Although nobody on St. Louis' roster has any major league experience with scheduled starter Jacob Turner, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny is quite familiar with the Detroit Tigers' prized pitching prospect.
Turner is expected to be recalled from the minors to make his season debut for the Tigers in Wednesday afternoon's series finale against the Cardinals and one of his former high school coaches.
After Justin Verlander led Detroit (33-35) to a 6-3 victory in Tuesday's opener, St. Louis' Jake Westbrook shut down the Tigers a night later in a complete-game 3-1 win.
Turner is slated to be recalled from Triple-A Toledo, where he went 2-1 with a 3.43 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 19 walks in 42 innings, to make a spot start for the injured Drew Smyly (blister).
Turner, the No. 9 pick in the 2009 draft, entered spring training as one of the top candidates for the No. 5 spot in Detroit's rotation, but was shut down because of shoulder tendinitis. Although the 21-year-old right-hander didn't make the major league roster out of spring training and his current stint with the Tigers could be short-lived, he is expected to be a staple in the team's rotation in the coming years. None of which comes as a surprise to Matheny.
The Cardinals skipper was one of the coaches on Turner's high school baseball team, Westminster Christian Academy, in suburban St. Louis.
"As a high school kid, you could see that he was ready for this," Matheny told the Cardinals' official website. "Then you start adding in the baseball talent to go along with it and he's a special kid. He's got a lot of exciting things ahead of him if he just keeps working and keeps his head like it always has been."
Turner, who grew up a Cardinals fan, made his major league debut last season, and in three starts went 0-1 with an 8.53 ERA.
He'll be working with catcher Alex Avila, who is expected to come off the disabled list from a right hamstring strain. The timing is impeccable with backup catcher Gerald Laird exiting Wednesday's game in the fifth inning with left hamstring cramping. It is uncertain if the Tigers, who announced Wednesday that closer Jose Valverde has a sprained right wrist, will put Laird on the DL.
While Detroit is banged-up, St. Louis is sputtering offensively, plating three runs or fewer in nine of its last 11 games. The Cardinals (35-34), who scored one of their runs Wednesday on an error by Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, have left 24 runners on base while going 4 for 25 (.160) with men on in the last three games.
Although the offense, which entered June leading the NL in runs with an average of 5.3 per game, is scuffling, Carlos Beltran can hardly be blamed for the lack of production. Beltran has hit safely in the last 12 games, batting .514 with three homers and six runs in the last nine.
Kyle Lohse (6-2, 2.98 ERA) will take the ball in the finale for St. Louis trying to bounce back from his first loss in six weeks.
Lohse gave up 10 hits and two walks in seven innings against Kansas City on Friday, but only allowed three runs. Still, Lohse, who had yielded a run, five hits and two walks over 13 2-3 innings in his first two June starts, was saddled with 3-2 loss, his first defeat since May 4.
He has a 12.67 ERA in his last four starts against the Tigers, but he hasn't faced them since 2008.
The only player on the Detroit roster Lohse has faced since 2009 is Prince Fielder, who is 3 for 15 with five walks.