Red Sox vs Cardinals pitching matchups: Boston has intriguing stats in their favor

Boston Red Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates
Boston Red Sox v Pittsburgh Pirates / Justin K. Aller/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox ended on a sour note Thursday as they dropped another game to the Tampa Bay Rays, losing the four-game series. The Sox now sit at 22-22 as they head to Busch Stadium in St. Louis to take on the Cardinals.

Last year's series with the Red Birds was quite a memorable one (for the wrong reasons) as they came into Fenway and won three straight games in dominant fashion. This weekend, the Sox will have the opportunity to pay them back for 2023 like they did to the Pittsburgh Pirates a few weeks ago.

Here is how the weekend pitching matchups are expected to shake out.

Red Sox vs Cardinals pitching matchups: Can Boston bounce back after Rays series?

Game 1, Friday: Brayan Bello vs. Kyle Gibson

Whenever Brayan Bello is on the mound, the Red Sox know they have a very good chance of winning, as they're now 5-1 in his starts.

On the season, Bello is pitching to the tune of a 4-1 record with a 3.13 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, and 2.6 BB/9. His FIP is a little elevated at 4.40, but that should come with the territory of being a heavy ground ball pitcher like he is.

When he's on the road this season, Bello is 2-0 with a 0.88 WHIP and has allowed six earned runs through 16 innings.

This is a good matchup for the 25-year-old. The Red Birds have never faced him, and on the season they hold the 12th-highest ground ball rate as a team (43%) as well as the seventh-highest soft contact rate (16.1%).

On the flip side, the Sox will face a familiar foe in Kyle Gibson, who allowed just four earned runs last year in 10 innings pitched against the Red Sox as a member of the Baltimore Orioles.

Gibson's numbers this year could be a little deceiving. He's 2-2 with a 3.67 ERA, but his WHIP is elevated at 1.20, his FIP jumps to 4.42, and his expected ERA is a staggering 5.42, suggesting luck has been on his side for the most part.

At Busch Stadium this year, Gibson is 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.

Gibson can be a problem for Boston, though, despite some wonky numbers he's been posting. He's got a career 3.41 ERA against the Sox on top of the success he had last season with Baltimore.

This is a tough matchup, but Bello and the Red Sox should have the slight edge.

Game 2, Saturday: Kutter Crawford vs. Miles Mikolas

Kutter Crawford pitching on the road has been something to behold in his short career. He holds an eye-popping 3.47 career road ERA in contrast to a 5.04 career ERA at Fenway. This season has been slightly different since he's been good everywhere, but even so, Crawford holds a 1.59 ERA away from Fenway in 2024.

In totality, the right-hander is 2-2 on the season with a 2.24 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, and 2.65 FIP. He does have brief experience against these Cardinals where he allowed four earned runs in four innings pitched, but that instance came back in 2022 before he became a full-fledged starter like he is right now.

Miles Mikolas has had himself a tough go at it since the beginning of 2023. Things have unfortunately not cleared up for him as he's entered the 2024 season. Mikolas holds a 3-5 record with a whopping 6.19 ERA, 6.6 K/9, and 4.57 FIP. At Busch Stadium this year, he's 0-2 with 13 earned runs allowed in 15.1 innings of work, which is good for a 7.63 ERA.

Just for comparison, Patrick Corbin held an 0-3 record, 6.45 ERA, 6.0 K/9, and 4.45 FIP when the Sox faced him last Friday. The two are very similar, making this a game where the Red Sox should have a pretty big advantage.

That didn't go so well for the Sox in that Patrick Corbin-Tanner Houck matchup, but hopefully this time around, they'll be able to capitalizae on such a stark difference in respective starting pitchers. Mikolas is typically right around the plate, so that should make way for the Sox hitters to put some good swings on the ball. This is the game to win in this weekend's set.

Game 3 on Sunday: Nick Pivetta vs. TBD

Hopefully the Red Sox have won the first two games of this set by now, because Sunday could get a little rocky for them.

Nick Pivetta has been good enough in his brief action this season as he's 1-2 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, and 0.9 BB/9 through 20.2 innings of work. His very elevated 5.04 FIP suggests the home run ball has not been kind to him so far since he's tallied six long balls allowed (a very bad 2.6 HR/9).

Overall though, Pivetta has been fine despite the injury he's battled through in the early going. The daunting thing about this series finale is that the Cardinals' starter is TBD as of this moment, but lurking in the shadows is Sonny Gray, who last pitched on Tuesday. That means Sunday would be his next scheduled day to pitch.

If that's the case, the Red Sox will be facing a probable All-Star in Gray, who's pitching to a 5-2 record, 3.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, and 2.77 FIP this year. At Busch Stadium, he's also 2-1 with just two earned runs allowed in 18.1 innings of work.

His history against the Red Sox is shaky, to say the least, with a 1-7 record and 6.20 ERA. However, last year with the Minnesota Twins, he allowed just four earned runs in 10 innings against the Sox. This is someone who can mow down this Red Sox lineup right now.

The other option the Cardinals could go to is their swing man in Matthew Liberatore, who's filled in a bit for Steven Matz the last couple of weeks.

Liberatore is 1-1 this season with a 4.56 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 6.5 K/9, 3.8 BB/9, and 4.04 FIP. It'll still be a tough third game, regardless, but arguably much more manageable against someone like Liberatore than Gray.

If this winds up Pivetta vs. Gray, the Red Sox should probably lose that game. If it winds up Pivetta vs. Liberatore or even someone else not on the radar currently, the Sox's chances improve drastically.

This weekend should tentatively go the Red Sox's way for a 2-1 series victory.