Cardinals call up Pham, place Piscotty on DL

The St. Louis Cardinals announced today that they have placed RF Stephen Piscotty on the 10 day disabled list and called up OF Tommy Pham from Memphis. Piscotty was lifted early at the end of the 2nd inning of last night’s game after running out a ground ball and appearing to tweak his hamstring.

We’re still waiting for more information, but Piscotty seemed to indicate to the media last night that he was optimistic that it wasn’t too severe. However, he may still be day-to-day for an indeterminate amount of time right now, even with a minor spasm. This is the advantage of the shorter disabled list. Rather than Piscotty staying active day-to-day and wasting a roster spot. It also keeps him from pushing it to return sooner than he would if he were on the active roster.

The Cardinals will recall Tommy Pham who was hitting .283/.371/.500 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI in 25 games for Memphis this season. He has mostly played right field so far this season.

Pham has proven himself capable of putting together quality stretches in the Majors in the past. After he was recalled on August 27, 2015 to the end of the season, Pham hit .303/.379/.532 with 4 home runs over 39 games with the Cardinals. And then last summer in the month that followed the All STar Break, he hit .263/.359/.550 with 6 home runs in 28 games. Unfortunately he stumbled hard after that, striking out 23 times in 39 plate appearances to finish out the year.

The Cardinals could really use Pham to come up hot and put together one of those stretches for them.

Also pointed out by Wes Keene on Twitter. The Cardinals’ press release was worded as “outfielder Stephen Piscotty (right hamstring strain) have been placed” (emphasis added) indicating that at least the media relations department was prepared for the Cardinals to place two players on the DL this morning.

That other player was Dexter Fowler who left after the third inning with a shoulder injury. The Post-Dispatch is reporting this afternoon that the club hasn’t yet confirmed Dexter Fowler’s diagnosis though the club fears it may be more severe than Piscotty’s.

The club will also likely wait until they know what roster move they will make to correspond to Fowler’s DL trip before making that official.

Five things about the Brewers Series

The Brewers came to town and busted the Cardinals’ win-loss pattern by taking two of the three games of the series. The Cardinals head to Atlanta 13-14 after an 8 game home stand where they went 4-4. It has to be a disappointment for a club that was coming back to town having won six of the previous seven games and looking to put a run together. Each of their four losses were winnable, losing three of the games by one run and another by two. Two of those losses came in extra innings.

The Cardinals now head to Atlanta for three games and then Miami for three games, before returning to St. Louis to face the Cubs again. They are currently 2.5 games behind the Cubs and need to play well over the next week to keep within striking distance. It was during the first two months of the season that the Cubs put the pedal down and walked away with the division last season. The Cardinals can’t afford to let that happen again.

Here are my five things.

Wong just continues to rake

Last night Kolten Wong had his first three hit game of the season and flashed all his tools. He stole a base, bunted for a hit, and flashed the glove. His slash line so far this season is up to .303/.398/.500.

Since the Cardinals committed to Wong at second base after they came home from being swept in New York, Wong has hit .388/.474/.653 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, and a home run. He has 9 RBI to go along with 9 runs scored.

FOX Sports Midwest did a pregame bit with Wong and Mike Matheny about their relationship and how it’s improved over the last little bit, which has potentially provided Kolten more confidence to play aggressively and we’re now seeing it. In his fourth at bat last night he got out, but as my UCB Podcast co-host Kevin Reynolds put it, he was practically drooling at the plate.

His defense needs to be cleaned up. He was ripped pretty hard following an error in the 10th inning of Monday night’s game, but he had driven in the tying run in the bottom of the 8th. Without him they would have lost in 9 instead of 10 innings. But regardless, he’s put up a -3.6 UZR in 203 defensive innings at second base so far this season. He was a +7.1 UZR in 635 defensive innings last season, so it’s important to remember that his defensive play so far this season is uncharacteristic.

