Cardinals' Jack Flaherty: Fires six scoreless in win

Cardinals' Jack Flaherty: Fires six scoreless in win

Flaherty (7-6) picked up the win against the Brewers on Friday, tossing six scoreless innings, while scattering three hits, striking out seven and walking three in the Cardinals‘ eventual 5-2 victory.

The 22-year-old continues to impress, as this marked the second time in his last three starts he’s gone six scoreless, bringing his ERA down to 3.05 and his WHIP to 1.08 through 109.1 innings. He’s also struck out 134 batters over that time, so he’s been providing excellent value in that department as well in what has been an all around stellar rookie campaign to this point. He’s scheduled to take the mound next on the road against the Dodgers on Wednesday.

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Can Cardinals OF Harrison Bader become the next Mike Trout?

Can Cardinals OF Harrison Bader become the next Mike Trout?

The Cardinals may have a new star in the making.

Outfielder Harrison Bader has been quietly putting up gaudy numbers this summer ever since his playing time increased. Bader, 24, is a speedy outfielder with insane defensive range and a potent bat. He’s a five-tool player.

Bader entered Thursday night’s action slashing .280/.348/.431 with eight home runs and 12 stolen bases. But he bashed another home run Wednesday, giving him nine in just 247 plate appearances.

While Bader played with the Cardinals a bit last season, 2018 has been his first taste of consistent MLB action. With a WAR over 3.5, he is poised to make sabermetric fans water at the mouth similarly to Mike Trout when he first made headlines with the Angels.

Trout’s first real MLB action came in 2012, and it’s still arguably his best overall season. He slashed .326/.399/.564 with 30 home runs and 49 steals. He had an outrageous 10.7 WAR, and threatened to change the way we judge MLB players.

Over the last six-plus seasons, Trout has remained a consistent on-base threat with power and speed, but he hasn’t commanded attention likes stars in other sports leagues.

Bader’s numbers are far from Trout’s, but the potential is there. Bader has shown the ability to get on base, hit 20-plus home runs in a season and steal 20-plus bases. Both outfielders are also impeccable on defense.

Cardinals star Matt Carpenter, who is in contention for National MVP this season, had a different player in mind when thinking about Bader.

“He’s just such a high energy player,” Carpenter said of Bader, via MLB.com. “He can ignite an offense. He can ignite a defense. He can ignite a pitching staff with his play. You see like what Billy Hamilton can be, we think Harrison Bader can be and is that same guy.”

Hamilton is a speedy baserunner with nice wheels in the outfield, but he’s never been a five-tool player. Bader has the potential, and has already produced, at a more consistent level that Hamilton for the Reds.

Comparing anyone to Trout is dangerous, especially when its a 24 year old with limited starting experience. But Bader may just be MLB’s next big star.

Cardinals look to complete sweep of Nationals

Cardinals look to complete sweep of Nationals

The St. Louis Cardinals just keep on winning. On Wednesday night, the victories took place on and off the field.

Minutes before they polished off a 4-2 victory over the Washington Nationals that stretched their season-long winning streak to eight, they got the evening’s biggest triumph: X-rays on National League home run leader and MVP candidate Matt Carpenter came back negative.

Carpenter left the game in the bottom of the seventh after being drilled on the back of the hand by a Matt Grace fastball. The air seemed to go out of the stadium as well as the Fox Sports Midwest booth, but news arrived an inning later that Carpenter checked out all right.

Interim manager Mike Shildt, who shot Grace an icy glare as he walked off the field after he lifted Carpenter, expects him to play when St. Louis aims to complete a four-game sweep on Thursday night in Busch Stadium.

“He told me he’d be ready to go,” Shildt said. “We’ll be smart about it. I anticipate Carpenter to play tomorrow.”

Carpenter, who has clouted 33 homers and has spearheaded the team’s surge into contention in both the NL Central and wild-card races, used an intentional walk in the fifth to up his streak of reaching base to 33 straight games.

But the Cardinals (66-55) have been a lot more than Carpenter of late. Center fielder Harrison Bader is defending at a Gold Glove level while hitting .273 with occasional power and changing games with his baserunning.

He went 3-for-4 Wednesday night, creating a fifth-inning run by scoring on a wild pitch that might have bounced about 15 feet to the left of catcher Spencer Kieboom. Bader also ranged nearly 70 feet to deny Bryce Harper an extra-base hit with a diving catch to end the fourth.

