Allow me to put this series into context: if the Cubs win every single game they have left this year against the Cardinals, they’d still be 2.5 games behind the division leader. If they lose even one of those six games? They’d be 4.5 back, and would have only 21 other games during which to make up the deficit. Not impossible, because, hey, the Cardinals could finally hit that skid that they haven’t hit all season. But tough.
So, let’s just say: the Cubs need to sweep this series if they want to hold onto an outside shot at the division. They probably need to sweep the final six games against the Cardinals, but we’ll get there when we get there.
(And all of this pretends that the Pirates don’t even exist. The Cubs have seven left against the Pirates, though, and if the Cubs win enough remaining games to even make the conversation about the Cardinals relevant the rest of the way, I’m assuming they won at least four of those seven games against the Pirates, and are right there, as well.)
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs responded well to their tough West Coast trip, winning the finale there, and then taking four of their next six. That includes a weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks.
The Cardinals lost their weekend series against the Pirates, though every time they avoid a sweep from here on out is effectively a win. They’ve won 10 of 14, overall.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Monday, September 7 at 1:15 CT on WGN-9.
- Tuesday, September 8 at 7:15 CT on CSNN.
- Wednesday, September 9 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: Dan Haren (5.87 ERA, 6.08 FIP; 3.43 K/BB), Jason Hammel (3.55 ERA, 3.65 FIP; 4.63 K/BB), Jon Lester (3.59 ERA, 3.07 FIP; 4.02 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Austin Jackson, RF
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Miguel Montero, C
- Javy Baez, 2B (we’ll see if that’s becoming a regular thing)
- Addison Russell, SS
Starters: Lance Lynn (2.80 ERA, 3.28 FIP; 2.79 K/BB), Michael Wacha (2.69 ERA, 3.27 FIP; 3.35 K/BB), Carlos Martinez (3.04 ERA, 3.30 FIP; 2.82 K/BB)
- Matt Carpenter, 3B
- Stephen Piscotty, LF
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Yadier Molina, C
- Brandon Moss, 1B
- Kolten Wong, 2B
- Jon Jay, CF
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
It’s unclear if the Cubs will have Kyle Schwarber available at any point this series (rib cage strain), and the Cubs have not wanted to tip their hand.
Kris Bryant is up to .267/.368/.487, and his 134 wRC+ is 19th best in baseball, 7th best in the NL.
The Cubs have to travel to St. Louis for an early game today, but the Cardinals had a late-night game (Cubs had a day game), so they actually get the shorter turn-around today. Maybe that helps a bit in a matchup that otherwise looks tough.
The Cardinals just got back Randal Grichuk, but it sounds like he might only be available to run the bases.
Maybe they don’t even need him, given that youngster Stephen Piscotty is hitting .333/.365/.526, the best line of his professional career (because guys totally improve on their minor league numbers when they get to big leagues). The .403 BABIP, of course, has a lot to do with that (4.8% BB rate versus 21.0% K rate), but he’s done it over 167 plate appearances. It’s flukey, but it’s not entirely a fluke. Natch.
Brandon Moss was having a rough go with the Indians this year, but a trade to the Cardinals later and he’s hitting .262/.361/.464 (125 wRC+).
The Cardinals got some rest for Michael Wacha and Carlos Martinez over the past couple weeks, but you knew they weren’t going to miss the Cubs.