Early May series necessarily carry only so much importance. But, whatever that range, this one is at the very top. The very, very top.
The Cubs and Cardinals come into this series as the top two teams in the NL Central right now, but each is coming off a very different series of games …
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs managed to win Friday’s game against the Brewers, otherwise they’d be riding a four-game losing streak into this series. As it stands, the Cubs have lost three of four, including the last two against the Brewers, and are undoubtedly playing their worst ball of the young season. That doesn’t mean things can’t change in this series, of course.
The Cardinals, by contrast, are likely flying high, having swept the Pirates with all three games going to extra innings. Pirates fans have gotta be tearing their hair out. For now, the Cardinals stand at 18-6, the best record in baseball, and 4.5 games ahead of the Cubs.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Monday, May 4 at 7:10 CT on CSN, ESPN.
- Tuesday, May 5 at 7:15 CT on WGN-9, MLBN.
- Wednesday, May 6 at 7:15 CT on CSN.
- Thursday, May 7 at 12:45 CT on CSN.
And, if you’re not in the blackout region, you can always watch on MLB.tv.
Expected Starters and Lineups
These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.
Starters: Travis Wood (3.04 ERA, 3.34 FIP; 4.33 K/BB), Kyle Hendricks (5.23 ERA, 3.27 FIP; 4.75 K/BB), Jon Lester (4.71 ERA, 2.36 FIP; 4.67 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (2.84 ERA, 2.75 FIP; 3.88 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Jorge Soler, RF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Starlin Castro, SS
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Miguel Montero/David Ross/Welington Castillo, C
- Addison Russell, 2B
Starters: Carlos Martinez (1.73 ERA, 4.43 FIP; 2.40 K/BB), Tyler Lyons (2015 debut), Lance Lynn (3.07 ERA, 2.04 FIP; 4.50 K/BB), John Lackey (3.69 ERA, 3.66 FIP; 2.45 K/BB)
- Jon Jay, CF
- Matt Carpenter, 3B
- Matt Holliday, LF
- Matt Adams, 1B
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Yadier Molina, C
- Kolten Wong, 2B
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Crazy fact of the day? Jake Arrieta’s excellent 3.88 K/BB is the worst K/BB among the Cubs’ five starting pitchers.
The Cubs’ bats are pretty much all quite cold, except for Anthony Rizzo, so that covers you there. The one you’ve probably noticed the most: Kris Bryant is hitting just .160/.276/.200 in his last seven games with a 37.9% K rate. The league adjusted quickly, and now the onus is back on him.
Would’ve been nice if Jon Lester were going in game two of this series rather than three. Then David Ross – who is not his personal catcher but totally is – would be starting against lefty Tyler Lyons rather than tough righty Lance Lynn.
About those extra-innings Cardinals wins – at least they were taxing on the bullpen. The Cardinals used seven of their eight relievers yesterday. They used six the day before. They used four the day before that. They used five the day before that against the Phillies (in a 9-3 win). The Cardinals have played 13 straight days coming into today, and they’re without Jordan Walden.
In other words, that bullpen’s gotta be toast. If the Cubs can make the starters work this week, they could put manager Mike Matheny is a very uncomfortable spot – not to mention get a crack at some tired relievers.
Carlos Martinez is very good, but that spread between his ERA and FIP has gotta give at some point, and it’ll start with some balls falling into play (.203 BABIP).
Matt Carpenter’s numbers this year are absolutely insane: .365/.431/.656. That’s a .292(!) ISO for a guy whose previous career high was .169. He’s already got half as many homers (4) as he had all of last year (8). It’s hard to see that level of power production – that kind of spike at age 29 – lasting all year. For now, it’s helped the Cardinals win a lot of games. Through 24 games, the guy has already been worth 1.8 wins, which, I mean, unbelievable.