Saturday begins a new era in St. Louis Cardinals baseball. The trades for starting pitchers Justin Masterson and John Lackey take direct effect on Saturday and Sunday as the Cardinals latest acquisitions face off against the NL Central leading Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cardinals fell to the Brewers 7-4 in the first of a three game set on Friday. Aramis Ramirez, as he usually does against St. Louis, and against Adam Wainwright in particular, mashed. Ramirez went 3-5 with a home run and two RBI’s. The performance raised his lifetime numbers against Wainwright to a .415 average with three home runs and eight RBI’s. The loss dropped the Cardinals to third place, putting them three games back of Milwaukee.
Masterson is set to return from a DL stint against Kyle Lohse on Saturday with the Cardinals in dire need of a win. In his final three starts as an Indian Masterson failed to pitch more than four innings, giving up , 13 earned runs in just nine innings. Masterson was sent to the DL with a sore knee after his July 7th start against the Yankees. The Cardinals are hoping Masterson can return to his promising 2013 form when he won 14 games with a 3.45 ERA in 193 innings.
Lackey is set to make his debut in Sunday’s game as he faces Matt Garza. Lackey left the Red Sox after compiling an 11-7 record and a 3.60 ERA. The move to pitcher friendly Busch Stadium could improve those numbers greatly and return Lackey to a top of the rotation pitcher. Lackey pitched well in his final three games in Boston, going 2-1 in 20 innings while giving up just five runs.
Lackey may be in line for a contract extension with the Cardinals thanks to his $500,000 salary in 2015. Lackey signed a deal with the Red Sox with the 2015’s salary resulting from a missed season with the club due to Tommy John surgery in 2011.
The Brewers came into the three game set losing four of their last six games and scoring two or less runs in all four losses. Ryan Braun broke out of a career worst 0-19 stretch in Friday’s game and Brewers’ lead-off man Carlos Gonzales’ single in the fifth snapped an 0-20 stretch. The Brewers look to pad their lead in the Central as they throw their two most talented pitchers.
Now three games back, this weekend’s games could be the difference between making and missing the playoffs for St. Louis. If Masterson and Lackey are able to pitch well and eat up innings, the Cardinals’ relievers may regain form and the Cardinals offense may be given yet another opportunity to find itself.