Cubs Series Preview: The Redbirds Come to Town

Chicago Cubs (22-15) return home after a 10-game road trip with stops in Detroit, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. They managed to split the games but do still find themselves in first place of the NL Central.

Right behind them is the St. Louis Cardinals (14-14). The Cards are 3.5 games back and only have played 28 games this season. Cubs will face the Cards in a “5-games in 4 days” series beginning Friday.

The Cubs begin an eight-game homestand with hopes to build on their 12-8 home record. They have already faced the Cardinals this year and went 3-2 in the process. St. Louis did keep things close and outscored Chicago 21-19. There was only one game in which it was decided by more than three runs (a 9-3 Cardinals victory on August 19). This season, the Cardinals are 6-7 on the road and 5-8 against teams with a record better than .500.

Mound Matchups

  • Friday, 7:15 CT: RHP Yu Darvish (6-1, 1.47) vs. RHP Jack Flaherty (2-0, 1.93)
    • This is the best matchup of the series.
    • Yu Darvish is putting a Cy Young Award campaign and is the reigning NL Pitcher of The Month for August.
    • Darvish has won his last six starts. He has gone at least six innings in all of them while allowing one or zero runs. That is good for a 0.92 earned run.
    • Darvish went six innings, allowing eight hits, one earned run, and a walk but struck out seven Cards back on August 18.
    • Flaherty only made five outs in his start against the Cubs before being pulled. He allowed a leadoff home run to Ian Happ as the only run he gave up that afternoon. He had three strikeouts but had already reached 41 pitches in just 1.2 innings.
    • Flaherty has a 2.79 ERA (16 ER/51.2 IP) in 11 games (10 starts) vs. Cubs
      • 14 of his 16 earned runs against the Cubs have come at Wrigley (six starts). Flaherty’s ERA at Wrigley Field is 4.73.
    • Anthony Rizzo is 9 for 19 with a double, three home runs, six EBI, three walks, a hit-by-pitch, and two strikeouts against Flaherty.
  • Saturday, 4:15 CT: TBD vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (3-0, 2.65) vs. TBD
    • At 39-years-old, Wainwright has provided the Cardinals with more than most would at his age. He’s gone five or more innings in each of his five starts. Also, Wainwright has three starts of seven or more innings which includes a complete game in his last start.
    • Cubs fared well last season against Wainwright. They smashed five home runs and put up 16 runs in his five starts. He went 1-3 with a 5.27 ERA.
    • Notable career performances vs. Wainwright:
      • Kris Bryant– 8/29, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 7 K.
      • Ian Happ- 6/11, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, 3K.
      • Jason Heyward– 12/36, 2B, 2 3B, HR, 7 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K.
        • Went 5 for 9 with a triple, RBI, walk, and a strikeout in 2019 vs. Wainwright.
  • Saturday, Time TBD: TBD vs. RHP Kwang Hyun Kim (2-0, 0.83)- MAKEUP OF AUG 9
    • Four of the five games pitched by Kim have been starts. He started Game 1 of a doubleheader vs. the Cubs on August 17. His line: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R/ER, HR, 3 BB, K.
      • Happ is 1 for 2 with a home run and a strikeout against Kim.
      • Rizzo has walked in both plate appearances vs. Kim.
  • Sunday, 6:08 CT: LHP Jon Lester (2-1, 5.11) vs. RHP Dakota Hudson (1-2, 2.77)
    • Lester’s starts have been a coin flip this season. He has either pitched brilliantly or failed miserably. This season, Lester has four starts allowing zero or one run but also has three with more than five runs. He gave up eight earned runs on August 21. vs. Chicago White Sox.
    • Lester has made it through five innings in all but one start this season.
    • Last two season vs. the Cards, Lester is 3-2 (six starts) with an underwhelming 6.08 ERA.
    • Hudson has a 2.89 ERA (3 ER/9.1 IP) with 10 walks and 15 strikeouts in four games (two starts) against the Cubs.
    • He does also have an 8.10 ERA (3 ER/3.1 IP) in two games (one start) at Wrigley Field.
    • Kyle Schwarber is 2 for 3 with two doubles, three walks, and a strikeout when facing Hudson.
  • Monday, 3:10 CT: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 3.78) vs. RHP Johan Oviedo (0-1, 4.30)
    • Hendricks suffered the Game 1 loss of doubleheader to the Cardinals back on August 17. He allowed three earned runs, walked one, and struck out five batters in 6.1 innings.
    • Hendricks is 34-20 with a 2.61 ERA in 85 games (84 starts) at Wrigley Field.
    • Oviedo made his MLB debut vs. Cubs on August 19. He tossed five innings while allowing two hits and two earned runs, walking two, and striking out four batters.
      • Caratini is 1 for 2 with two RBI. Happ is 1 for 2 with a triple.

Who’s Hot

  • Willson Contreras– 5/13, 2B, RBI, 5 R, BB, 2 K in PITT series
  • Ian Happ- 6/13, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, 6 K in PITT series.
  • Kyle Hendricks- 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R/ER, HR, 2 BB, 6 K in PITT series.
  • Duane Underwood- 2 G, 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, K in PITT series.

Who’s Not

  • Javier Báez- 2/15, 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 3 K in PITT series.
  • Kris Bryant- 2/11, R, 2 K in PITT series.
  • Jon Lester- 5.1 IP, 8 H, 5 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 K in PITT series.
  • Alec Mills– 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R/ER, HR, BB, 2 K in PITT series.

Final Thought

Just 23 games remain this season for the first-place Chicago Cubs. So far, their record put them in a comfortable position for continued success. But questions do remain surrounding nearly every area of the ballclub.

One area worth looking into is their hitting. The Cubs have been subpar at the plate with flashes of pop at times. Their 361 strikeouts currently lead Major League Baseball. For this team to make a run at the World Series title, the lineup needs to get it together.

The 1-4 Cubs hitters are hitting .220 with an OPS of 0.758 through 37 games.

Featured Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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