The Cardinals are coming to town.
At the beginning of the year, I doubt many expected this three game series against the Cardinals in mid-September to carry much weight, and yet, here are. The Cubs have a three game lead in the division, and they’re playing the Cardinals in three straight starting, well, now-ish.
Starting for the Cardinals today is Carlos Martinez, and we covered him quite a bit in the Series Preview:
… it seems the HR spike has reached Martinez this year, as his 16.0% HR/FB ratio is well above his career average before this season (9.2%). And on top of that, his fly ball rate has increased from 26.2% to 29.8% this season. Moreover, his hard-hit rate has spiked from a really quite excellent 27.9% before 2017, up to a more mediocre 31.5% this season.
On top of that, I want to add that Martinez’s ground ball rate has fallen immensely this year and he’s gotten the benefit of a .279 BABIP, which is well below his career mark before this season (.310 BABIP). He’s beatable. Oh, and he has just a 4.08 ERA in 81.2 innings pitched against the Cubs in his career.
John Lackey is standing opposite Martinez this afternoon, and that should be no surprise, as the Cubs have bent the schedule to get him in front of the Cardinals a lot over the past two seasons. But let’s side-step the Lackey/Cardinal stats for now, because I want to talk about his last two games:
v. Braves: 7.0 IP, 3H, 0ER, 0BB, 5Ks
v. Brewers: 7.0 IP, 4H, 2ER, 2BB, 9Ks
After a couple of bad starts (result-wise, at least) against the Reds and Phillies, Lackey has bounced back in a big way lately. Hopefully, he keeps that streak up and lays some pressure on the Cardinals.
Big game today, guys. How are you feeling?
Chicago Cubs (80-66) at St. Louis Cardinals (77-69) – 1:20 CT on ABC-7, 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 today.
Cubs: John Lackey (R): 4.65 ERA, 5.26 FIP, 4.56 xFIP; 2.98 K/BB
Cardinals: Carlos Martinez (R): 3.33 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 3.56 xFIP; 3.17 K/BB
St. Louis Cardinals:
- Matt Carpenter, 3B
- Tommy Pham, LF
- Paul DeJong, SS
- Jose Martinez, 1B
- Yadier Molina, C
- Stephen Piscotty, RF
- Kolton Wong, 2B
- Harrison Bader, CF
- Carlos Martinez, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Ben Zobrist, 2B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Willson Contreras, C
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Jon Jay, CF
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
- John Lackey, P