The St. Louis Cardinals have had as woeful of an offensive series as they have had in years this week at Citi Field, but on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, they are going to attempt to get the job done and get back on track against the New York Mets.
A day after getting no-hit by Johan Santana, the Cards were blanked again by RA Dickey. The Cardinals have been so bad offensively that they haven’t even forced a relief pitcher into a game in the first two games of this series. The starting pitching hasn’t been all that great either, as both Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn have struggled as well in a very pitcher friendly park. It’s Jake Westbrook’s turn on Sunday, and he is going to try to get back on track after four straight terrible starts. The Redbirds have dropped four in a row that Westbrook has been on the mound, and in that stretch, he has allowed 19 runs in just 20.0 innings of work with a whopping 31 hits and nine walks allowed. He has also given up four gopher balls in that stretch as well. However, if you look at the body of work for the season for Westbrook, you will see some relatively impressive stats. Yes, he is just 4-4 for the year, but considering how bad matters have been of late, there is no shame in a 3.84 ERA.
It is going to be really hard for Jonathon Niese to duplicate what Dickey and Santana have done over the course of the last two days. Clearly, this is the best stretch of games that Mets pitchers have ever had in franchise history, and anything less than another shutout would probably almost look like a disappointment. Alas, Niese really doesn’t have the stuff that Dickey or Santana does, and he only has one shutout in his 75 starts in his career. Niese though, is definitely serviceable. He is 3-2 with a 4.55 ERA this year, but if you take out his start against the Toronto Blue Jays in which he allowed eight runs in just three innings, matters are a heck of a lot more palatable. Though Niese is just 1-1 for his career against the Cards, he does have a solid 2.63 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP against them in his career, and he is going to be hoping to improve upon that on Sunday.
Could there be such a thing as rust factor for the New York bullpen? That’s more or less what we are going to be afraid of for a team that has now been three straight days without having to use a reliever. Niese won’t be able to blank the Redbirds for all that long, and in the end, we think that this game is going to end up shooting past the ‘total’.
St. Louis Cardinals @ New York Mets Pick: St. Louis/New York Over 8.5