Here Comes a Five-Game Series Against the St. Louis Cardinals

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Here Comes a Five-Game Series Against the St. Louis Cardinals

Chicago Cubs

I can’t believe it’s June 2 and the Cubs haven’t faced the Cardinals yet this season. But I also can’t believe our first taste is going to be a FIVE game series at Wrigley Field with a double-header on Saturday. Oh, and I also can’t believe it’s 2022 and we’re still playing against Yadier Molina, Adam Wainwright, and Albert Pujols. I bet they each have a self-portrait hanging in an attic somewhere that ages instead of them.

In any case, there’s a light at the end of this tunnel, with an off-day on Monday followed by two matchups against the Orioles and another off-day next Thursday. But boy do we have a lot of baseball to play before then!

The Cubs have been playing a little better lately, sparked by the joy and talent of Christopher Morel. But the Cardinals are no slouches this season and one-run games continue to plague the Cubs. Let’s see if they can get back in this thing.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (21-29) are actually 12-11 since their losing streak ended on May 8, and that includes a staggering SEVEN one-run losses. A few of those break the other way and maybe the Cubs record looks a little better.

The St. Louis Cardinals (29-21) have won 7 of their last 10 games, including a three-game sweep of the Padres. They currently hold the second wild card slot, just one game behind San Diego. But there’s a lot of baseball to play.

Hot or Not and What to Watch

Christopher Morel has been on base in each of the 15 games in which he’s appeared this season. Overall, he’s slashing .268/.373/.464 and he appears to be the Cubs new leadoff hitter against both lefties and righties.

Oh, he also walked off the Brewers last night, in case you missed it.

Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson are both starting in this series, and the latter is even sticking in the rotation thereafter. Given their importance to the future, and the quality of the Cardinals lineup, this will be a fun test for both of them. Justin Steele gets the biggest billing with the Sunday night baseball matchup on ESPN against Adam Wainwright.

Willson Contreras has been hitting the ball SO HARD lately. His overall average exit velocity (93.7 MPH) ranks 9th in MLB and he has two balls hit over 115 MPH in his last two games, alone. His overall production (156 wRC+) remains among the top-15 in MLB.

Ian Happ is in a bit of a slump over his last 37 PAs, but he’s still taking his walks. I think he’s trying to strike a balance between the extra early season contact and the overall lack of power. Because the power has actually returned here lately (.212 ISO in this stretch), but the whiffs have started to climb.

Paul Goldschmidt has been on FIRE these last two weeks, slashing .467/.537/.956 (301 wRC+) in his last 54 plate appearances. He is going to be an enormous problem all weekend. Nolan Gorman has also been scorching the ball (223 wRC+), albeit over a smaller sample.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that no other Cardinals batter has been better than a 111 wRC+ over the past few weeks. So, I guess … pick who you attack, Cubs pitchers. It may mean the game.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Thursday, June 2 at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score,
•   Friday, June 3 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, June 4 at 12:05 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, June 4 at 6:15 CT on FOX, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, June 5 at 6:08 CT on ESPN, 670 The Score

Pitching Probables

Game 1: Matthew Liberatore (L) vs. Keegan Thompson (R)
Game 2: Miles Mikolas (R) vs. Marcus Stroman (R)
Game 3: Patrick Naughton (L) vs. Matt Swarmer (R) …?
Game 4: Angel Rodon (R) vs. Mark Leiter Jr. (R) …?
Game 5: Adam Wainwright (R) vs. Justin Steele (L)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Alfonso Rivas
•   2B – Nick Madrigal
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Nico Hoerner
•   LF – Ian Happ
•   CF – Christopher Morel
•   RF – Jason Heyward/Rafael Ortega/Clint Frazier?
•   DH – Frank Schwindel

Injured/Unavailable: Michael Hermosillo, Yan Gomes, Seiya Suzuki, Jonathan Villar, Sean Newcomb, Wade Miley, Drew Smyly, David Bote, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Codi Heuer, Alec Mills, Manny Rodriguez, Ethan Roberts

St. Louis Cardinals

•   C – Yadi Molina
•   1B – Paul Goldschmidt
•   2B – Tommy Edman
•   3B – Nolan Arenado
•   SS -Edmundo Sosa
•   LF – Juan Yepez
•   CF – Harrison Bader
•   RF – Brendon Donovan
•   DH – Albert Pujols

Injured/Unavailable: Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson, Steve Matz, Jordan Hicks, Alex Reyes, Jack Flaherty

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -6
Cardinals: +47

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.40
Cardinals: 4.74

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.52
Cardinals: 3.80

Author: Michael Cerami

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