There are reasons why the St. Louis Cardinals have dropped seven of their first 11 games this season. Star pitcher Adam Wainwright is out for the season, Albert Pujols is batting only .200 with one home run in his first 45 at bats and Matt Holliday missed seven games.
But perhaps the major reason why the Cardinals are off to such a slow start is because they just aren’t very good.
Things may not get better either as the Cardinals begin a four-game road series Thursday at 7:10 p.m. PT against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The opening pitching matchup is Jaime Garcia versus Hiroki Kuroda, who has a 1.42 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 19 career innings against St. Louis.
The Dodgers have excellent starters, closer Jonathan Broxton has five saves in the team’s first 11 games and outfielder Matt Kemp was leading the majors with a .472 batting average while also stealing a league-high seven bases.
The Cardinals had scored three runs or fewer in seven of their first nine games before breaking through for some big run totals at hitter-friendly Chase Field against Arizona.
The Cardinals haven’t faced many top-flight pitchers either going against Tim Stauffer, Clayton Richard, Dustin Moseley, Charlie Morton, James McDonald, Kevin Correia and Barry Enright to name a few.
The only pitcher better than Kuroda the Cardinals have dealt with was Matt Cain, who got the best of Garcia this past Saturday, 3-2, as a 145 home favorite. The combined five runs went ‘under’ the 6 ½-run total.
Garcia gave up just one run and struck out nine in six innings while not factoring in the decision. The 24-year-old lefty is 1-0 with a 0.60 ERA this year after posting the National League’s fourth-best ERA last season at 2.70.
There’s a lot of pressure on Garcia with Wainwright gone for the season. Garcia tired at the end of last year with a 3.53 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in his last 11 starts.
Garcia’s career ERA is 1.88 runs higher on the road than at Busch Stadium. He’s not going to get a lot of defensive help either from the left side of his infield with David Freese at third and Ryan Theriot at shortstop.
Garcia went up against the Dodgers once last year and didn’t receive a decision in an 8-4 victory last July 16. Garcia allowed two runs on eight hits with a walk and four strikeouts while pitching only 3 1/3 innings. Garcia was a 130 home favorite against Chad Billingsley.
The Cardinals won four of seven from the Dodgers last year, but were swept in all three games at Dodger Stadium. St. Louis has lost in its last five visits to Dodger Stadium.
St. Louis was 17-6 versus National League West foes through Tuesday.
The Dodgers are 6-0 the past six times they’ve been ‘chalk.’ They also were 11-6 in their last 17 games going into Wednesday.
However, Los Angeles has infield injuries. Shortstop Rafael Furcal is expected to be out four-to-six weeks after suffering a broken thumb this past Monday.
Third baseman Casey Blake missed his third straight game on Tuesday because of a deep thigh bruise suffered this past Saturday night.
The 36-year-old Kuroda is 2-0 this year with a 1.72 ERA. The right-hander was 11-13 last year, but had a respectable 3.39 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He also fanned 159 batters while issuing 48 walks.
The Dodgers are 5-1 the past six times Kuroda has pitched at home versus a foe with a losing record.
The ‘under’ is 9-2-1 the past 12 times the Cardinals have gone against a right-handed starter entering Wednesday.