wrigley right field bleachersComing into tonight, the Chicago Cubs have won nine straight games for just the fourth time this century.

Which has raised their playoff and World Series odds to all new heights.

If they can pull of a couple of wins this weekend, they’ll put some very serious – and perhaps, final – nails in the coffin of the Cardinals’ divisional hopes.

Trying to ensure that outcome tonight is Cubs lefty Jon Lester. He takes the mound after back-to-back excellent starts against Seattle (6.0 IP, 4H, 0ER, 2BB, 7Ks) and Oakland (7.0 IP, 6H, 2ER, 0BB, 8Ks), combining for a 1.38 ERA (2.28 FIP). He’ll pitch to David Ross tonight, as usual, while Willson Contreras takes a break on the bench.

Opposing Lester for the Cardinals is righty Carlos Martinez. Martinez has mostly gotten the results (3.29 ERA) this season, but his peripherals (3.85 FIP, 3.98 xFIP) look quite a bit worse, as his strikeout rate has now fallen under 20.0%. More importantly, however, he’s had fairly outrageous lefty/righty splits here in 2016.

In 63.0 innings against right-handers, Martinez has basically been lights-out (.228 wOBA); however, in his 68.1 innings against lefties, Martinez has allowed over 100 more points of wOBA (.330 wOBA). The same goes for his career: versus lefties (.336 wOBA), versus righties (.265 wOBA). So, the Cubs have stacked the lineup with six lefties (if you include Jon Lester), with only Kris Bryant, Addison Russell, and David Ross batting from the right side. Let’s see if they can take advantage (and makeup for the fact that Miguel Montero isn’t in there catching Lester).

The Cubs will be without Pedro Strop in this one, as Justin Grimm returns to take Strop’s spot on the roster.

First pitch is at 7:05.



Game Info

Chicago Cubs (71-41) at St. Louis Cardials (60-54), 7:05 CT on CSN-C, MLBN (out-of-market only) 670 The Score

Game Thread and Series Preview

Your game thread is down in the comments, so let’s have some good, clean (safe-for-work) fun this afternoon.

The Series Preview lives hereThe Lineup Discussion lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Cubs: Jon Lester (L): 2.93 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 3.54 xFIP; 3.50 K/BB

versus

Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (R): 3.29 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 3.98 xFIP; 2.30 K/BB



St. Louis Cardinals Lineup:

  1. Matt Carpenter, 1B
  2. Stephen Piscotty, CF
  3. Matt Holliday, LF
  4. Brandon Moss, RF
  5. Yadier Molina, C
  6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
  7. Jedd Gyorko, 3B
  8. Greg Garcia, 2B
  9. Carlos Martinez, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup:

  1. Dexter Fowler, CF
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Addison Russell, SS
  6. Jason Heyward, RF
  7. Chris Coghlan, LF
  8. David Ross, C
  9. Jon Lester, P

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