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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview, Friday 5/12, 7:15 CT

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It's early, but this still feels like an important series.

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals media, at least, seems to think the team has turned the corner on the Cubs:

The Cubs are fourth in the NL Central and 2.5 games behind the Cardinals, with 128 games left in their schedule. Regardless, at this time it’s more about how a team is playing than where they are in the standings. There’s no doubt Matheny’s crew hit the reset button quite well since the lousy 3-9 start.

"I don’t know if you could read too much into the standings right now," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said. "But the way we played the first two weeks of baseball, if we had played the whole year that way it would have been disastrous. You flip the calendar to now and we can breathe a little bit."

On the other hand, the Cubs won two of three in St. Louis to open the season and back then, at least, looked like defending champions should. I'd like to see more play like that this weekend.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Schwarber LF, Bryant RF, Rizzo 1B, Zobrist 2B, Candelario 3B, Contreras C, Baez SS, Butler P, Almora CF

Addison Russell, still out of the lineup tonight.

Cardinals lineup:

Fowler CF, Pham LF, Carpenter 1B, Gyorko 3B, Molina C, Díaz SS, Grichuk RF, Wong 2B, Leake P

Dexter Fowler, we all love you, but please have a series just like the one you had against the Cubs in April (3-for-13, all singles, five strikeouts).

Eddie Butler vs. Mike Leake

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Eddie Butler faced the Cardinals, September 20, 2016 at Coors Field, things did not go well. He was pitching in relief that day and gave up six hits while recording only four outs.

But this is the new Eddie Butler, or so we're told. As I noted yesterday, he threw well in spring training this year and also at Triple-A Iowa. All we can do is hope that success continues.

Mike Leake has made six starts this year, all of them good-to-excellent. He's leading the National League in ERA, ERA+ and FIP, and has allowed just one home run in 40⅓ innings.

The last time he faced the Cubs, September 23, 2016 at Wrigley Field, they hit him pretty hard: seven hits, three walks and five runs in 3⅓ innings. Current Cubs are hitting .266 (47-for-177) against him with four home runs, two of those by Anthony Rizzo, who is 15-for-40 (.375) against Leake in his career.

Let's hope that kind of hitting is in evidence tonight.

Today's game is on CSN Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Chicago and St. Louis markets).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva El Birdos. If you do go there to interact with Cardinals fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2017 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used during 2016. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in the game's StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Get tickets to Cubs games from our partner StubHub here.

Discuss amongst yourselves.