Injury strikes

It may not have been Star Wars Night, but that Star Wars “May the Fourth be with you” mojo was in full effect as both Stephen Piscotty and Dexter Fowler exited last night’s game early. Piscotty exited the game with an apparent hamstring injury while running out a ground ball in the bottom of the second. Fowler would exit after the third inning.

It forced some interesting defensive alignment as Aledmys Diaz made his professional debut in left field. It went uneventfully for him. No awkward dives to be found.

It’s trouble for the Cardinals if these guys are out for any real length of time. Fowler had just recently turned the corner and was beginning to hit and while Piscotty was still searching, he is expected to be a big part of this club’s offensive attack. Now it seems like the organization will be turning to Tommy Pham, who was lifted from tonight’s game in Memphis and is likely on his way to Atlanta to catch up with the team while they figure out what they need to do.

Pham is hitting .283 with 4 home runs and 19 RBI in 25 games for Memphis so far this season. He’s also had stretches where he’s done stuff like that in the Majors as well, like in September 2015 and over the summer of 2016. However he’s also gone through stretches where he’s been unable to put the ball in play on a regular basis.

But with his future cloudy, this may be the opportunity that Pham has been waiting for to prove he can stick and stay healthy. Both have been easier said than done for the 29 year old outfielder.

The Cardinals are also sending Jhonny Peralta out on a rehab assignment to Palm Beach. Matheny says he will play third base and shortstop to help him get his at bats in. But there seems to also be some undercurrent that he could see time in left field, a position he did play a little bit in his final season with the Tigers.

Wain-still-not-wright

He’ll reinvent his game when the hitters tell him it’s time. Well, it might be time. Once again, Adam Wainwright put together a decent start… except for that one inning. His last time out it was a four run spot in the fifth inning against Toronto. Tonight it was a three run spot in the third as he gave back the three runs the Cardinals clawed out in the bottom of the second.

Two starts ago against these same Brewers he gave us his best start of the season, allowing just 2 earned runs over 5 innings of work with no walks and nine strikeouts. But the Brewers were ready for him this time. In five innings last night, Wainwright allowed four runs on 10 hits and three walks.

Through six starts he has a 6.30 ERA, which is a slight improvement over the 6.68 ERA he had after six starts last year. But he was clearly showing signs of going in the right direction last year. This year he is battling for each and every out in every inning. That’s just not a recipe for success.

Worries about Bowman?

Early this season Matthew Bowman was the unhittable man out in the bullpen, and about the only guy out there capable of getting consistent outs. That led to a lot of work, but Mike Matheny managed to keep him from working back-to-back days on a regular basis. He actually only did that twice, and the first time it was just for one batter and he threw three pitches and got the out.

But now Bowman has had some struggles lately. His once perfect ERA is now up to 3.95 as he has allowed six earned runs in his past four appearances. It’s the first time he’s allowed runs in three out of any four appearances in his big league career. And just the third time he’s allowed runs in back-to-back appearances as well.

Whether being used too much (14 appearances, 12.1 innings in April) or just rust tonight (hasn’t pitched in four days), it’s something to keep an eye on.

Rain, rain, go away!

The rain delayed Wednesday night’s game to give the Cardinals yet another doubleheader. This makes four Cardinals games that have been cancelled by rain this season. I can’t remember another season having so many games impacted by rain, especially in this short a span of time. There’s been lots of rain and flooding in eastern Missouri, so there are more important problems than baseball, but I think everyone can agree that they could use a break from the rain in St. Louis.

Bonus: Second time is a charm

I pointed this out on Twitter earlier and it might have made a larger piece if Fowler hadn’t have gotten hurt. But after his two RBI triple in the second inning, Dexter Fowler increased his batting average in his second AB of a game to .400 with an .860 slugging percentage. He is down to .160 in his first at bat of a game.

Column: What does a Lance Lynn extension look like and should the Cardinals do it?

