Who's on tap?
April 15th: Dave Bush (0-2, 8.44 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (1-1, 3.60 ERA)
April 16th: Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 4.76) vs. Kyle Lohse (2-0, 1.04 ERA)
April 17th: Manny Parra (1-1, 4.82 ERA) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (1-0, 4.00 ERA)
Who should you watch?
Prince Fielder and Bill Hall. Fielder is running on a 2 for 24 slump right now, and you can imagine he's just fuming, but there's something about the Cardinals that brings out the best in Prince. Prince has a .261 batting average against the Cards, but a healthy .376 OBP. That's 20 walks in 133 PA, which is pretty good, if you didn't know. LaRussa does not like throwing to the kid and the Brewers shouldn't mind since Bill Hall has found his power stroke again and bats a healthy .294/.349/.553 against Cardinal pitching.
And for the Red Birds? Starting pitching. This will be the key for the Cardinals entire season. With Cesar Izturis, Adam Kennedy, Skip Schumaker and an ailing Albert Pujols, the Cardinals will rarely blow you away with a huge amount of runs even though they are 5th in runs scored in the NL. The biggest surprise thus far has been former Twin, Kyle Lohse who has two victories and an impressive ERA. But remember, he's a career 4.77 ERA, and players don't just turn into Cy Young award winners because they switch teams, and the Brewers hit Lohse hard who is 3-3 with a 5.66 ERA. I think the most important start for the Cards will be Wainwright's who is their ace while Carpenter continues to recuperate. He's dominated the Brewers in his two years of service with a 1-1 record and a 2.14 ERA.
What are the keys to victory?
The Brewers need to knock out these Cardinals starters early because there is nothing impressive about Ryan Franklin, Randy Flores, Kyle McClellan or Ron Villone (edit: Motte and Garcia are pitching prospects in StL. I misread the depth charts.). If the Brewers can take pitches and get to high pitch counts early, the Cards are likely to fold when the bullpen takes the field in the 6th inning. If they can do this in game one, they can build some pressure in games two in three, making it very difficult for the Cards to keep up with a team that has as much depth as the Brewers do.
The Cardinals are going to have to take their walks. Brewers pitching has been absolutely awful lately, walking 13 batters in the last series. While the Mets failed to fully capitalize, Tony LaRussa teams always seem to. They understand the concept of making contact, even if it's a little bloop over the infield. There's not a lot of speed or pop in this lineup, so getting baserunners is extremely important.
It's about time the Cardinals get exposed as a below average team with an above average coach. Game one is supposed to be Wainwright, but there's a discrepancy at MLB.com, showing Braden Looper in some spots and Wainwright in others. Brewers fans should hope Looper pitches as he has had a lot less success against this young team. But then you have to ask yourself if Dave Bush can save his job with this start. In four starts against St Louis, he's only mustered 23.2 innings and has a 7.61 ERA. Even worse, in Bush's only start at Busch Staduim, he gave up 7 runs in 6 innings. If Wainwright pitches in game one, St. Louis takes it in a landslide, and if Looper pitches, Brewers take game one.
In games two and three, you'll likely see Lohse melt down just like Suppan did yesterday and Wellemeyer will get handled just as easily. Expect Villanueva and Parra to continue to pitch pretty well in these games, both going 6 innings, and possibly solidifying their roles for the rest of the season. Villa is due for a melt down game soon, so he may struggle. In the end the Brewers take this series in games two and three, or possibly sweep if they steal game one.