Yankees vs. Cardinals: Series preview, likely pitchers

The Yankees, predictably, are no longer playing at a 120-win pace. As a result, they can no longer say they have the best record in baseball: at 70-33, that honor goes to the Los Angeles Dodgers. That doesn’t mean the 70-36 Yanks are suddenly a bad ball club, even after going 18-18 in their last 36 games. They remain an elite team and will look 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 Cardinals 56-48 are very much in contention for a playoff spot. In fact, they’re only half a game behind the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central standings. They would have been among the finalists for superstar outfielder Juan Soto, but he of course ended up with the San Diego Padres.

The Cards got a rotational assist to navigate the second half and try to secure their playoff spot, bringing in Jose 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 very first time.

Friday: Nestor Cortes vs. Dakota Hudson (8:15 p.m. ET)

Cortes isn’t the sub-2.00 ERA pitcher he was at the start of the season, but has established himself as a mainstay at the top of the rotation. He pitched in the All-Star Game, has a 2.53 ERA for the season (in 106.2 innings), and racked up 111 punches and a 1.02 WHIP. He’s 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, however, at 44/54, and his FIP is much higher at 4.62. He’s drawing fewer batters than ever, and the Yanks offense could be a tough game for him. He has never faced them in his career.

Saturday: Domingo German vs. Jordan Montgomery (7:15 p.m. ET)

After allowing five runs in three innings in his first start of the year against the Houston Astros, Germ├ín gave up four in 9.2 frames against the New York Mets and Seattle Mariners. His 6/10 BB/K ratio indicates he’s still not fully “back” and will face a strong team tomorrow.

Montgomery will make his Cardinals debut on Saturday; Fate is so strange 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 hasn’t been exactly sharp lately, but remains a perfectly solid starter for any contender with his 3.69 ERA for the season and his mark of 3.94.

Sunday: Frankie Montas vs. Adam Wainwright (2:15 p.m. ET)

The Yankees’ biggest acquisition on trade time will debut in the stripes on Sunday after missing a few days while tending to a family business. He has a 3.18 ERA for the season, in 104.2 innings, while striking out 109 batters. He missed a few starts in July due to inflammation in his right shoulder, but is now healthy and ready to go.

Wainwright, 40, remains as good as ever. The ageless wonder has a 3.11 ERA in 21 starts and 130.1 innings. After being beaten on July 22 against the Cincinnati Reds (seven earned runs in 5.1 frames), he rebounded well with only one run allowed in 14 innings in his last two starts. Sunday’s game will only be his second game against the Yankees in his career.

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