In recent weeks I’ve seen questions both in Derrick Goold’s weekly chat and Jenifer Langosch’s inbox feature about whether the Cardinals should entertain Lance Lynn’s interest in discussing an extension that would keep him in St. Louis beyond the 2017 season. In Goold’s chat, it was framed as whether, with all the young arms coming through the system, should they keep him? It’s a question that will likely consume John Mozeliak’s mind this summer as he considers how far he’s willing to go to bring Lynn back to St. Louis.

Derrick’s answer to that question was a resounding yes, because he can provide “known quantity innings.” His point primarily being that Lynn can go out there and throw 210 good innings in 2018 while you will most likely need an assortment of those young pitchers to fill those innings without him. There is a great deal of value in that, not just in having Lynn throw 200+ good innings, but being able to use those good young arms in other roles.

I agree with that and we’ll get into the why and what that looks like shortly. But I think Lynn is one of those players that’s easy to carry a biased opinion around on because of what you think about him from the start. Early in his career he was an emotional guy that was at risk of falling apart if things didn’t go his way. But more recently, he has matured into one of the best pitchers in the league.

The stats bear this out, since 2014, among starting pitchers who have thrown at least 400 innings, Lynn has been the 11th best pitcher in baseball by ERA+. He is tied right there with Madison Bumgarner.

Since he joined the Cardinals’ rotation in 2012, Lynn has 63 wins, good for 22nd most in baseball. Despite your opinions on pitcher wins, they are still a good thing to get. And that’s number is even with a missed season. Give him another 15 wins and Lynn is 6th. You give him 20 and he’s 2nd.

And through five starts this season, Lynn has a 2.45 ERA over 29.1 innings pitched along with a 1.09 WHIP. That’s his best start since 2012, his first full year in the rotation.

I feel like the fact he has come back as strong as ever following Tommy John is equal parts impressive and surprising. Even though he’s a few months further out than Adam Wainwright was in 2012, I still cringe when thinking about Wainwright’s start to that season. I cringe the same way thinking about Alex Reyes’ eventual return in 2018.

But I find it interesting that Lynn is even willing to talk extension with the Cardinals.

Before the 2015 season when he signed his current 3 year, $22 million deal, it seemed like a signal that he was going to go to free agency. At that point he had three arbitration years remaining and the deal only bought out those years. He left security and some guaranteed money on the table by not giving them any free agency years. Lynn was going to be 30 years old when he hit free agency and it was going to be one of his only chances to cash in with a big deal.

After Stephen Piscotty’s extension was announced, Lynn was asked about his contract situation. He said he hoped that the Cardinals would engage him in talks over the summer once he’s had a chance to prove himself healthy. It seemed like a change of heart. But perhaps not completely since free agent years when they start next year cost much more than free agent years when they start three years down the road.

In my opinion, Lynn has the numbers to be regarded as one of the top-15 pitchers in baseball. If he puts together a solid 2017 season and continues that, it should bring big money in a free agent period that sees himself and Jake Arrieta as the two main pitching targets.

To get an idea, we need to look at recent deals. Unfortunately, we have to go back to the 2015-16 offseason to find any kind of true comparisons because there just wasn’t anyone remotely close to Lynn’s age and abilities in last year’s free agency pool.

Jordan Zimmermann signed a 5 year, $110 million deal with the Tigers coming off a year where he went 13-10 with a 3.66 ERA and threw 202 innings with a 108 ERA+. At 29 years old, he was three years away from being a 19 game winner and just a season removed from a career year.

Johnny Cueto signed a 6 year, $130 million deal with the Giants coming off a year where he went 11-13 with a 3.44 ERA and threw 212 innings with a 118 ERA+. At 29, he was a year removed from a season he won 20 games and threw 244 innings.

Zack Greinke, the other comparison I’m bringing in, signed the mother of all pitching deals, scoring a 6 year, $206.5 million deal with the Diamondbacks coming off an unfathomably good 2015 season where he went 19-3 with a 1.66 ERA and threw 223 innings with a league leading 222 ERA+.

Given the start we’ve gotten out of Lynn, I think it’s fair to consider that he will put up something on par with his best seasons. Let’s use an average of the 2014-15 seasons. That puts Lynn at 14-10 with a 2.87 ERA and throwing 190 innings at a 131 ERA+.

That’s better than Zimmermann. That’s better than Cueto. That’s on par with what Carlos Martinez has done the past two seasons and we’re ready to annoint him the Cardinals’ ace.

So I think something north of what Zimmermann and Cueto got is a good target for what he is likely to get, especially given that it’s been a couple years, the 2015-16 offseason was littered with quality pitcher and the 2016-17 offseason was not. I think 5 years, $125 million or 6 years, $140 million is a good market target for what Lynn should expect to be able to get on the open market.

Knowing that, should this be an investment that the Cardinals make? In my opinion, they can’t afford to let him walk.

Yes, it’s true the Cardinals have plenty of well regarded pitching prospects in their minor league system right now. Luke Weaver, Jack Flaherty, Austin Gomber, Sandy Alcantara, and I’m sure more whose names I don’t have on the top of my head. Even Reyes will be back at some point next year, but the rotation is in a fragile position.

Lynn is a free agent after 2017, Wainwright is a free agent after 2018, Michael Wacha is a free agent after 2019, Mike Leake could be a free agent after 2020, and Martinez could be after 2021. It won’t happen, but the Cardinals could turnover their entire rotation in five years. That’s a big ask of any organization’s minor league system.

Consider that if you let Lynn walk and Wainwright continues to struggle into 2018, how do you fill those innings? Let’s consider that maybe Wacha can’t escape his recurring stress injury. That’s three starting pitchers the Cardinals would need to produce in three seasons.

Obviously you can pencil Alex Reyes into one of those spots eventually, but I think it’s premature to expect him to be ready to contribute in the big league rotation in 2018. Wainwright wasn’t ready in 13 months. Marco Gonzales is just about 13 months out now and is getting ready to return to the mound. And he’s more of a crafty lefty than a 100 mph power pitcher like Reyes.

So the question of who fills Lynn’s shoes is very much open next season. And you could bet on depth, but with the questions coming up going forward, I think you commit to Lynn and Martinez to anchor this Cardinals’ rotation long-term.

I know many who would argue that they should go to free agency with Lynn and pursue Arrieta instead. But once you get to free agency, there’s no guarantee you can get a deal done and you might end up with neither of them. And given Mozeliak’s history in free agency, that’s a possibility.

If you can get a deal done with Lynn before the season is over, I think you do it. How does the old saying go? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?

Lynn has proven himself to be a very capable pitcher and I imagine that every team in baseball would like to have him in their rotation. So lock him up this summer and move on filling your team’s other needs. Like third base, even though Jedd Gyorko is playing out of his mind right now.

Cardinals recall Tuivailala, place Lyons back on DL

The St. Louis Cardinals have placed LHP Tyler Lyons on the 10 day disabled list for a right intercostal strain. They have called up RHP Sam Tuivailala to take his place in the bullpen.

Lyons started the season on the disabled list as he worked towards returning from offseason knee surgery. He returned on April 20th and made two appearances, throwing 3 innings and allowing 1 earned run. His latest outing, last night saw him pitch a scoreless 7th inning right before the Cardinals launched a comeback to force the game into extra innings.

Three innings in two weeks is apparently enough as he will now hit the DL again with the muscle strain.

In his place, the Cardinals have recalled Tuivailala who most recently was up in the big leagues as the 26th man for the team’s doubleheader against the Blue Jays but was unused. He started the season on the big league roster due to the injury to Trevor Rosenthal. He has made three appearances and allowed 1 earned run over 3 innings pitched.

