It's Must-Win Time: Cardinals at Cubs, September 19-22nd, 2019

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It’s Must-Win Time: Cardinals at Cubs, September 19-22nd, 2019

Chicago Cubs

There’s not much I can say here in this intro that Brett didn’t cover in his Scoreboard Watching post earlier this morning.

You already know what’s on the line:

Realistically, with just six games left after this weekend (even with three of them against the Cardinals), the Cubs have to win three of four to shrink that gap to just 1.0 game. That would at least give them the chance to tie atop the standings by the end of the season if they can win the final series in St. Louis, regardless of what happens in the intervening series (Cubs against the Pirates, Cardinals against the Diamondbacks).

Split this four-game series? Then you have to sweep in St. Louis if you don’t get any help. *Lose* this four-game series? Division hopes are done.

If the Cubs lose this series, they’re toast. If they split, it’ll require some magic. If they win, it’ll be tight. If they sweep … well, I wouldn’t even let yourself dream on that outcome. The only positive thing I can think of is … At least it’s not out of their control, right? I guess that makes it both more better and worse in different ways, but there’s something about owning your own fate that makes this experience tolerable.

Of course, I think it’s supposed to be enjoyable, but let’s not get greedy. This is the 2019 Chicago Cubs. Tolerable is the best we get.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (82-70) just dropped two of three to the Reds, because that’s just what they do this season. Now, they basically must take at least 3 of 4 from the Cardinals if they hope to have a shot at this division. Sigh.

The St. Louis Cardinals (85-67) managed to take two out of three from the Nationals after dropping two out of three to the Brewers. Thanks for nothing, sh*tbirds.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Thursday, September 19th at 6:15 CT on FOX, 670 The Score
  • Friday, September 20th at 1:20 CT on ABC-7, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, September 21st at 1:20 CT on WGN, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, September 22nd at 1:20 CT on NBCSCH, TBS, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jack Flaherty (R) v. Kyle Hendricks (R)
Game 2: Michael Wacha (R) v. Jose Quintana (L)
Game 3: Dakota Hudson (R) v. Cole Hamels (L)
Game 4: Miles Mikolas (R) v. Yu Darvish (R)

Chicago Cubs

  • C – Willson Contreras/Victor Caratini
  • 1B – Victor Caratini/Willson Contreras
  • 2B – Ben Zobrist
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Nico Hoerner
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber
  • CF – Jason Heyward
  • RF – Nicholas Castellanos

Unavailable: Craig Kimbrel (could be activated today), Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Anthony Rizzo, Xavier Cedeno, Brandon Morrow, Allen Webster

St. Louis Cardinals

  • C – Yadier Molina
  • 1B – Paul Goldschmidt
  • 2B – Kolten Wong
  • 3B – Tommy Edman
  • SS – Paul DeJong
  • LF – Marcel Ozuna
  • CF – Harrison Bader
  • RF – Dexter Fowler

Unavailable: Brett Cecil, Tony Cingrani, Jordan Hicks, Lane Thomas

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Cole Hamels MUST be better on Saturday than he has been over his last three starts (11.0 IP, 8ER, 16H, 11BB, 13Ks). Actually strike that, over his last NINE starts: 6.39 ERA, 5.84 FIP. If he’s not, the Cubs will have a very tough time winning that game and that leaves the margin for error everywhere else razor thin.

The good news is that the Cardinals have a 95 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season (20th in MLB). Maybe that’ll help.

Cubs Player: Willson Contreras MUST put the team on his back. With Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo out, I’m looking to Contreras, not Bryant, to be the lifeblood of this offense this season. Fortunately, he’s been a bit of a monster since returning from the injured list: .308/.357/.744 (174 wRC+). The dude has 2 doubles and 5 homers in his last 42 plate appearances. That’s really, really good. He needs to keep it up this weekend.

Cardinals Pitcher: Jack Flaherty. 

Cardinals Player: Yadier Molina has actually been the best Cardinals hitter over the past 30 days (107 PAs for him): .309/.393/.511 (139 wRC+). He’s walking more than he’s striking out, he’s hitting for power, and he even stole a base. I really don’t want this season to end because of Yadier Molina. Keep an eye on him, Cubs.

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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