Series Preview: Cubs at Cardinals, June 15 - June 17, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Cardinals, June 15 – June 17, 2018

Chicago Cubs

Although the biggest series of the week (Brewers) might already be behind us, there’s never anything boring about a weekend in St. Louis.

And of course, this weekend series is going to be especially nuts because the Cardinals are fairly close to the Cubs in the standings, and both teams are sending out what could be considered their three best starting pitchers.

I mean, seriously, look at these matchups:

Friday: Lester v. Wacha
Saturday: Hendricks v. Martinez
Sunday: Quintana v. Flaherty

It’s probably going to be a frustrating, but exciting weekend. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the Cubs can’t fall more than a 0.5 game behind the Cardinals in the standings no matter what happens over the next three days, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that (it did last time (+ two walk-offs and a Jason Heyward injury), and it wasn’t fun).

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (38-27) Just dropped their first series since being swept in a two-gamer by the Indians back on May 23rd. Their offense has tightened up a bit, but the pitching staff has been as good as ever.

The St. Louis Cardinals (36-30) Just dropped a series against the Padres at home, which has to sting. Before that, they took two out of three from the Reds, but lost a series to Miami. They have some serious talent on their roster – and their starters this weekend are formidable – but they’ve been just okay lately, going 5-5 over their past 10.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Friday, June 15 at 7:15 CT on ABC-7, MLBN (out of market), 670 The Score
  • Saturday, June 16 at 7:15 CT on FOX, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, June 17 at 7:05 CT on ESPN, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jon Lester (2.22 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 2.44 K/BB)
  • Kyle Hendricks (3.48 ERA, 4.50 FIP; 3.21 K/BB)
  • Jose Quintana (4.09 ERA, 4.35 FIP; 2.12 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – Javy Baez
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Addison Russell
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber/Ben Zobrist
  • CF – Albert Almora/Ian Happ
  • RF – Jason Heyward/Ben Zobrist

Unavailable: Eddie Butler, Yu Darvish, Carl Edwards Jr.

Milwaukee Brewers

Probable Pitchers:

  • Michael Wacha (2.47 ERA, 3.40 FIP; 3.80 K/BB)
  • Carlos Martinez (2.50 ERA, 3.63 FIP; 1.68 K/BB)
  • Jack Flaherty (2.96 ERA, 3.55 FIP; 4/36 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Yadier Molina
  • 1B – ?*
  • 2B – Jedd Gyorko
  • 3B – Matt Carpenter
  • SS – Yairo Munoz
  • LF – Marcell Ozuna
  • CF – Tommy Pham
  • RF – Dexter Fowler/Harrison Bader

Unavailable: Matt Bowman, Paul DeJong, Luke Gregerson, Greg Holland, Tyler Lyons, Alex Reyes, Dominic Leone, Adam Wainwright, Jose Martinez

*The Cardinals have placed starting first baseman Jose Martinez on the paternity list, so he will miss this weekend’s series. They’ve called up Luke Voit in his place, but I suspect Matt Carpenter will slide over to first Jedd Gyoro covers third and, perhaps, Kolton Wong plays second base, all things equal this weekend.

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Kyle Hendricks is the guy to watch this weekend, but not entirely for good reasons. While his last start was perfectly fine (5.0 IP, 3H, 1 ER, 2BB, 4Ks) he hasn’t quite been himself over the past three/four games. Indeed, he’s given up a homer in four straight and has walked a total of 8 batters over his past 22.0 IP, which isn’t terrible (9.0%), but isn’t Hendricks. I don’t want to harp on Hendricks, but I hold him to a higher standard, because I’m beginning to think he’s actually the Cubs’ best starter right now. So let’s see some better command, a few more whiffs, more balls on the ground, and nothing out of the park.

Cubs Player: Kris Bryant. He got his two days off. He’s had slumps like this before, but has come quickly out of them. This is it. He’s having a big weekend. No stats necessary.

Cardinals Pitcher: Carlos Martinez is undoubtedly a very good pitcher who has, at times, frustrated Cubs hitters and fans alike, but something has been up lately. Since returning from the DL (right lat strain), Martinez has walked 12 batters in just two games (7.2 IP) and even reportedly threw softer “on purpose” in his first start back. His velocity returned to normal mid-90s levels in his second start back, but the command was even shakier in that one so we’ll see. There’s a chance, now that he’s had plenty of time back, that he’ll look like his usual self, but maybe the Cubs can get a little advantage by facing him at a vulnerable time.

Cardinals Player: Jedd Gyroko sure looks ice-cold right now, slashing .179/.207/.321 in the month of June with a 3.4% walk rate and 20.7% strikeout rate, HOWEVA, he does have a 50% hard-hit rate during that stretch with just a .190 BABIP. So I think it’s fair to say he’s been extremely unlucky. With Jose Martinez on the DL, were sure to see a lot of Gyorko this weekend, one way or another, so be careful. He’s been smoking the ball.

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Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami