The Yankees, predictably, are not playing at a 120-win pace anymore. As a result, they can no longer say they have the best record in baseball: At 70-33, that honor belongs to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That doesn’t mean the 70-36 Yanks are suddenly a bad ballclub, even after going 18-18 in their last 36 games. They remain an elite squad, and will try to snap a two-game losing streak when they visit the St. Louis Cardinals for a three-game set starting tonight at Busch Stadium.
The 56-48 Cardinals are very much in contention for a playoff spot. In fact, they are just half a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings. They were reportedly among the finalists for superstar outfielder Juan Soto, but he of course ended up with the San Diego Padres.
The Cards secured some rotation help to navigate the second half and try to secure their place in the postseason, bringing in José Quintana (and reliever Chris Stratton) from the Pittsburgh Pirates and left-hander Jordan Montgomery from the Yankees, sacrificing center fielder Harrison Bader in the process.
Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups for the weekend series, one in which Yankees fans will see Monty wearing a different uniform for the first time ever.
Friday: Nestor Cortes vs. Dakota Hudson (8:15 PM ET)
Cortes is not the sub-2.00 ERA pitcher he was at the beginning of the season, but has settled as a top-of-the-rotation stalwart. He pitched in the All-Star Game, has a 2.53 ERA for the season (in 106.2 innings) and has accumulated 111 punchouts and a 1.02 WHIP. He has allowed just three earned runs in his last three starts, covering 18 frames.
In 19 starts and 101 innings, Hudson has a 4.10 ERA. He has a horrible BB/K, though, at 44/54, and his FIP is a much higher 4.62. He is striking out fewer batters than ever, and the Yanks’ offense could be a tough matchup for him. He has never faced them in his career.
Saturday: Domingo Germán vs. Jordan Montgomery (7:15 PM ET)
After allowing five runs in three innings during his first start of the year against the Houston Astros, Germán has conceded four in 9.2 frames vs. the New York Mets and the Seattle Mariners. His 6/10 BB/K ratio indicates he still isn’t fully “back”, and will face a strong lineup tomorrow.
Montgomery will make his debut with the Cardinals on Saturday; fate is so odd and cruel that his first opponent will be the team that drafted and developed him. The southpaw had a 5.25 ERA in his last seven starts, so he wasn’t exactly sharp as of late, but remains a perfectly solid back-end starter for any contender with his 3.69 ERA for the season and his 3.94 career mark.
Sunday: Frankie Montas vs. Adam Wainwright (2:15 PM ET)
The Yankees’ biggest trade deadline acquisition will make his debut in pinstripes on Sunday after missing a few days while attending to a family matter. He has a 3.18 ERA for the season, in 104.2 innings, while striking out 109 hitters. He missed a couple of starts in July with right shoulder inflammation, but is now healthy and ready to go.
The 40-year-old Wainwright remains as good as ever. The ageless wonder has a 3.11 ERA in 21 starts and 130.1 innings. After getting trounced on July 22 against the Cincinnati Reds (seven earned runs in 5.1 frames) he has bounced back nicely with just one run allowed in 14 innings over his last two starts. Sunday’s will be only his second game against the Yankees in his career.