“Pitchers are doing a good job pounding the zone,” Bader said. “They have confidence in their teammates, so it’s nice to run one down for them.”

Luke Weaver (6-10, 4.66 ERA) will get the call for St. Louis after skipping his Sunday start in Kansas City as the result of an odd injury. Weaver cut his index finger opening an aluminum foil lining on a can of food Saturday, and the team opted to use Tyson Ross in his place.

Weaver hasn’t pitched since a 2-1 loss on Aug. 6 in Miami — the last time St. Louis dropped a game. Weaver logged a quality start, allowing seven hits and two runs in six innings with no walks and five strikeouts. Thursday will be his first career appearance against Washington.

Tanner Roark (7-12, 4.12) will attempt to keep his recent roll going for the Nationals (60-61). He has won his last four starts, beating the Chicago Cubs 9-4 on Saturday as he scattered nine hits over 7 2/3 innings. Roark ceded just two runs, walking one and whiffing seven.

“There’s still definitely things I need to work on and just maintain,” Roark said to mlb.com.

Roark is 1-2 with a 6.00 earned run average in five career games against the Cardinals, three of them starts. He has not faced the Cardinals this season.

Washington has lost four in a row and is nine games off Atlanta’s first-place pace in the NL East.

DeJong Finds Swing Hitting Near Bottom of Cards Lineup

DeJong Finds Swing Hitting Near Bottom of Cards Lineup

After the first walk-off hit of Paul DeJong’s career, could the second-year short stop be on the cusp of late-season turn around like fellow St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter? 

While we won’t expect MVP numbers from DeJong, he’s getting closer to his rookie-year marks that were good enough to finish runner-up in the Rookie of the Year voting in 2017. Currently, DeJong is hitting .243 with 13 home runs, 36 RBI and slugging .532. With last night’s heroics, the 25-year-old has helped St. Louis to a six-game winning streak.

To start the season, DeJong looked like there wasn’t a sophomore slump coming his way. Through May 17, he was hitting .260 with eight home runs and he was on pace to surpass his 25 long balls from 2017. And while his strike outs were just as high, his walk rate was also up, compared to last year. 

Then he was hit by a pitch and fractured his left hand, putting him on the DL for a month and a half. When he returned he couldn’t find his power. 

Through 21 games he hit just one home run and was slugging .325. He was moved up to the No. 3 spot in the lineup by interim manager Mike Shildt, but DeJong couldn’t find his power their.

Since Shildt has moved him back to a more comfortable No. 5 spot, DeJong has been rejuvenated.  In his last seven games, DeJong is batting .276 with four home runs and a .793 slugging percentage. 

Although he’s been batting fifth in seven straight games for St. Louis, Shildt may want to even think about moving him down one more spot. Because his career splits say sixth is his favorite position to hit in. His batting average in the sixth spot this year is .346.

We’ll see where DeJong hits tonight for game two of a four-game series at home against Washington – but Cardinals fans should hope it’s fifth or sixth. 

Cardinals' Miles Mikolas: Allows four runs in no-decision

Cardinals' Miles Mikolas: Allows four runs in no-decision

Mikolas allowed four runs on four hits and one walk across seven innings Monday in a no-decision against the Nationals. He struck out four.

Mikolas allowed an RBI double to Ryan Zimmerman and a solo home run to Bryce Harper, but he entered the seventh inning with a quality start under his belt. Unfortunately, a two-run homer from Juan Soto tarnished that feat while putting Mikolas on the hook for a loss, before his team came back to win late. The right-hander hadn’t allowed more than three earned runs since June 18th and had allowed just one home run over that stretch. He’s been quite steady this season and should bounce back this weekend against the Brewers.

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Cardinals' Marcell Ozuna: Run-scoring double in win

Cardinals' Marcell Ozuna: Run-scoring double in win

Ozuna went 2-for-5 with an RBI double and two runs in a win over the Royals on Sunday.

Ozuna helped pad the Cardinals‘ lead in the ninth with his two-bagger, which drove in his third run over the last four games. After recording just one extra-base hit (a double) over the first seven games of August, Ozuna has two doubles and a triple over the last four contests on his way to a .326 average for the month.

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