We are only about a month into the 2021 MLB regular season, but the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals will wrap up their season series already on Thursday in St. Louis. The Phils are up 4-2 overall and 2-1 in this series and are -120 favorites on the William Hill Sportsbook MLB odds for the finale behind ace Aaron Nola. However, star Bryce Harper is not in the lineup after taking a pitch off his face in Wednesday's 5-3 win.
Harper walked off the Busch Stadium field on his own accord in the sixth inning Wednesday with some blood on his nose after taking a 97-mph fastball from reliever Genesis Cabrera right in the mush. It clearly was an accidental pitch, although with Thursday being the season finale the Phillies might get some sort of retaliation. Especially considering that Cabrera then hit the next batter after Harper, Didi Gregorius, leading to warnings for both benches.
In a video Harper posted to social media late Wednesday, Harper said his CT scans "came back good." He's off to an MVP-caliber start, batting .321 with six homers, 10 RBIs, a .448 on-base percentage (ninth in MLB) and OPS of 1.063 (eighth).
It's the right-hander Nola (2-1, 2.84) on the mound for the Phillies. He is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in seven career starts vs. St. Louis but has been much worse in two road starts this season (5.52 ERA) than at home (1.37). No Cardinal hits him well career; Paul Goldschmidt is just 3-for-14 with five strikeouts.
St. Louis, which put top catcher Yadier Molina on the injured list this week, goes with lefty Kwang Hyun Kim (1-0, 4.15). He pitched in Philadelphia on April 17 and allowed three runs over three innings but was much better last time out, allowing one run with a career-high eight strikeouts in 5.2 innings vs. Cincinnati. Kim's 2.08 ERA is 15th-best among Cardinals in their first 10 career games.
Since 2018, the Cardinals have gone 7-12 while not winning a series against the Phillies. Prior to that, St. Louis took the previous six straight series by going 15-5 from 2015-17.
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