WASHINGTON — The run of righthanders who have clogged the strike zone and confounded the Cardinals in the past week began where the Cardinals would like it to end Monday night in the nation's capital.
For the second time in five games, the Cardinals will face Washington Nationals starter Joe Ross.
This past week at Busch Stadium, Ross walked the leadoff hitter to start the game and then held the Cardinals scoreless through six innings. He scattered three hits, and he did not walk another batter. More than 71 percent of the pitches he threw were strikes, and he finished that game with five strikeouts and an approach that mirrored by two more righthanders in Philadelphia.
Consider the lines from the past three righthanded starters the Cardinals have faced:
• Ross, RHP: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 Ks, 1 BB
• Zach Eflin, RHP: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 6 Ks, 0 BB
• Aaron Nola, RHP: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 Ks, 0 BB
Combined that trio has a 0.55 WHIP against the Cardinals in the past week, and they've struck out 21 in 22 innings pitched. Not since Ross walked Tommy Edman to start Wednesday's game at Busch has a righthanded starter walked a Cardinal.
Fitting for the venue: A referendum is coming.
With a second look in such a short window against Ross, the Cardinals and their coaches will have a chance to reveal how quickly and successful they adjust to the approach Ross used against them last time. It's a litmus test of sorts on the scouting report and how the Cardinals adapt.
They've already shown one of their answers.
The lineup is getting a twist.
Rookie Dylan Carlson and infielder Matt Carpenter are swapping spots, moving Carlson up to fifth in the lineup and nudging Carpenter, who struck out three times against Nola on Sunday, down. Manager Mike Shildt has said that having Carlson bat in the lower third of the lineup was a sign of the Cardinals' depth. That is their planned depth. It has not been manifested depth. He also wanted to have balance in the lineup after three consecutive righthanded hitters from Nos. 2-4, so a lefty broke up the group, especially against a righthanded starter.
Carlson offers that as a switch-hitter.
Here is the Cardinals lineup:
1. Tommy Edman, RF
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
3. Nolan Arenado, 3B
4. Yadier Molina, C
5. Dylan Carlson, CF
6. Paul DeJong, SS
7. Matt Carpenter, 2B
8. Justin Williams, LF
9. Jack Flaherty, RHP
Some injury updates coming from the pregame media session:
• Tyler O'Neill could join the team as early as Friday for the start of the home stand. He hit a home run in a sim game, Shildt said.
• Harrison Bader has advanced to taking batting practice.
• Miles Mikolas could be as much as a month or five weeks away from returning to the rotation. Mikolas has advanced in his throwing but he's yet to throw breaking balls to hitters. He must do that in a live batting practice session and then he will enter into a more traditional throwing program, akin to the final three weeks or 24 days of spring training to build arm strength.
The Cardinals are looking for their second quality start of the season in their 16th game of the season, and opening day starter Flaherty is also seeking his second quality start of the season. To date, Flaherty is the only starter to get an out in the sixth inning.
The Nationals have had to rearrange their pitching plans too because they placed Stephen Strasburg on the injured list with shoulder inflammation. The Cardinals thumped Strasburg in their only win of the Nationals series at Busch, and the righthander was seen massaging and rubbing his right shoulder just outside of the visitors' dugout.
The Nats initially insisted that he was fine and that the drop in velocity Strasburg had that game was not alarming. He's on the 10-day IL within the week.
The Nationals' lineup:
1. Trea Turner, SS
2. Juan Soto, RF
3. Josh Bell, 1B
4. Kyle Schwarber, LF
5. Josh Harrison, 2B
6. Starlin Castro, 3B
7. Yan Gomes, C
8. Victor Robles, CF
9. Joe Ross, RHP
Coverage throughout the evening from Washington at StlToday.com.