Technically a preview
The St. Louis Cardinals are 42-44, in fourth place in the National League Central, and nine games behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers.
The San Francisco Giants are 53-31, in first place in the National League West, and a half game ahead of the second place Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Cardinals and Giants will compete against each other in three baseball contests, one on each of the days of July 5, 6, and 7. It should be baseball.
The Giants have a very good offense. The team has a 109 wRC+, which is tied for third-best in all of baseball. Their top standout position players per Fangraphs are Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford (at 3.1 and 2.8, respectively). Per Baseball Reference there is really one standout position player (though several are very good): Crawford at 3.4 rWAR.
In 2015 and 2016 Crawford was one of the premier shortstops in the league, but since 2017 his productivity at the plate had seen a sharp decline and his defense, though still good, took a bit of a hit. He has fully rebounded in 2021 and is having the best hitting season of his 11-year career, slashing .264/.346/.533 for a 138 wRC+ and is walking 10.7% of the time. The reason behind his recent success is barrels, according to Baseball Savant. Barrels are “a batted ball with the perfect combination of exit velocity and launch angle”. Per Baseball Savant Crawford’s Barrel % is up to 15.7%, the highest of his career and in the top 7% of the league in 2021.
The Cardinals top two position players have been Nolan Arenado and Tyler O’Neill. Arenado has the second-lowest strikeout rate on the team after Tommy Edman at 13.5% and at .236 the highest ISO after team-leading O’Neill, who is at .282. He leads the team with 16 homers. O’Neill is right behind him with 15.
The Giants also have very good pitching. Their pitching staff is second in the league in ERA at 3.26 and fourth in FIP at 3.71. Fangraphs and B-Ref agree the top two pitchers have been Kevin Gausman (3.1 fWAR, 4.6 bWAR) and Anthony DeSclafani (1.7 fWAR, 2.6 bWAR). Naturally the Cardinals defeated Gausman on Monday evening, tagging him for two runs over seven innings. They will face Johnny Cueto on Tuesday evening and Alex Wood on Wednesday. Both have had issues with the long ball; Cueto has given up 1.25 HR/9 and Wood 1.06.
The Giants also have good relief pitching. Jake McGee and Tyler Rogers have split time at closing with 16 and 10 saves, respectively. Rogers and Dominic Leone each have an ERA under 2 at 1.35 and 1.17, respectively. Caleb Baragar has pitched over 18 innings and has only given up one run and zero home runs.
Adam Wainwright has put the team on his back as of late and at 1.4 fWAR has been the team’s top starter. During the Cardinals recent skid Waino has started six games, pitching 41 innings, and given up 11 runs. He has a 8.59 K/9, 1.76 BB/9, and has given up three homers for a 0.66 HR/9 during that time. His ERA since June 3 is 2.41 and his FIP is 3.09. He will pitch for the Cardinals in Tuesday night’s contest.
On the Injured list the Giants have first baseman Brandon Belt, third baseman Evan Longoria, leftfielder Mike Tauchman, infielder Tommy La Stella (60-day), pitcher Logan Webb, pitcher Aaron Sanchez (60-day), pitcher Sammy Long, and pitcher Reyes Moronta (60-day).
The Cardinals injured list contains outfielder Austin Dean (7-day), infielder Max Moroff (60-day), pitcher Jack Flaherty (60-day), pitcher Daniel Ponce de Leon, pitcher Miles Mikolas (60-day), pitcher Jordan Hicks (60-day), and pitcher Kodi Whitley.
On Monday Kwang Hyun Kim faced off against Kevin Gausman.
Tuesday evening at 8:45 pm CT Adam Wainwright will toe the rubber against Johnny Cueto.
Johan Oviedo and Alex Woods will square off at 8:45 pm CT on Wednesday evening.