Series Preview: Cardinals v. Cubs, July 6 – July 8, 2015

cardinals logoRevenge is a dish best served at Wrigley Field.

Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to say those things without a hint of knowing deprecation?

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs dropped three straight in St. Louis before doing very much what you would hope they would do against the Mets and Marlins: they won five of six. Maybe you would have liked to have seen a little more offense, but the wins all count.

The Cardinals went in the other direction after their sweep of the Cubs, losing four in a row to the White Sox and Padres before taking the last two from San Diego. They’ve still got five more wins than any team in baseball.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, July 6 at 7:05 CT on WGN-9, ESPN.
  • Tuesday, July 7 at 12:20 CT on WGN-9, MLBN.
  • Tuesday, July 7 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Wednesday, July 8 at 7:05 CT on CSN, ESPN.
  • 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.

    Cubs

    Starters: Jon Lester (3.74 ERA, 3.44 FIP; 3.32 K/BB), Jake Arrieta (2.80 ERA, 2.73 FIP; 4.78 K/BB), TBA, Jason Hammel (2.89 ERA, 3.10 FIP; 5.78 K/BB)

    Lineup:

    1. Dexter Fowler, CF
    2. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
    3. Kris Bryant, 3B
    4. Miguel Montero, C
    5. Starlin Castro, SS
    6. Jorge Soler, RF
    7. Chris Coghlan, LF (I’d rather see him and Montero flipped, and that might be the case)
    8. Pitcher
    9. Addison Russell, 2B

    Cardinals

    Starters: John Lackey (3.30 ERA, 3.44 FIP; 2.98 K/BB), Tim Cooney (5.40 ERA, 6.69 FIP; 3.00 K/BB), Tyler Lyons (5.09 ERA, 4.39 FIP; 4.00 K/BB), Michael Wacha (2.66 ERA, 3.17 FIP; 3.48 K/BB)

    Lineup:

    1. Tommy Pham, CF
    2. Matt Carpenter, 3B
    3. Jhonny Peralta, SS
    4. Jason Heyward, RF
    5. Yadier Molina, C
    6. Kolten Wong, 2B
    7. Randal Grichuk, LF
    8. Mark Reynolds, 1B
    9. Pitcher

    Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

    I recently wrote at BPW that, with the Cubs being swept in St. Louis, their realistic focus has to become the Wild Card, rather than the division. While I still think that’s true, the Cubs could completely change things with a four-game sweep in this series. They’d be just 4.5 games out, well within striking distance. How can I say that and also say that the Wild Card remains the realistic focus? I don’t think a four-game sweep – including a doubleheader – is all that likely. It’s just so hard to pull off.

    I do think the Cubs can take three of four, however, and I’d be thrilled to see it.

    In the throes of a deep, deep slump – who isn’t on the Cubs’ offense? – Addison Russell’s line has sunk to .229/.294/.361 (81 wRC+) with a 31.5% strikeout rate. The Cubs have no other realistic options at second base right now, and I doubt they would be sending him to AAA any time soon even if they did. This is on-the-job training, and struggles for a 21-year-old are to be expected. Russell is still as good as he ever was. If he stays healthy, I like him to have a very solid second half.

    Ditto just about all of that for Jorge Soler, who is still just 23, and has precious little professional experience at any level.

    Oh, remember that part where you thought I was rhetorically asking “who isn’t [slumping] on offense?” It wasn’t rhetorical. The answer is Chris Coghlan, who is hitting .325/.464/.468 over the past month. Is it reactionary to say he should probably be leading off for the Cubs? Maybe a little. But only a little.

    Anthony Rizzo is in a fake slump since the start of that last Cardinals series – he’s hitting just .107/.257/.143 during that stretch, but his BABIP is just .120, and his strikeout rate is just 11.4%. He’s fine.

    I don’t much feel like extolling the virtues of the Cardinals in this space. So I won’t.

    written by

    Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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