Photo is credited to Getty Images.
Beginning on Thursday night, the Cardinals and Giants will clash at AT&T Park in San Francisco, California, for a pivotal, four-game series that will mean wonders in the National League Wild Card standings.
As play begins on Thursday, the Giants hold a half-game lead over the Mets for the National League’s first Wild Card spot, and the Cardinals are just a half-game behind the Mets for the second and final spot in the postseason picture.
In the series opener on Thursday night, Johnny Cueto will toe the rubber for the Giants. Cueto, a legitimate top-ten contender for the National League Cy Young Award, has fared pretty well recently, as the right-hander has logged seven quality innings in each of his last two outings and combined to whiff eleven batters in the two starts, adding to his season total of 174 punchouts.
Cueto’s counterpart will be Adam Wainwright. Although his season statistics overall may not be overly flattering, Wainwright has looked pretty well over his latest few outings, during which he has accumulated 20 innings over three starts and pitched to a 2.70 earned run average and 1.05 WHIP.
In the second game of the four-game series on Friday, Matt Moore will take the ball for the hometown Giants. Moore, after being clunked for six earned runs in under three innings in his outing in Colorado on September 5, the Giants’ biggest trade acquisition struck out eleven batters and walked just one in seven innings of two-run ball against the D-Backs on September 11.
Squaring off against Moore will be Luke Weaver. Weaver since taking place of Michael Wacha in the Cardinals’ starting rotation has turned in three quality starts, including a fine outing on September 11 against the Brewers where he limited Milwaukee to one earned run on three hits and added eight more strikeouts to raise his total to 39 in his 31 innings of work.
Saturday’s third-game is set to feature Jeff Samardzija for San Francisco. Samardzija is 2-2 with a 2.95 ERA over his last seven games and starts and has whiffed 39 batters over his last 42.2 innings. In his first season since inking a contract with the Giants over the winter, Samardzija is 11-10 with a 143:49 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 183.2 innings through 29 starts this year.
The finale of the four-game series between the Cardinals and Giants is slated to have Albert Suarez on the mound for San Francisco. The 26-year-old rookie Suarez has appeared in 20 games with the Giants this season, including ten starts. Over his last three starts, Suarez has logged five innings in each one with a 3.60 ERA across them.
The Cardinals will roll with Alex Reyes in Sunday’s series finale. Reyes piggybacked Jaime Garcia — who was pulled with two outs in the second inning — on September 13 and provided the Cardinals with 4.1 innings of scoreless relief to keep the Cardinals in the ballgame and ultimately pick up his second win in three major-league decisions. In 28 innings since his promotion to the majors in August, Reyes has posted a 1.29 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, despite issuing sixteen walks.