The Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals continue their three-game series at Busch Stadium on Saturday night. The Cardinals came from behind to take the series opener on Friday.
The Astros are in first place in the AL West, eight games in front of the Oakland A’s. They have been playing well, 7-3 over their last 10 games going into the series against the Cardinals. Houston is doing well on the road this year as well; they are currently four games over .500 in away games. Although they have a commanding lead in their division, this series will be a good test against a tough team that they are unfamiliar with in the National League.
Gerrit Cole will be getting the start for the Astros in this matchup. He is now 11-5 on the season after picking up the win in his last outing against the A’s where he allowed just one run over seven innings. Cole has been solid all year long with a 3.03 ERA, and he currently leads the team as well as the rest of baseball with 205 strikeouts.
Houston has been getting help from everywhere in the lineup out of the batter’s box. Third baseman Alex Bregman leads them in home runs with 26. Michael Brantley leads the team with an impressive .326 batting average, while first baseman Yuli Gurriel leads the Astros with 65 runs batted in.
Luckily for the Astros, while they have four starting pitchers on the IL, their bats have been solid this year and keep them in every game. They are batting .270 as a team with 170 home runs.
Streaking To First
The Cardinals have made a push lately, landing them in first place in the NL Central. They will be facing the Astros at home for this series, where they are 29-20 this season so far. Their division is up for grabs, and with the Cubs playing the Brewers currently in Milwaukee, this gives the Cardinals a great chance to take control moving forward.
Starting in this game for St Louis will be 27-year-old Daniel Ponce de Leon. He is currently 1-0 with a 2.82 ERA and 44 strikeouts over his 38 1/3 innings pitched. In his last outing, Ponce de Leon allowed just one run over three innings in a no-decision against the Pirates. Both pitchers in this matchup have been playing well lately and will look to get a big win here to keep momentum going.
The big story for the Cardinals right now is their health. They have had players step up big to help them keep things rolling, but they will surely be happy to get veterans Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, and Marcell Ozuna back. If the Cardinals can stay near the top of the division while these key players are out, it gives them a very solid chance to take control when they return.
What To Expect
Both of these teams are very solid this year and currently playing good baseball. I like both pitchers in this game, and while Cole is more proven, I think Ponce de Leon will cause a lot of problems for the Astros lineup. I’ll take the Cardinals to win this one in a low-scoring game.