The St. Louis Cardinals hope to extend their positive pitching trend when they host the New York Mets on Monday night.
After a rocky start this season, Cardinals pitchers have allowed three runs or less in 10 of their past 14 games. That success propelled the team up the National League Central ladder after a slow start.
The Cardinals have won eight of their last 10 games entering a four-game series against the Mets at Busch Stadium. St. Louis moved within one game of the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers by sweeping a three-game road series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Meanwhile, the Mets won two of three road games against the Philadelphia Phillies over the weekend to get back to .500.
After spending the weekend in COVID-19 protocol due to contact tracing, Cardinals veteran right-hander Adam Wainwright (0-3, 4.08 ERA) will rejoin the active roster Monday and start with extra rest.
In his last two starts, Wainwright allowed just three runs on 11 hits over 16 innings. He struck out 18 and walked just one during that span.
“He’s incredible to watch out there,” Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman said. “Every time he goes out there, you know he’s going to compete.”
Wainwright is 5-6 with a 4.72 ERA in 14 career appearances against the Mets, including 12 starts. He has had notable success against Mets hitters Albert Almora Jr. (0-for-10), Jonathan Villar (3-for-18, six strikeouts) and Kevin Pillar (1-for-7).
Mets manager Luis Rojas decided to give staff ace Jacob deGrom an extra day between starts, so deGrom will start Tuesday instead of Monday.
“We are going to be in May already, but we expressed this in the past: We want everyone the whole year,” Rojas said. “We just want to keep guys fresh, so maybe Monday we will have a chance.”
That left Rojas to improvise Monday. He has veteran Joey Lucchesi (0-1, 6.75 ERA) on the taxi squad, ready to go.
Lucchesi allowed two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings (3.38 ERA) in his only career start against the Cardinals in 2019.
Relievers Sean Reid-Foley or Robert Gsellman could serve as the “opener” if Rojas decides to construct a bullpen start. After Sunday night’s 8-7 win over the Phillies, Rojas said he hadn’t decided which route to take.
The Cardinals will play this series without cornerstone catcher Yadier Molina, who remains on the injured list with a foot injury. Andrew Knizner has done an admirable job filling in for him.
“He’s done his homework,” manager Mike Shildt said. “Then the game starts, and if adjustments need to be made, he’s made them.”
The Cardinals are also working around injuries to relievers Daniel Ponce de Leon (shoulder) and Jordan Hicks (elbow). Both were scheduled for further examinations Monday.
The Mets have been dealing with minor injuries to infielder J.D Davis (sprained left hand) and outfielder Brandon Nimmo (bruised left index finger). Neither was available to hit Sunday, but Nimmo entered the game as a defensive replacement in center field.
“Absolutely, it’s frustrating, especially when you’re swinging a hot bat,” Davis said. “You’re seeing the ball well. You’re playing well. Of course you don’t want to be taken out of the lineup.”
Reliever Edwin Diaz exited Sunday night’s game with back tightness. Also sidelined is Mets third baseman Luis Guillorme, who landed on the IL with an oblique strain.
–Field Level Media