a series preview
The St. Louis Cardinals host the Detroit Tigers for two games starting Tuesday evening at 6:45 pm CT. When these two teams faced off earlier this season in Detroit the Cardinals dropped both games and were outscored 4-14. Hopefully this series goes better for them.
The Tigers rank 19th in the league in wRC+ with 92, putting them pretty evenly matched with the Cardinals who have a 91 team wRC+. Their best hitter and most valuable player overall this season has been Jeimer Candelario. Candelario is tied for the team lead in wRC+ with Akil Baddoo, who in less playing time has been playing nearly as well, but is currently on the Injured List. Eric Haase leads the Tigers in home runs with 19 and ISO with .274, but is also currently on the Injured List. Jake Rogers had been putting up strong numbers in every facet of the game, especially for a catcher, but he has been on the 60-day Injured List since July 18 with a forearm injury and is not expected to return until mid-September. The player with the most plate appearances on the team is Robbie Grossman. He is tied with Candelario for the most valuable position player on the team with 2.1 fWAR and has a 115 wRC+. He has hit 18 homers and walks 14.8% of the time.
Jake Rogers was having a great year behind the plate before being injured and was one of the Tigers top defensive players. Harold Castro might the best player for the Tigers defensively. Overall his defensive numbers have taken a bit of hit from his stint in the outfield, but at shortstop and second base, particularly at second base he has showed some defensive skill:
The Cardinals will face 24-year-old righthander Casey Mize on Tuesday. Mize has a 3.69 ERA and a 5.03 FIP in 124.1 innings. He throws a slider, 4-seamer, and sinker each around 24% – 28% of the time and then throws a splitfinger and the occasional curveball. His biggest struggle has been with giving up home runs. For his career he has a 1.71 HR/9 and a 1.59 HR/9 in 2021. His sinker and 4-seamer have been his most troublesome pitches in this regard; he has given up 7 and 8 homers on each pitch, respectively. The location graph from Baseball Savant gives some indication what the issue is:
The Cardinals face the lefty Tarik Skubal on Wednesday afternoon. He is another 24-year-old that made his debut in 2020. He has a 4.02 ERA and 4.86 FIP. He has a good strikeout percentage of 25.6%, but he too has trouble with the longball. His HR/9 for 2021 is 1.90 and he has given up 26 homers in 123 innings. His biggest issue has also been fastball location, specifically his 4-seamer. He has thrown in over 43% of the time and per Baseball Savant’s run value, it is his least valuable pitch. His most valuable has been his sinker, then his slider, which he has thrown about 11% and 23% of the time respectively. He also has thrown a changeup about 12% of the time along with the occasional curveball, split finger, and two handfuls of cutters. Again, the location map via Baseball Savant:
You can see how hitters are crushing baseballs like this:
Miguel Cabrera is still a member of the Detroit Tigers. He is having a down year, but he has reached 500 career home runs.
The Cardinals have agreed to a one-year, $10 million contract extension with Yadier Molina, sources tell The Athletic.
— Katie Woo (@katiejwoo) August 24, 2021
Tuesday, August 24 at 6:45 pm CT: Casey Mize vs. Jack Flaherty
Wednesday, August 25 at 12:15 pm CT: Tarik Skubal vs. Jon Lester