this point so he can go deeper than five innings and take some of the stress off the bullpen. Wainwright has made one start against the Blue Jays in his career. Back in 2010 he allowed 4 earned runs over four innings of work as he took the loss. Martin leads the Jays against him, Martin has hit .367 with a home run in 30 career at bats against him.

If the Jays stay on order, it will be Casey Lawrence (0-2, 7.56 ERA) taking the mound in the series finale against the Cardinals. His last outing against the Angels was his first start of the season and he allowed four earned runs over 6.1 innings pitched. Last season, Lawrence posted a 4.17 ERA over 28 starts between the Double-A and Triple-A levels before getting called up before the Jays’ fifth game of the season. If you’re keeping track at home, Lawrence has already been optioned out and called up twice since the start of the season. Since he made his debut in 2017, Lawrence has yet to face any Cardinals batters.

Who’s hot

Kolten Wong has quietly been taking advantage of the opportunity to be the Cardinals’ regular second baseman. Over the past week he has hit .333/.455/.556 with 4 runs scored and 4 runs driven in. There is also Jedd Gyorko who is hitting .429 with four extra base hits in the past week.

For the Blue Jays I’ve got to go with Kevin Pillar who his hitting .370/.393/.704 with 2 home runs over the past week. Ezequiel Carerra also gets a nod, having hit .353/.389/.647 with a homer.

Who’s not

After looking like he was on the verge of breaking out of his early season struggles, Stephen Piscotty went quiet last week, hitting .143/.280/.143 over the past week.

Jose Bautista, who settled for a one year deal with options with the Blue Jays after reportedly desiring a large multi-year deal in free agency over the winter, hasn’t found any traction this season yet. He is hitting .125/.250/.250 over the past week.

On the shelf

Jhonny Peralta went on the disabled list at the beginning of the series with the Brewers due to an upper respiratory issue. There is still no update on when he may return, though he will be eligible to come off the disabled list on April 26th. John Gant is also expected to be nearing a return to the mound, but will likely stay in Memphis once he returns.

For the Blue Jays, a bad season has definitely gotten worse. In the past week days they’ve placed J.A. Happ (elbow inflammation), Aaron Sanchez (blister), Josh Donaldson (right calf strain), and Troy Tulowitzki (hamstring) on the disabled list. All player who were expected to play a key role for the Blue Jays. And now they will likely have to wait until they have them back before they can put together any kind of sustained run.

Coming back home having left the W’s behind

The St. Louis Cardinals (3-9, 5th in the NLC) come back home after a disastrous six-game road trip that saw them go 1-5, including a sweep by the New York Yankees. They return to face the Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6, T-3rd in the NLC) who are coming off a sweep of the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.

The Cardinals were 10-9 against the Pirates last season, including 5-5 against them at Busch Stadium after sweeping them in the final series of the season.

Game 13: Lynn v. Nova

Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.23 ERA) will take the ball in tonight’s series opener against a team that has given him fits. In his last time out, Lynn allowed four earned runs over five innings of work as he struggled against the Nationals. The last time Lynn faced the Pirates was in September of 2015 when he threw five shutout innings. While there are three Pirates who have faced Lynn twenty or more times and hit better than .300 against him, Jordy Mercer has absolutely ripped him to a .389/.450/.556 slash line.

Ivan Nova (1-1, 2.25 ERA) has pitched some of the best baseball of his life since being traded to the Pirates last summer. His career ERA in a Pirates uniform is a full run and a half better than his career ERA in a Yankees uniform. His success continued in his second time out, allowing just 3 earned runs over 6 innings, but took the loss to the Reds. He has never faced the Cardinals in his career. Dexter Fowler leads all Cardinals, having gone 2-for-3 against Nova in their careers.

Game 14: Leake v. Kuhl

If you’re wondering how you back up 8 innings of one run baseball, Mike Leake (1-1, 0.60 ERA) has a good idea. He threw 7 shutout innings against the Nationals his last turn on the bump. He’ll take the mound in the second game of the series. Leake was 1-2 with a 5.82 ERA in 4 starts against the Pirates last season. Ex-Cardinal David Freese has hit .560 against Leake in 25 at bats against him to lead the Pirates.

