The St. Louis Cardinals will try to dethrone the Milwaukee Brewers from atop the National League Central division in 2019, beginning the campaign on the Brewers’ home field for the first of a four-game set. Game time is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. EDT.
The forecast for Miller Park at game time is 52 degrees and mostly cloudy. If inclement weather should strike, Miller Park has a retractable roof. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Midwest and Fox Sports Wisconsin. Live streams can be viewed via Fox Sports Go and MLB.TV.
Storylines for this series besides an opportunity for one team to get an early leg-up on the competition in the NL Central race are plenty. St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt will be making his Cardinals debut after having been traded to St. Louis by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Cardinals recently signed Goldschmidt to a five-year, 130-million extension which will keep him in St. Louis through the 2024 season.
Keeping on the theme of Cardinals contract extensions is St. Louis’ Opening Day starting pitcher, Miles Mikolas. Mikolas finished sixth in the NL Cy Young vote in 2018 and will make his first-ever Opening Day start in his career Thursday. Mikolas agreed to a four-year extension his contract worth $88 million last week.
On Milwaukee’s side of extensions, infielder Mike Moustakas returns to the Brewers after having appeared in 54 games for Milwaukee in 2018. In the offseason, Moustakas inked a one-year deal for $10 million with the Brewers. On Thursday, he will make his first career start at second base, having spent all of his career up to this point at third base.
The Brewers also will have a new face behind the dish. Yasmani Grandal, who has spent the past four seasons catching for the Los Angeles Dodgers, is set to make his Milwaukee debut to receive Brewers’ starter Jhoulys Chacín. This will be Chacín’s first Opening Day start with Milwaukee, but third of his career.
Likely to make his Cardinals debut on Thursday, especially if St. Louis has a late lead, is left-handed reliever Andrew Miller. Miller was signed to a two-year, $25 million contract to become the headliner of the Cardinals’ bullpen, although it’s still uncertain if he’ll actually fill a traditional closer role.
This will also be the first Opening Day as a major-league manager for Cardinals manager Mike Shildt. Shildt managed the final 69 games of the 2018 season after St. Louis fired former manager Mike Matheny. The Cardinals went 41-28 under Shildt last season and Shildt finished fourth in the NL Manager of the Year voting.
On the flip side of new Opening Day experiences is St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina. Molina will be making his 15th consecutive Opening Day start behind the dish in 2019. There are questions as to how many innings Molina will catch this season due to his age (Molina turns 37 in July) and the fact that the number of games he has played has decreased steadily over the past three seasons due to injury issues. Last season that included a groin issue that required surgery.
When he’s on the field and healthy, it’s hard to replace the nine-time Gold Glove winner. Matt Wieters, who has spent much of his career with the Baltimore Orioles where he was an All-Star four times, has been promoted from Triple-A to back up Molina.
1) Lorenzo Cain, centerfield
2) Christian Yelich, right field
3) Ryan Braun, left field
4) Travis Shaw, third base
5) Jesús Aguilar, first base
6) Mike Moustakas, second base
7) Yasmani Grandal, catcher
8) Orlando Arcia, shortstop
9) Jhoulys Chacín, pitcher
1) Matt Carpenter, third base
2) Paul Goldschmidt, first base
3) Paul DeJong, shortstop
4) Marcell Ozuna, left field
5) Yadier Molina, catcher
6) Dexter Fowler, right field
7) Kolten Wong, second base
8) Harrison Bader, centerfield
9) Miles Mikolas, pitcher
If one of these teams is able to take three out of the four games they are scheduled to play, it will gain an early advantage in the standings for what’s argued to be the most competitive division in MLB. The race for the NL Central begins today.