Tuivailala has made 7 appearances for the Memphis Redbirds so far this season and has yet to allow a run in 8.1 innings of work.

Five things about the Reds Series

Thanks to some rain, the St. Louis Cardinals had a brief two game series at home against the Cincinnati Reds, splitting the series. The Cardinals now welcome the Milwaukee Brewers for another four game series. The Cardinals enter that series in second place in the NL Central, a game behind the Chicago Cubs.

Through 24 games, they are 12-12 and a game out of first place. Last year after 24 games, they were 12-12 and six games out of first place. So already an improvement, I guess.

Here’s my five things.

How about Gyorko?

While I may disagree with Mike Matheny’s decision to move Jedd Gyorko to the fourth spot in the order, you can’t disagree with Gyorko’s results at the plate so far this year. He went 4-for-8 in the series with a home run. At this point in the year, Gyorko has the 8th most WAR among position players.

Gyorko has four home runs on the year and has yet to hit anything more than a solo shot. Over the past year and change as a Cardinal, he has hit 34 home runs driven in just 33 base runners (RBI minus himself). If he wants to stick at cleanup, he’s going to have to figure that out.

Molina is still the man

Don’t nap on the basepaths or Yadier Molina will catch you. Just ask Jurickson Profar. And now Eugenio Suarez too. An explanation doesn’t do it justice, you have to see it to believe it.

Starting pitching continues to excel

Lance Lynn may not have been pleased that he lasted only six innings and got into a jam, but the starting pitching continued to be solid against the Reds. Lynn allowed one earned run over 6 innings and Mike Leake did the same. It continues a good run to open up the season for the best starting rotation in baseball.

With his six innings, Lynn lowered his ERA to 2.45 and continued his best start since his first full season in the rotation back in 2012.

And while Leake’s ERA rose to 1.35, it continues to be the league best mark.

“Bat” Adams: Pinch hitter

Matt Adams pinch hit twice in this series and hit a sacrifice fly in his first appearance and then singled in his second. He excelled in that role last year for the Cardinals, going 12-for-37 with 3 home runs and 13 RBI, and it would be beneficial for everyone if he was on the verge of figuring it out again.

Adams has 4 hits in his last four at bats, a pair of doubles, and three RBI. He’s hit .500 over the Cardinals’ last 10 games.

The pattern continues

With a win in the series opener and a loss in the second game of the series, the Cardinals continued their three win, one loss pattern. Now they’ll put that to the test tonight against the Brewers.

Five things about the Blue Jays Series

The Cardinals wrapped up their series against the Blue Jays last night, closing it out with a pair of wins in a doubleheader. The Cardinals are now 11-11 this year, on pace to go 81-81, just a little off my 92 win prediction for the season. They find themselves in third place in the NL Central just 1.5 games behind the Cubs. After 22 games last year, the Cardinals were 12-10 and 4.5 games behind the Cubs.

Here are some of my thoughts on the series.

Offense is good, but…

The Cardinals scored 19 runs against the Blue Jays in their three game series, going off for 14 of those in yesterday’s double header. When looking at the numbers, it’s easier to talk about players who didn’t hit well over the series. Of the most troubling may be the Cardinals’ 2-3-4 hitters struggling at the plate in a series where the rest of the offense was going off. Aledmys Diaz hit .091, Matt Carpenter hit .250, and Stephen Piscotty hit .222.

Notably, Greg Garcia hit .800 in the series, and he along with Dexter Fowler, Matt Adams, and Yadier Molina got on base in at least 50% of their at bats.

But it’s worth remembering that the Blue Jays have the worst record in baseball.

… The defense isn’t

The Cardinals committed four errors in Tuesday night’s game against the Blue Jays and somehow, amazingly they were still in it until the end. They had two more errors in the first game on Thursday. And as much of a farce as official scorekeeping is in Major League Baseball today, if you’re getting tagged with errors at home, you know you’re screwing up.