Chad Kuhl (1-0, 2.38 ERA) has two solid starts under his belt this season, allowing just a single run over 6.1 innings against the Red Sox last week. He was 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA in 2 starts against the Cardinals last season. He allowed 2 earned runs over 5 innings in his only start in Busch Stadium. Both Matt Carpenter and Yadier Molina are 2-for-4 against him.

Game 15: Wacha v. Cole

Michael Wacha (1-1, 3.00 ERA) continued his good start, allowing 3 earned runs over 6 innings of work against the Yankees in his second start of the season, though he still took the loss. Wacha was 0-1 with a 6.38 ERA over four starts against the Pirates last season. The Pirates are led by Andrew McCutchen‘s .480 batting average against him in 25 at bats.

Gerrit Cole (1-1, 5.29 ERA) started out rough on Opening Day, but has rebounded with two straight quality starts. He allowed 2 earned runs over 6 innings his last time out to get his first win of the season in a game against the Cubs. Cole was 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 2 starts against the Cardinals last year. He has a 3.13 ERA in 5 starts at Busch Stadium in his career. Matt Carpenter leads the Cardinals with a .385 batting average and 3 home runs against Cole in 26 at bats.

Who’s hot, who’s not

I think you can easily make a case that both Stephen Piscotty and Mike Leake are hot coming into this series. Piscotty has hit .318 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI in the six games since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup the last two games of the first homestand. Leake, of course, threw seven scoreless innings his last time out.

On the cold side, I have to take Dexter Fowler. The Cardinals’ leadoff hitter is 3-for-22 over the past week with just a single extra base hit and a major contributing factor to their offensive woes to start the season.

It’s a tossup between David Freese and Andrew McMutchen for the Pirates. Freese has hit .389 along with a .522 on base percentage over the past week, but McCutchen has hit .333 with a .708 slugging percentage.

On the cold side, the Pirates have Josh Bell who is 1-for-15 over the last week, having started in 4 of the team’s six games.

On the shelf

Matt Carpenter is dealing with a finger injury that looks like it will take him out of the season opener. He is day-to-day as he deals with that. Tyler Lyons will also make what is expected to be his final rehab appearance for Memphis before being called up to help solidify the Cardinals’ bullpen.

Gregory Polanco is day-to-day with groin discomfort and has missed the last couple days. May be available off the bench to pinch hit if needed.

Ex-Cardinals Watch

2011 postseason hero David Freese signed a one year deal with Pittsburgh last season and then signed a two-year deal over the offseason to return. He wasn’t quite expected to have the role he has, but legal troubles with Jung-Ho Kang has given Freese an extended opportunity and he has responded, entering the series hitting .344/.488/.594 with 2 home runs.

Ah, there’s Pete Kozma!

The Cardinals (3-6, T-4th in NLC) are coming off their third series loss to open up the season, but managed to win a tough one against Max Scherzer in the series finale on Wednesday to avoid the sweep. Those are opposite feelings to those of the Yankees (5-4, T-2nd in ALE) who are coming off a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays after struggling to open up the year.

The title is, of course, a reference to the Washington series preview that asked where Pete Kozma was. Kozma, who provided some postseason heroics against the Nationals, made the Yankees big league roster this year after not playing in the Majors last year.

This will be the Cardinals’ first trip ever to the new Yankee Stadium and the first time they have faced off against the Yankees in the Bronx since 2003. The Yankees swept the Cardinals in that meeting. There are no players who appeared in that series still playing professional baseball in the Majors. Though it’s a fun fact that Mike Matheny and Joe Girardi both caught for the Cardinals in that series.

Game 10: Wacha vs Tanaka

Michael Wacha (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will complete the second trip through the rotation when he takes the mound on Friday night. Wacha allowed 1 run over 8 innings in his debut against the Reds. It was a big start for him as he carried the momentum from a strong spring into the season. Wacha started one game against the Yankees in 2014, allowing 3 runs over 7 innings. Four Yankees have faced Wacha before, led by Starlin Castro who has hit .455 with 2 home runs against Wacha in 22 at bats.

