The Cardinals offense has been the story of the NLCS so far. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it’s a missing persons story. If you can find their offense, please notify the authorities. Time is running out.
The Nats, as I’m sure you know, lead this bad boy 2-0 after both Aníbal Sánchez and Max Scherzer shut the St. Louis bats down completely, taking no-hitters deep into each game. While the Cardinals offense was not world-beating in 2019, it wasn’t as bad as that. They’ve simply been dominated by one good-but-capable-of-occasional-greatness starting pitcher and one genuinely great starting pitcher. It happens. It just can’t happen again lest this series end before everyone has actually settled into their seats for the dang thing.
The Game: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals
The Time: 7:38 PM Eastern
The Ballpark: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
The Channel: TBS
The Starting Pitchers: Jack Flaherty (Cardinals) vs. Stephen Strasburg (Nationals)
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the Nationals have another great starting pitcher going tonight in Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg has been pretty darn good so far in the postseason, making three appearances — two starts and one in relief — allowing four runs on 11 hits in 15 and striking out 21. The Nationals won all three of those games. He’s obviously capable of shutting down opposing offenses.
Jack Flaherty has been impressive himself this postseason, taking a hard luck loss against the Braves in Game 2 of the NLDS but coming back to pitch six innings of one-run ball as the Cardinals clinched the series in a Game 5 romp last Wednesday. He, you may have been told two or three times already, had a 0.91 ERA in the second half of the season.
That’s all well and good, but the Cardinals need some offense and they need it fast. They have only four hits in hte series’ first two games and two of them — and their only rub batted in — have come off the bat of pinch hitter José Martínez. We’ll get the lineups for this game in a couple of hours. My guess is that it’ll look a lot different than the one manager Mike Shildt trotted out in Games 1 and 2.
There are no literal must-wins until a team is on the brink of elimination, but this one feels like a virtual must-win. As it is, they have to take two of three in a hostile environment just to make it back to St. Louis. Best get that first one out of the way as soon as possible lest the virtual must-wins turn into literal ones.