At the end of Tuesday’s game, the same old mistake bit them.

In extra innings, Aledmys Diaz fielded a ball and hurried the throw and threw it away. We can talk about whether Jose Martinez should have come off the bag to ensure he caught it (he should have) or whether Matt Carpenter or Matt Adams would have gotten it (I bet at least Adams would have), but this is the same kind of mistake that Diaz was making early last year. When he gets in a hurry, he makes mistakes. He has to learn to keep his head on his shoulders in those situations.

It really makes you wonder just how good the Cardinals would have been last year and could be this year if they can figure out how to not make the little mistakes.

Carpenter back at third base

Matt Carpenter started at third base in the second game of yesterday’s double header, which I honestly didn’t realize until way too late in the game. Matt Adams started at first base and as most of Mike Matheny‘s most bemoaned lineup choices, ended up paying off as Adams went 3-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs. As soon as the Blue Jays went to the left handed reliever though, Matheny went for Jedd Gyorko and moved Carpenter back to first.

How this looks going forward will be interesting, especially considering how hot of a bat Gyorko has started the season swinging. Defensive metrics love him at third base too. This is about the time of year that Adams got hot last year too. In late April, early May he was probably the most dangerous hitter in the Cardinals’ lineup. Carpenter may have hit a walk off grand slam in yesterday afternoon’s game, but as I mentioned earlier, he’s still not hitting quite as well as he should. And what should that mean if both Gyorko and Adams were hot at the same time?

Just when you thought Wainwright was getting right

While I tempered my excitement with the fact that Adam Wainwright was pitching against the team with the worst record in baseball, I’ll admit that it was nice to see him pitching well over the first four innings. He’s having to work as hard as ever to get outs, but he was actually getting outs. That is, until the Blue Jays hung four runs on him in the fifth inning. He did come back out in the sixth and shut down the Jays, but that one inning was his only blemish as he threw pitches in the seventh inning for the first time this season.

He threw 10 or fewer pitches in two of the six full innings he threw, something he had done only once before this year in 18 full innings. It’s a positive sign for perhaps the most lost pitcher in the rotation.

Bullpen doing work

Matthew Bowman might have allowed his first two runs since last September, but he’s still one of the Cardinals’ three best relievers over the past two weeks, joining Trevor Rosenthal and Brett Cecil.

Overall through the Blue Jays series they were strong, throwing 12.2 innings over the three games and allowing just three earned runs. The defense didn’t help them out as they were tagged for a pair of unearned runs, but their 0.95 WHIP over the course of the series was very good.

Rosenthal was throwing fire last night too. BrooksBaseball had two of his twelve pitches clocked at over 102 mph. I can’t say I’ve seen that kind of velocity out of him in a long time.

Bonus: Flipping the script

So over the first 11 games of the season, the Cardinals’ results looked like this:

W-L-L-L-W-L-L-L-W-L-L-L

At that point, they came home to play the Pirates and literally flipped the script and since their results have looked like this:

W-W-W-L-W-W-W-L-W-W

I prefer the second.

Cardinals outright OF Anthony Garcia

The St. Louis Cardinals outrighted outfielder Anthony Garcia off the team’s 40 man roster on Monday.

Garcia, 25, was first put on the 40 man roster following the 2015 season when he hit .283/.391/.477 with 13 home runs between 87 games in Springfield and 18 games in Memphis. After that, the wheels fell off.

In 2016, Garcia started the season in Memphis and hit just .192/.281/.336 in his first 38 games before being demoted to Springfield in late May. He would stay in Springfield through mid-July and regain some traction. He would hit .280 with 5 home runs over his final 31 games in Memphis.

But this season he was off to a rough start, batting .182/.250/.303 with a home run over 12 games.

It is rare for an organization to make such a move during the season without a need for his roster spot, but the Cardinals took this opportunity to create a little more room on the 40 man roster, now carrying just 38 players.

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.