Masahiro Tanaka (0-1, 11.74 ERA) is making his third start of the season as the Yankees brought him back in their fifth game after he failed to make it through three innings in the season opener. He allowed 3 runs over 5 innings against the Orioles in his last start. Tanaka is 20-7 with a 3.31 ERA in 39 starts at Yankee Stadium. No Cardinals batters have faced Tanaka.

Game 11: Martinez vs Sabathia

Carlos Martinez (0-1, 3.65 ERA) has had an up and down start to the season, dominating the Cubs on opening night before getting tagged for five earned runs over five innings by the Reds. Martinez pitched two scoreless innings of relief when they faced the Yankees in 2014. Five Yankees players have faced Martinez before, hitting a collective .227 against him.

CC Sabathia (1-0, 1.64 ERA) has kept his opponents in check so far this season as the Yankees have won both of his games. He allowed two earned runs over six innings of work in his last start against the Orioles. Sabathia is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA in 3 starts against the Cardinals, the last coming in 2008 where he threw a three-hit complete game shutout while pitching for the Brewers. He is 49-31 with a 3.70 ERA in 108 career starts in Yankee Stadium. Two Cardinals players have faced Sabathia before, led by Dexter Fowler who is 2-for-5 against him.

Game 12: Wainwright vs TBD

Adam Wainwright (0-2, 7.00 ERA) allowed 5 earned runs on 11 hits over four innings in his last start against the Nationals as he was unable to dance his way out of trouble like he did against the Cubs. Wainwright has never faced the Yankees before though six Yankees have faced Wainwright before, hitting a collective .205 against him. Starlin Castro has hit .256 against him. Former teammate Matt Holliday is 0-for-4 against Wainwright.

The Yankees have not yet confirmed who will be starting opposite Wainwright, but it would be Michael Pineda‘s turn in the rotation. Pineda allowed just one run on two hits over 7.2 innings in his last start against the Rays. Pineda has never faced the Cardinals and is 13-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 38 starts in Yankee Stadium. Dexter Fowler and Jhonny Peralta have both faced Pineda before, both are 1-for-3 against him. Fowler hit a double while Peralta hit a home run.

Who’s hot, who’s not

For the Cardinals it is definitely Aledmys Diaz who is hot. He played two of the games over the weekend against the Nationals and hit three home runs. He has hit .273/.273/.682 with 3 home runs and 5 RBI over the last week. Stephen Piscotty gets an honorable mention, mainly on the strength of his 5 RBI game on Wednesday afternoon. For the Yankees, it’s Aaron Judge. In the last week, Judge is batting .429/.529/1.071 (not a typo, a slugging percentage over 1.000) with 3 home runs and 6 RBI.

The Cardinals’ bullpen gets the cold nod. If it wasn’t for Matthew Bowman, the stats on the bullpen would be awful. It’s just ugly. Bowman has a 0.50 WHIP in a team high 5 appearances. The second lowest WHIP in the bullpen is Miguel Socolovich‘s 1.60, which is not very good. Brett Cecil, Kevin Siegrist, and Jonathan Broxton all have allowed greater than two and a half baserunners per inning on average.

For the Yankees its hard to find a clear cut cold option. I’d have to go with Austin Romine who is 1-for-9 since being called up to take over when regular catcher Gary Sanchez hit the disabled list this week.

On the shelf

Tyler Lyons threw six innings of two-hit shutout baseball in a rehab start against the Colorado Sky Sox on Wednesday. The club may begin to look at calling him up in the coming days as their bullpen has had some struggles.

The Yankees are without two starting position players as Didi Gregorius (right shoulder strain) and Gary Sanchez (right biceps strain) are on the DL and not expected to return until May.

Ex-Cardinals Watch

With the Yankees are former Cardinals players Matt Holliday and Pete Kozma. Holliday is currently hitting .276/.462/.448 with a home run and leads all of baseball with 10 walks. Kozma is 0-for-2 with a walk.

Where’s Pete Kozma when you need him?

The Cardinals (2-4, 4th in NLC) head to Washington (3-3, T-2nd in NLE) for their first road series of the season. They’re looking to gain some traction as the starting pitching has typically been strong, but the offense has been lacking. Seemingly plenty of opportunities, just failure to convert, which has been the typical story in St. Louis for awhile now.

The Nationals played a rare three game home series to open up the season before heading on the road for three games and then return home. They come into the series having lost their three game series against the Phillies.

