Series Preview: Cardinals at Cubs, August 11 – August 14, 2016
The Cubs have been rolling lately, winning nine straight games, heading into this weekend series against the Cardinals.
We repeatedly hoped this long stretch of baseball at or around Wrigley Field would do wonders for the Cubs, and it appears it actually has (18-6 since the All-Star break).
After playing St. Louis for four this weekend, the Cubs will have an off-day on Monday, before a Tuesday double-header with the Brewers kicks off their four-game set at Wrigley Field. Following that series, the Cubs will finally head back out on the road, for nine games against the NL West (Rockies, Padres, and Dodgers).
We’re Going Streaking
The Chicago Cubs (71-41) have swept three straight series against the Angels, Athletics and Marlins, winning nine straight games in the process. They are a season-high 30 games over .500, and their divisional lead is a massive 12 games over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals (60-54) just won a series against the Reds, but that came after back-t0-back series losses to the Braves and the very same Reds. They’re 4-6 in their last 10 tries.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Thursday, August 11 at 7:05 CT on CSN-C, MLBN (out-of-market only) 670 The Score
- Friday, August 12 at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, MLBN (out-of-market only) 670 The Score
- Saturday, August 13 at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, 670 The Score
- Sunday, August 14 at 7:08 CT on ESPN, 670 The Score
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.
- Jon Lester (2.93 ERA, 3.82 FIP, 3.54 xFIP; 3.50 K/BB)
- Jake Arrieta (2.59 ERA, 2.98 FIP; 3.45 xFIP; 2.86 K/BB)
- Kyle Hendricks (2.17 ERA, 3.34 FIP; 3.73 xFIP; 3.20 K/BB)
- John Lackey (3.56 ERA, 3.75 FIP; 3.71 xFIP; 3.60 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Jorge Soler, LF (or Javy Baez at 3B with Bryant in left)
St. Louis Cardinals
- Carlos Martinez (3.29 ERA, 3.85 FIP, 3.98 xFIP; 2.30 K/BB)
- Adam Wainwright (4.34 ERA, 3.33 FIP, 3.93 xFIP; 3.03 K/BB)
- Luke Weaver (MLB Debut)
- Mike Leake (4.79 ERA, 4.03 FIP, 3.75 xFIP; 4.36 K/BB)
- Matt Carpenter, 2B
- Stephen Piscotty, RF
- Matt Holliday, LF
- Brandon Moss, 1B
- Yadier Molina, C
- Jhonny Peralta, SS
- Jedd Gyorko, 3B
- Tommy Pham, CF
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Chicago Cubs – Pitching
The Chicago Cubs starting rotation is rolling deep right now, with four out of five starters rocking sub 3.00 ERAs:
Chicago Cubs have four starting pitchers w/ sub-3.00 ERAs:
Jon Lester – 2.93
Jason Hammel – 2.90
Jake Arrieta – 2.59
Kyle Hendricks – 2.17
— Michael Cerami (@Michael_Cerami) August 11, 2016
Of course, Jason Hammel won’t be going this weekend, John Lackey (3.56 ERA) will – and he’s been one of the most prolific starters in baseball this year. Moreover, he’s had the Cardinals’ digits all season. Through three starts (20 IP), he’s allowed just 6 runs (2.70 ERA) on 15 hits (.208 AVG, ) and 5 walks (.284 OBP) against 26 strikeouts. Hopefully, he can keep up the pace with the Cubs other three starters in this series, each of whom have been excellent lately.
Chicago Cubs – Offense
In the month of August, Willson Contreras is slashing .304/.385/.478 with an 11.5% walk rate and just a 15.4% strikeout rate. It’s hard to believe he’s been on the team for nearly two months now, but it’s extremely encouraging to see his production continue to bounce back, after the league makes adjustments. To a certain extent, anyone can come up and have a ton of quick success (Arismendy Alcantara, Junior Lake, Micah Hoffpauir, to name a few well-named examples) – sustaining it after adjustments is what defines a true Major Leaguer (with absolutely no disrespect to any of those players).
We’re still waiting for Addison Russell to really get going, but since the All-Star Break he does have a 97 wRC+ (.265/.326/.410). As we know, if he can just be a league average bat, he’d be a hugely valuable player, but I don’t think anyone should want to settle for that. His offensive potential – flashed every now and then – far exceeds that. Don’t be impatient, though, as he’s still just 22 years old. Kris Bryant debuted at 23!
St. Louis Cardinals – Pitching
Adam Wainwright is having a bit of an odd season. Although his results haven’t quite been normal (4.34 ERA), his peripherals are still fairly strong (3.33 FIP). And because he’s already thrown 143.0 innings this season, Wainwright has been worth 3.0 fWAR in the process. If he stays healthy and follows his projections, he’ll have his sixth 4.0+ fWAR season in the past seven years (2015 was the only miss and it was an injury shortened 28.0 inning year).
St. Louis Cardinals – Offense
Last Friday, Matt Carpenter returned from a strained right oblique injury that kept him sidelined since before the All-Star Break. Since returning, he’s slashed .278/.381/.611 with a walk rate (14.3%) greater than his strikeout rate (9.5%). Even with nearly a month missing, his 3.3 WAR is 15th best for position players in the National League. His .415 wOBA is tied for second best in all of baseball. He’s good at the offense.