While the Cubs have not met the probably-unrealistic expectations which come with following a 103-win World Series championship season, they will be the toughest foe the Cardinals have faced in September, a month in which a team generally expected to settle for a Wild Card run has managed to keep pace with the Rockies and Brewers and remain viable playoff contenders.
While there have been several injuries to position players, including Jedd Gyorko and Dexter Fowler, reserves have stepped up admirably for the club. Harrison Bader has performed well in the outfield after spending most of the season in Triple-A, and reserve outfielder Jose Martinez has found a new role as backup first baseman in what has been a breakout season for the 29-year-old.
Even when not necessarily facing the toughest lineups, the biggest headline of the recent Cardinals run has been the starting pitching. Youngsters Luke Weaver and Jack Flaherty, particularly the former, have impressed, though neither is scheduled to pitch this weekend at Wrigley.
With Adam Wainwright on the Disabled List (and very ineffective in his last pre-DL starts), the Cardinals will line up Carlos Martinez, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn. After a few subpar starts, Martinez has avoided surrendering home runs and appears to be in peak form. Wacha isn't quite as consistent as Martinez but is capable of strong outings, such as last Sunday against the Pirates. Lynn has arguably been lucky in 2017, as his ERA is far lower than his peripherals, but he has generally been a steady starter throughout his career.
I've hedged my bets in every one of these previews by picking a split or 2-1 series outcome, and I will continue that tradition here, though the closeness in records suggests the teams are indeed quite evenly matched. I'll give the slight edge to the Cardinals this weekend, as they have the biggest pitching matchup edge on Friday (Martinez vs. Lackey). The Cubs have a smaller edge on Saturday and the Cardinals may have a slight edge Sunday, although the Cubs are certainly hoping Jose Quintana picks this weekend to fully establish that he has regained his pre-2017 form.
This doesn’t really relate to the Cardinals specifically, but to Jose Quintana, who will start Sunday. Quintana is the only pitcher to make at least 10 starts for both the Cubs and White Sox in the same season.
Friday: John Lackey, RHP (11-11, 4.65 ERA, 1.284 WHIP, 5.25 FIP) vs. Carlos Martinez, RHP (11-10, 3.33 ERA, 1.180 WHIP, 3.78 FIP)
Saturday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (6-5, 3.35 ERA, 1.198 WHIP, 4.14 FIP) vs. Michael Wacha, RHP (12-7, 3.99 ERA, 1.356 WHIP, 3.69 FIP)
Sunday: Jose Quintana, LHP (11-11, 4.25 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 3.87 FIP) vs. Lance Lynn, RHP (11-7, 3.01 ERA, 1.160 WHIP, 4.71 FIP)
- Jose Quintana’s numbers above include his 18 starts with the White Sox. With the Cubs: 11 starts, 6-3, 3.88 ERA, 1.169 WHIP, 3.65 FIP.
Times & TV channels
Friday: 1:20 p.m. CT, ABC7 Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and St. Louis markets)
Saturday: 3:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago Plus
Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, TBS (outside Chicago and St. Louis markets)
The Cubs have played four series against the Cardinals this year. They have split six games in St. Louis, winning two of three the first time, then losing two of three. At Wrigley they’re 5-1 vs. the Cards — a sweep in June, two of three in July.
The Cubs will take two of three here.
How many games will the Cubs win against the Cardinals?
This poll is closed