Game 7: Wainwright v. Roark

Adam Wainwright will be looking to get the Cardinals’ season pointed in the right direction as he takes the mound for his second start. Wainwright allowed 2 earned runs over 5 innings in a very mixed start against the Cubs. Wainwright was 1-0 against the Nationals last season, allowing 4 earned over 7 innings of work. He has made six regular season starts in Nationals Park and is 4-2 with a 3.55 ERA.

On the other side, Tanner Roark will be making his second start of the season. He allowed 2 earned runs over 6 innings of work and picked up the win in his season debut against the Marlins. The last start he made against the Cardinals was in 2013 where he allowed 4 earned runs in 5 innings of work and took the loss. He is 22-13 and has a 2.79 ERA in 274 innings of work in Nationals Park.

Game 8: Lynn v Gonzalez

You can call it a successful return to the mound for Lance Lynn who allowed 2 earned runs over 5.1 innings of work in his season debut against the Cubs, especially against a team that has given him fits in the past. He last pitched against the Nationals in 2015, allowing 1 earned run over 6.1 innings of work. He’s made two starts in Nationals Park in his career and has a 3.86 ERA.

A rain delay was not enough to derail Gio Gonzalez‘s season debut as he threw six shutout innings against the Marlins. He made one start against the Cardinals last year and was blown out to the tune of 6 runs over 4.2 innings of work. He has made 74 starts in Nationals Park in his career and is 33-20 with a 3.24 ERA.

Game 9: Leake v Scherzer

Lost in a game where the offense didn’t show up, Mike Leake was downright dominant in his debut against the Reds, allowing 1 earned run on 6 hits and 1 walk over 8 innings of work. He was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in 2 starts against the Nationals last season. He is 1-6 with  3.75 ERA in 6 starts in Nationals Park in his career.

St. Louis native Max Schezer allowed 2 earned runs in 6.2 innings of work in his season debut against the Phillies. He was 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in 2 starts against the Cardinals last season. He is 13-10 with a 3.01 ERA in 31 starts in Nationals Park for his career.

Who’s hot, who’s not

Aledmys Diaz hit two home runs on Saturday afternoon and went 1-for-4 on Sunday to put his batting average on the season at .296, which leads the team. And for the Nationals, Daniel Murphy went 1-for-4 on Sunday which moved his batting average to .480.

Matt Carpenter was going to be my guy here, but getting on base twice on Sunday bumped him, instead I’m going with Jhonny Peralta. Peralta is 2-for-11 on the season and is hitting .182. He, along with Diaz, are the only two Cardinals who have not taken a walk yet this season, but Peralta has 6 strikeouts in those 11 ABs.

And for the Nationals, I’m going with their bullpen. It features Blake Treinen, Enny Romero, Oliver Perez, Sammy Solis, and Shawn Kelley, all of whom have ERAs over 8.

On the shelf

Trevor Rosenthal is expected to be activated by the Cardinals for this series, Sam Tuivailala was sent to catch up with the Memphis Redbirds after Sunday’s game. Tyler Lyons is scheduled to make his second rehab start on Wednesday for Memphis. Stephen Piscotty was out of the lineup over the weekend with knee soreness, but is expected to be back in the lineup this week.

For the Nationals, shortstop Trea Turner is day-to-day with a hamstring problem. He is expected to miss 2-3 days, which would put him returning in the middle of their series against the Cardinals.

How do you hate a Brandon Phillips-less Reds team?

The Cincinnati Reds (2-1, T-1st in NL Central) come to town fresh off a series victory against the Philadelphia Phillies. On the downside for them, that loss was their season opener. The Reds aren’t expecting much this season with a very young team, but as with any in division rival, can cause problems because of how often the teams play.

The Cardinals (1-2, 3rd in NL Central) lost their opening series against the Cubs after winning Opening Day. The team received good starting pitching, but struggled to convert with runners in scoring position, a problem the team has had the last few years in general.

Game 4: Leake v Garrett

Mike Leake will make his season debut for the Cardinals against his former team, he spent five and a half seasons with the Reds before being traded and then signing a big five year deal with the Cardinals before the 2016 season. Last year Leake’s results were questionable, but all his fielding independent metrics were very good. The hope is that the defense will improve behind him, which will allow him to improve.

