Anyone hoping the Cardinals upcoming series with the Phillies would be a dramatic rematch of the 2011 National League Division Series is going to be sorely disappointed.
Although the Redbirds remain in first place -- by the skin of their beaks -- they've been rocked by a seemingly endless streak of injuries that have required general manager John Mozeliak to employ a diving bell because he's gone so far beneath the surface of the depth chart.
Ace pitcher Chris Carpenter, first baseman Lance Berkman, replacement first baseman Matt Carpenter, relievers Scott Linebrink and Kyle McClellan, utility player Skip Schumaker and centerfielder Jon Jay have all currently on the disabled list for St. Louis. Meanwhile the Phillies have been without their two best players -- first baseman Ryan Howard and second Baseman Chase Utley -- have been out of action all season.
That doesn't mean the series will be without its intrigue. however. Both teams can still pitch pretty well. And both teams are hungry. The Phillies are in last place in the National League East but they have clawed their way near the .500 mark and they're certainly on the upswing. And the Cardinals fattened up early in the season on sub par teams. So they have a little something to prove against a large market club that will likely be in the playoff picture when it starts to get healthier.
The Phillies will send Joe Blanton (4-4, 3.74) to the hill for the first contest of the four-game set. He'll be opposed by St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook (4-3, 2.41.) Blanton is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA against the Redbirds in his career. He's won three of his last four decisions. But the loss was a real clunker suffered in his most recent outing. Boston hit four homers against the Phillies righty in 4 1/3 innings to score 7 runs -- six earned -- on nine hits. Westbrook has suffered lately from a lack of support. He has allowed more than two earned runs only twice in his eight starts so far in 2012. One of those games was his last time out in which was beaten by the Dodgers.
In the second game of the set, Cliff Lee (0-2, 2.66) will take the mound against Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.91.) Lee has been a handful for the Cardinals in the past with a 3-1 record and a 1.48 ERA against the Birds. He gave up five runs on nine hits in seven innings of work Sunday against the Red Sox. Lohse has given up more hits than innings pitched in east of his last four starts and is scuffling. He surrendered 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings in his most recent start against the Dodgers but somehow managed to limit the damage to three runs scored. Lohse is 3-4 with a 3.43 ERA in his career against Philadelphia.
On Saturday the Phillies will employ Kyle Kendrick (0-4, 5.23) against St. Louis southpaw Jaime Garcia (3-2, 3.55.) Kendrick started the season for Philadelphia in the bullpen but has been pressed into service in the rotation. Opponents are batting .343 against him in road games and he's give uo five homers in 32 innings. While his numbers are bad for the season, he's been pretty good against the Cardinals over his career with a 4-1 mark and a 3.32 ERA. Garcia is 2-1 with a 1.20 ERA against the Phightin' Phils in his career. He's held Philadelphia batters to a .188 average.
The pitching match-up of the series has been held for the finale. Philadelphia will send ace Roy Halladay (4-4, 3.58) to the mound against St. Louis co-ace Adam Wainwright (3-5, 4.78). The last time we saw Halladay, he was matched against the other St. Louis ace, Chris Carpenter, in one of the greatest playoff pitching duals of all time. Doc is 2-1 with a 2.10 ERA against St. Louis in his career. Wainwright is coming off his best start in two years, a complete game shutout against the Padres in which he allowed four hits. Against Philadelphia, Wainwright is 2-1 with a 2.30 ERA for his career.