Oh how things can change so quickly in the game of baseball.
Flip back to two weeks ago. The Braves and Cardinals both sat atop their respective divisions and were firing on all cylinders. They were among the league leader's in runs scored, their pitching staffs held the opposition down more times than not and they were, above all, healthy.
Now, two weeks later, both the Cardinals (and especially) the Braves are struggling to keep their heads above water.
St. Louis is 6-11 since the Braves came to town on May 11. Atlanta is 7-10.
These are undoubtably two of the better teams in baseball, but they do not come without flaw and a knack for getting key players hurt. Lance Berkman will miss 2-3 months with a knee injury, and Chipper Jones will not return for at least two more weeks. Carlos Beltran has been phenomenal this season, but he's been having knee issues of his own.
The Braves expect to get Brian McCann (flu symptoms) and Freddie Freeman (eyes) back for the series, but their return date is still unknown.
Not a whole lot has changed with the Cardinals in terms of personnel these last two weeks. They simply have slumped both at the plate and on the mound.
St. Louis still has a phenomenal lineup headlined by Rafael Furcal, David Freese and Matt Holliday, and Yadier Molina continues to have a great season behind the plate. Their pitching staff is still strong, and the return of Adam Wainwright (who will miss the series, fortunately) has been huge for their club.
Pitching Matchups & Start Times:
Monday, 1:10 p.m. EDT - Tommy Hanson (5-3, 3.12 ERA, 3.65 FIP) vs. Lance Lynn (7-1, 2.54 ERA, 3.41 FIP)
Tuesday, 7:10 p.m. - Randall Delgado (2-5, 4.53 ERA, 4.08 FIP) vs. Jake Westbrook (4-3, 3.38 ERA, 3.30 FIP)
Wednesday, 7:10 p.m. - Tim Hudson (3-2, 4.12 ERA, 3.17 FIP) vs. Kyle Lohse (5-1, 2.90 ERA, 3.25 FIP)