Leake posted a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings this spring for the Cardinals. He has a 4.05 ERA in 19 starts in Busch Stadium. He went 0-2 and posted a 7.25 ERA in four starts against the Reds last season.

Amir Garrett, the Reds’ #2 prospect according to MLB.com and a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball, will take the ball to make his Major League debut in the season opener. He posted a 2.55 ERA over 145 innings last year between Triple-A and Double-A. He had a 4.22 ERA over a team high 21 innings in spring training for the Reds. The left hander has a mid-90 mph fastball and two other off pitches he can use to produce outs.

Game 5: Wacha v Arroyo

Michael Wacha will get the first opportunity to put his strong spring results to the test in the second game of the series. Wacha posted a 2.42 ERA over 26 innings this spring as he is looking to re-establish himself as a key part of the Cardinals’ rotation after struggling through last season and suffering a recurrence of his stress injury. He is 16-8 with a 3.68 ERA in 41 starts and 7 relief appearances in Busch Stadium for his career. He was 1-0 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts and a relief appearance last year.

Bronson Arroyo will be making his first big league start since July 15, 2014 where he went 5 innings and allowed just 1 earned run against the Dodgers before having Tommy John surgery. He would miss the 2015 season before signing with the Nationals for 2016. He threw 9 minor league innings before elbow soreness shut him down again. After another procedure in August, he was back in camp this spring with the Reds. He had a 4.70 ERA over 8 innings for the Reds this spring. He is 3-9 with a 5.33 ERA in 17 starts in Busch Stadium for his career.

Game 6: Martinez v Feldman

In his season debut, Carlos Martinez proved the hype was real as he shut down the Cubs over 7.1 innings. He struck out 10 and walked none. He was 2-0 with 3.46 ERA in 2 starts against the Reds last season. He is 15-13 with a 3.63 ERA in 37 starts and 36 relief appearances in Busch Stadium.

Scott Feldman didn’t even make it through 5 innings in the Reds’ season opener, allowing 3 earned runs in 4.2 innings of work. After a leadoff home run and all three runs scoring in the first two innings, he did settle in. Feldman has started just once against the Cardinals in his career, allowing 5 runs in 5.1 innings of work in 2013 while pitching for the Cubs. So he is 0-1 with an 8.44 ERA in 1 start at Busch Stadium for his career.

Who’s hot, who’s not

Yadier Molina went 3-for-9 with 3 walks against the Cubs. Meanwhile Randal Grichuk put together a great series, going 3-for-12 with a home run and 4 RBI with every one of those three hits driving in a run. *cough* clean-up hitter *cough*

Jedd Gyorko, meanwhile, has appeared in 2 games for the Cardinals so far this season and is 0-for-6 with 3 strikeouts. Probably don’t want to miss Brett Cecil‘s 36.00 ERA, allowing 4 runs over an inning of work.

I’m also going to give the hot nod to the entire Reds bullpen. They’ve had two quick exits by starting pitchers already this year and have had to pitch 12.1 innings, allowing just one run on 7 hits.

Cold on the Reds is right fielder Scott Schebler who is 1-for-9 so far this season. Joey Votto is right there too at 2-for-11 with a home run and no walks.

On the shelf

Trevor Rosenthal threw a bullpen session yesterday and may be back on April 9th, when he is expected to be eligible to come off the DL. It seems Meanwhile, Tyler Lyons should be beginning a Triple-A rehab assignment any day now.

The Reds are missing catcher Devin Mesoraco who is on rehab assignment in Double-A. Starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani, who in 20 starts last year was the Reds’ best starting pitcher, is likely out for the year with a UCL sprain.

The World Series Champs come to town

For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs will open up a season as the defending World Series champions. For the first time in Mike Matheny‘s tenure as manager of the Cardinals, they will open the season at home.

The Cardinals went 86-76 last year and finished 17.5 games behind their rival Cubs. After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010, they added Dexter Fowler and Brett Cecil while securing their future in Carlos Martinez and locking up Yadier Molina who may now finish his career having worn only a Cardinals’ uniform.

