St. Louis Cardinals: Cubs vs. Cards series preview
By Matt Graves
The St. Louis Cardinals’ first series against the Cubs begins Monday in Chicago. Who is pitching? When are the games? Will the Cards take down the Baby Bears?
Starting Monday, the Cubs and your St. Louis Cardinals will play their first series of six total this year. So far the Cubbies are 7-7 and have hit the ball pretty well. Kris Bryant leads them in the majority of offensive categories highlighted with a .352 average and an 1.104 OPS.
Flipping to the pitching side, they look less sound. After their first turn through the rotation where both Jon Lester and Yu Darvish were roughed up, the rotation has struggled to produce consistently. Jon Lester leads the rotation with an ERA of 3.71. The St. Louis Cardinals thus far have been more consistent on the pitching side, with a team starter’s ERA of 3.38 compared to the Cubs’ 3.89.
The Cubs are coming off a series with the Braves where they have split the first two games of the series after a miraculous 8th inning comeback on Saturday. The Cardinals swept the Reds. Let’s look at the match ups.
Game 1: Adam Wainwright vs Tyler Chatwood, Monday at 6:05pm CT
This first game is honestly a wash in my opinion. Both starters are coming in with an 0-2 record and an ERA hovering around five. In his last start, Waino had his best one yet. He gave up three runs and struck out four over seven innings on Wednesday against the Brewers. Unfortunately, he took the loss when the Cardinals’ bats fell asleep.
Chatwood is coming from a start where he threw five innings and gave up five runs with seven strikeouts. Chatwood lost against the red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates, which is understandable because it seems like everyone is this month. He will look to turn it around against our hot/cold lineup.
The important thing to watch here is going to be Waino’s fastball velocity and his ability to get swings and misses on his curveball. Last outing, Waino threw 31 curveballs and got zero (ZERO!?!) swings and misses on it. Not a great sign for a pitcher’s best pitch. If, and I do mean if, Waino can sneak his fastball past the dangerous Cubs hitters for five innings and escape with less than four runs given up, I think the Cards can win against Chatwood.
Game 2: Michael Wacha vs Jon Lester, Tuesday at 7:05 CT
Ah the great headcase who can’t throw to first. Other than the painful memory of Lester getting his first hit against John Lackey a few years ago, I enjoy watching the Cardinals play against him because of his inability to throw over.
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Wacha is coming in trying to show some consistency after a couple up and down starts. He is coming in off of a solid five inning, five strikeout, three run performance Thursday against the Reds. Wacha has been solid, but uninspiring and I would love to see some more of the dominance he showed in the spring against a tough lineup.
Lester is comes into this game after giving up four runs over five innings to the Pirates. Lester’s year so far has shown that age is starting to catch up with him as the 34-year-old has been far less consistent.
The key for the Cardinals this game is going to be tagging Lester for a bunch of runs before he gets pulled. The Cubs’ bullpen is more daunting and scoring early may be our only chance for this game.
I want to see Wacha show more consistency the first two times through the order this game. At this point in his career, it is just a given that the third time through the order is just not good for Wacha. No need to hate the guy for it, but just accept its going to get worse the third time.
Game 3: Luke Weaver vs Kyle Hendricks, Wednesday at 1:20 CT
This final game of the series looks to be the best pitching match up of all the games. Weaver has been dominant so far with an ERA of just 2.08. He is coming from a great start against the Reds where he gave up two runs over six innings with seven strikeouts. The next step for Weaver is just to go deeper in games. This theme stretches across the entire rotation, however. Longevity is his next area to improve.
Hendricks comes in with an ERA of 3.71 and has been the Cubs’ second best starter. He is coming off a strong start of six innings of two run ball against the Pirates. Hendricks is a sinker heavy pitcher who is very good at getting ground balls. His ground ball percentage for his career is 49.4%. His sinker does only average a tick under 87 mph so he won’t blow anyone away.
This game has the most potential of all of games to become a pitching duel. This will be a big test for Weaver as this is the best lineup he has faced all year. That in no way means he can’t shut them down for seven innings, but it will definitely be a test. This game is definitely winnable if the Cardinals can hit Hendricks.
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My heart always says we are going to win every game of the series, but in reality, who knows. I am not going to act like I know what is going to happen. I do know what needs to happen for a good outcome. The Cardinals can take two of the three games if the starters can just put up quality starts and the bats don’t go completely silent. What do you think will happen in this series?