Photo is credited to Getty Images.
This weekend, the Pirates and Cardinals will play a three-game series at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, one that will be pivotal in determining the final National League Wild Card standings.
As play commences on Friday, the Cardinals are one game behind the Giants for the National League’s second seed and two games behind the first-place Mets. The Giants are hosting the Dodgers for three games this weekend, and the Mets are in Philly for a three-game date with the Phillies.
In the first game of the series, Carlos Martinez will take the ball for the Cardinals. Martinez is 4-2 with a 2.86 ERA over his last seven games, during which he has whiffed 46 batters in 48 innings. Martinez will be looking to polish off his second full season as a starting pitcher on a high note. In 30 starts entering Friday, the 25-year-old is 15-9 with a 165:69 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 188.1 frames.
Taking the mound for the Pirates will be top-rated rookie Tyler Glasnow. Glasnow has appeared in six games — three starts — during his Major League career that began back in July. In those six games since July, Glasnow has lost his only decision and has punched out 20 batters in under nineteen innings.
The Cardinals have not yet announced who will start Saturday’s middle game, but it will likely come down to three: Jaime Garcia, Michael Wacha, and Luke Weaver, who all pitched in Monday’s 15-2 loss to the Reds. Although Garcia started the contest, he was pulled after allowing two home runs in the first inning in favor of Wacha and Weaver, who were lit up for seven and five runs, respectively.
On the other hand, the recently durable Chad Kuhl will toe the rubber for Pittsburgh. In Kuhl’s last nine starts dating back to August 9, six have been quality, and Kuhl has struck out 35 batters in the span. Kuhl, like Friday’s starter Glasnow, is in the first year of Major League career and seems to be all but a lock for the Bucs’ starting rotation next season.
In the series finale on Sunday, St. Louis will turn to Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has failed to escape the sixth inning in each of his last three starts, during which he has allowed thirteen earned runs on 26 hits and seven walks. Shall the Cardinals grasp a Wild Card spot, he and Martinez seem to be the two most logical starting hurlers for that do-or-die contest, although Martinez — given he starts Friday and would be on full rest — may have the upper hand.
Ryan Vogelsong will take the ball in what is guaranteed to be the Pirates’ final game of the 2016 season. Vogelsong, though owner of a sore 7.88 ERA over his last seven games and starts, has had a pretty respectable season, being that he overcame facial fractures suffered by a hit by pitch back in late May.