The Cubs are not quite the same team that went 103-59 and won the World Series last year. The aforementioned Fowler left in free agency and joined the Cardinals. Also gone is Aroldis Chapman who played such a crucial part of the Cubs’ playoff run last season. In their place the Cubs have brought in former Cardinal Jon Jay and acquired Wade Davis from the Royals, but regardless, they’ve had a lot of talent walk out the door.

Time will tell just how much of a step back they’ll take and how the division will shape up, but the last team that had back-to-back 100-win seasons was the 2004-2005 Cardinals. Since then, there have been just six 100-win seasons, with teams averaging 90 wins the next season.

Game 1: Martinez v. Lester

Carlos Martinez, fresh off signing a 5 year extension with the Cardinals this winter, will make his first Opening Day for the Cardinals, facing off against Jon Lester. Martinez had a 1.38 ERA this spring over 13 innings for the Cardinals this spring, that book ended a 1.13 ERA over 8 innings for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. He was 1-3 with a 4.80 ERA in 5 starts against the Cubs last season. He has a 3.78 ERA over 36 starts and another 36 relief appearances in Busch Stadium in his career.

Opposite him will be Jon Lester making his sixth career Opening Day start and second for the Cubs. He has a 4.08 ERA on Opening Day. Lester made three starts for the Cubs this spring, posting a 5.73 ERA over 11 innings of work. At 33 years old, he is coming off a career year that saw him post a 2.44 ERA and win 19 games. He was 2-0 with a 0.87 ERA in 3 starts against the Cardinals last season. He has a 0.82 ERA in 3 starts in Busch Stadium in his career.

Game 2: Wainwright v. Arrieta

Perhaps coming in in the exact opposite situation of Martinez is the man he is attempting to supplant as the Cardinals’ ace, Adam Wainwright. Wainwright will take the ball in game two coming off the worst season of his career, going 13-9 with a 4.62 ERA last year. That didn’t correct itself this spring either as he posted a 7.78 ERA over about 20 innings of work. Wainwright was 1-1 with a 7.98 ERA in three starts against the Cubs last year. He has a 2.79 ERA over 129 career starts in the current Busch Stadium.

After his Cy Young campaign in 2015, Jake Arrieta looked a bit more human last year, but only a little bit. He was 18-8 with a 3.10 ERA for the Cubs last season. This spring he had a 5.79 ERA over 14 innings. He was 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA over 4 starts against the Cardinals last season. He is 1-1 with a 4.22 ERA in 4 starts in Busch Stadium.

Game 3: Lynn v. Lackey

Before this post went live this paragraph joked that the starter of the third game would be named Michael, either Leake, Wacha or Lynn. Since Lynn is Michael Lance Lynn. No really, he is. Google it.

Lynn will be returning to a big league mound for the first official time since Tommy John surgery after the 2015 season. He posted a 1.20 ERA over 15 innings this spring with a 0.93 WHIP. He is 6-6 with a 4.16 ERA in 14 starts against the Cubs in his career. Lynn is 34-17 with a 2.82 ERA over 62 starts and 10 relief appearances in Busch Stadium.

On the other end is former Cardinal John Lackey. He was 11-8 with a 3.35 ERA for the Cubs last season. He too struggled in spring training, posting a 6.39 ERA in almost 13 innings. He was 1-1 with a 2.03 ERA over 4 starts against the Cardinals last year. He is 12-4 with a 2.02 ERA over 24 career starts in Busch Stadium.

Who’s hot, who’s not

Cubs’ infielder Ian Happ finished with the fifth highest batting average in spring training this year, hitting .411/.469/.804 with 5 home runs, but he will start the season in the minors.

The Cardinals’ Jose Martinez, or ‘lil Tsunami as I’m calling him, was 8th, having hit .380/.508/.740 with 4 home runs, and made the team in the final bench spot as likely the fourth outfielder.

On the shelf

There will be four Cardinals on the MLB Disabled List to open up the season, but Trevor Rosenthal is the highest profile guy for the Cardinals there. We learned on Thursday afternoon that he would start the season on the DL after issues with his lat have returned. Sam Tuivailala was called up to take his place.

Brian Duensing is the only Cubs player on the DL to open up the season. He’s had back spasm issues.