Series Preview: St. Louis Cardinals @ New York Yankees

Two of the more storied franchises in all of baseball will face off in an interleague matchup, as the New York Yankees play the struggling St. Louis Cardinals for a three game weekend set. The Yanks stand at 5-4 to this point, which is tied for second in the AL East and are currently on a four game winning streak. On the other hand, the Cardinals have a 3-6 record that’s dead last in the NL Central and just one win better than the worst team in the NL, the 2-6 Atlanta Braves.


GAME ONE (Friday, April 14th | First pitch 7:05 PM ET)
Probable Starters:  Masahiro Tanaka (0-1, 11.74 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Where to watch: YES Network, Fox Sports SUN, Fox Sports Midwest

The Yankees ace and 2016 Cy Young candidate has struggled through his first two starts. He’s allowed a combined 10 runs in just 7.2 innings. His inability to go deep into his starts is concerning, considering the other four starters have been horrible in that department the past few years. The Yankees need for him to get back on track against a Cardinals offense that ranks 20th in runs scored after its first 10 games. It’s definitely not what you want. Wacha, on the other hand, had a very good opening start to the season, pitching six innings while allowing just one run and striking out six. Tanaka will have to bring his best stuff if the Yankees want to win their fifth straight game.
Photo Credit: Greg Flume | Getty Images
GAME TWO (Saturday, April 15th | First pitch 1:05 PM ET)
Probable Pitchers:  CC Sabathia (1-0, 1.64 ERA) vs. Carlos Martinez (0-1, 3.65 ERA)
Where to watch: YES Network, Fox Sports SUN, MLB Network

CC has easily been the best pitcher on the Yankees so far this season. He’s had a slight issue with allowing walks, as he has six through 11 innings to this point, but other than that the veteran has been a life-saver for this team. He has allowed just nine hits and two runs, including no homers given up. If CC continues pitching anywhere close to this for the remainder of the season, it would be a huge boost to this youthful squad looking to make a playoff run. Martinez had a phenomenal, Opening Day start against the defending champs, going 7.1 innings, allowing six hits, no runs and striking out 10 against one of, if not the best, offense in the league in the Chicago Cubs. He followed it up with a six run (five earned) against the first place (yes, you read that right) Cincinnati Reds. Martinez’s stuff could give the Yankees lineup trouble all day.

GAME 3 (Sunday April 16th | First pitch 8:05 PM ET)
Probable Pitchers:  Michael Pineda (1-1, 3.97 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (0-2, 7.00 ERA)
Where to watch: ESPN
Michael Pineda is one of the more wildly inconsistent pitchers in baseball and has once again shown that through his first two starts. Both of starts having come against Tampa Bay, Pineda’s second start, at home, fared far better than the first. In the opening series of the season, Pineda couldn’t even get out of the fourth inning, as he allowed eight hits and four runs. He followed that up with a performance that was the best by any pitcher in baseball this season. He brought a perfect game into the seventh, while in the end having allowed just two hits, one run, and striking out 11 batters. We all know Pineda has filthy stuff, but the Yankees will need him to be far more consistent as the 2017 season goes on. Formerly one of the top Cy Young candidates annually, Wainwright’s slew of injuries has made him a shell of what he used to be. His spring training was pedestrian, at best, as it included a start against the Mets in which he was pulled in the second inning after having allowed 10 runs. He followed up a solid outing against the Cubs with an undesired one against the Nationals. Look for the Yankees to rough Wainwright up early and often.

Three Keys/Things to Watch for:
Matt Holliday against his former teammates
Holliday has been doing a lot of good things at the plate for the Bronx Bombers to start the season and will look to produce against his former teammates. His productivity has helped the Yankees stay competitive without Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin, while Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird have also missed extensive time. Even when he’s not getting tons of base hits, Holliday is still finding ways to contribute. He was hitless in four at-bats in each of the last two games against the Rays, but he reached base in both games with a walk. He also had a five-walk game against the Orioles last week, while not registering an official at-bat. He’s batting .276 in 29 at-bats in his first season with New York, but has an incredible .462 on-base percentage due to all the walks. Holliday will be looking to continue his contributions against his former squad.
Photo Credit: Patrick Semansky | AP

Guys filling in for injured players
There has been mixed results for the fill in guys so far this season. Ronald Torreyes has really turned the corner from last season, where he was widely criticized by Yankees fans, myself included. He has done an admirable job at shortstop filling in for Didi Gregorius to start the season. Sanchez has been out, Kyle Higashioka and Austin Romine are a combined 3-for-16 with just a lone RBI. Greg Bird’s replacement Chris Carter also struggled when he was in the lineup, as he’s three-for-17 without a homer yet in a Yankee uniform. These guys will need to step up, as Austin, Sanchez, and Didi fight to return from their respective injuries.

Continued production from the 2016 afterthoughts
The Yankees have had many players that have largely disappointed the past few seasons and last season Chase Headley and Aaron Hicks were fighting for the infamous “Stephen Drew” award. The aforementioned Ronald Torreyes was also an atrocity off the bench. Those three have turned out to be the leaders of the offense in 2017 thus far, something that would be near impossible to believe at the beginning of the season. Headley leads the team in batting average with a .375 average, while Torreyes leads the team in RBIs with eight. Hicks meanwhile lead the Yankees to the sweep over the Rays with a two-homer performance.
Photo Credit: Elsa | Getty Images

Prediction
The Yankees have actually done quite a good job without some offensive studs, having won four straight and coming off a sweep against their division rival Tampa Bay Rays. The Cardinals have struggled out of the gates and need to bounce back on track before it’s too late in the NL Central. I expect Yankees to take the Sunday night rubber match on ESPN, as Michael Pineda will build off of his excellent previous outing.

Article by: Spencer Schultz

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