wrigley stands crowdThe Cubs can further dent the Cardinals’ Wild Card chances today, which is a good or bad thing, depending on your feelings about an impending playoff match-up. Me? The Cardinals probably scare me least of the three contenders, so I don’t necessarily care if they win a Wild Card spot. Others, I understand, don’t want to see the Cubs matched up in the NLDS with the Cardinals because a loss there would be disproportionately frustrating, as compared to a loss to the Giants or Mets. I get it. I’m not sure I agree, but I get it.

Jason Hammel is coming off of a great start against the Reds, and he actually looked pretty good against these Cardinals the start before that. He just got bit, as he too often does, by the long ball. Joe Maddon has said that Hammel is not in the midst of an audition for the playoffs, and, while I agree that his performance in these last couple starts shouldn’t alone dictate his postseason roster status, I do think they will provide some information. As things stand, if the Cubs go with just four starters and seven relievers, Hammel is probably on the outside looking in. But a lot can happen in these final nine games. Hammel pitching well today does nothing except confirm that the Cubs have options. It’s never bad to have options.

On the other side of the bump, it’s impressive fireballing youngster Alex Reyes, who will strike a ton of guys out, walk a ton of guys, and also get a bunch of pop-ups as he works that fastball at the top of the zone. He has looked like a guy who is naturally hard to square up, so the Cubs may just have to let him work himself into trouble today if they want to have maximum success. If you can separate yourself from the Cubs and the results for a bit, try to just enjoy how easy Reyes cranks it up there. He’s incredibly talented, and if that control tightens up in the coming years? Oof. He’ll haunt the Cubs a bit.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (98-55) at St. Louis Cardinals (80-73) – 12:05 CT on FOX, 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.

The Series Preview lives hereThe Lineup Discussion lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Cubs: Jason Hammel (R): 3.56 ERA, 4.40 FIP, 4.29 xFIP; 2.73 K/BB


Cardinals: Alex Reyes (R): 1.03 ERA, 2.76 FIP, 4.06 xFIP; 2.22 K/BB

St. Louis Cardinals Lineup:

  1. Matt Carpenter, 2B
  2. Stephen Piscotty, RF
  3. Brandon Moss, LF
  4. Jhonny Peralta, 3B
  5. Matt Adams, 1B
  6. Yadier Molina, C
  7. Randal Grichuk, CF
  8. Aledmys Diaz, SS
  9. Alex Reyes, 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. Jorge Soler, LF
  8. Willson Contreras, C
  9. Jason Hammel, P

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