A pair of struggling teams face off in Florida Monday night when the St. Louis Cardinals begin a three-game series against the Miami Marlins. The Cardinals come into the contest having dropped three in a row and four of their last five, while the Marlins have lost four in a row since putting together a four-game winning streak.
St. Louis will turn to Michael Wacha to try to turn things around in the middle of its current 10-game road trip that began with a three-game sweep in Chicago by the Cubs. Wacha has been working out of the bullpen since late May but is getting another chance in the Cardinals’ rotation for this one. Miami will counter with Sandy Alcantara, who was dealt by the Cardinals to the Marlins in the deal for Marcell Ozuna prior to the 2018 season.
The moneyline for this contest has the St. Louis Cardinals -140 and the Miami Marlins +130. The over/under has been set at 8.5.
Wacha has put together a 3-2 record this season, but he has an ERA of 6.30. He is coming off a 2 1/3-inning stint against Cincinnati last week in which he didn’t give up a run and struck out three, but his two outings prior to that were horrendous. In his first relief appearance of the season against Philadelphia, Wacha went just one inning, allowing six earned runs on five hits and three walks, with three of the hits being home runs. His last start wasn’t much better, as he went just 4 2/3 innings against Kansas City on May 22, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and three walks.
Ozuna should be comfortable back in Miami, which isn’t good news for the Marlins. Ozuna had three hits in Sunday night’s loss to the Cubs and is hitting .259 this season with 17 home runs, 12 doubles, and 54 RBI. The Cardinals’ offense has been having trouble putting runs on the board lately, scoring a total of 12 runs over their last six games — with four of those coming in the first inning Saturday night on a three-run homer by Ozuna and a solo shot by Harrison Bader.
Alcantara will make his 13th start of the season on Monday, looking to improve his 3-5 record. Alcantara has a 3.80 ERA and has struck out 46 while walking 32 in his 71 innings of work. He is coming off a solid outing at Milwaukee, holding the Brewers to one run over seven innings on five hits, striking out five and walking one to pick up the victory.
After looking really good in winning four straight and scoring at least eight runs in each of those victories, the Marlins’ offense fell way off over the last four games. Miami has plated just eight runs during its current four-game losing streak, with six of those coming in Sunday’s 7-6 12-inning loss to the Braves. The Marlins lack pop to their lineup, with the team hitting just 48 home runs in their first 63 games this season. Catcher Jorge Alfaro leads the team with nine home runs while Starlin Castro’s paces the team with just 27 RBI.
Back On Track
Wacha has shown improved velocity since moving to the bullpen, so he might be a different pitcher in this go-round in the rotation. He may also get the boost of the return of All-Star catcher Yadier Molina to the Cardinals’ lineup. Molina has been out with a strained tendon in his right thumb but took batting practice Sunday and hopes to start playing at some point during this series. Molina or not, I’m going with the Cardinals -140 in this one.