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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Friday 5/3, 1:20 CT

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The Cubs are going for their fifth win in a row.

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Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs after 28 games:

2019: 16-12
2018: 16-12
2017: 16-12

You’re detecting a pattern here, I presume. The good news is that this year’s team appears to be on an upswing. After the Cardinals’ loss to the Nationals Thursday evening, the Cubs trail the Cardinals by 2½ games going into today’s action. That means a Cubs series sweep would put them in first place. I’m not predicting that, only saying that this is an important series, even for this early in the season.

It’s also the Cubs’ first look at nemesis Paul Goldschmidt this season. Over Goldschmidt’s eight seasons with the Diamondbacks, he torched Cubs pitching at a .353/.471/.699 pace, with 14 home runs in 43 games. And that’s with playing the Cubs for just two series and six or seven games a year. Now he’ll face the Cubs 19 times a year for the next six seasons, as he signed a long-term extension with the Cardinals.

So the Cubs have their work cut out for them today and over the weekend. Fortunately, the Cubs have been playing good ball and also have some good hitters who are hitting their strides.

No rain today, but it is going to be chilly and raw at Wrigley Field, with temperatures in the upper 40s.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Cardinals lineup:

Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Jack Flaherty, RHP

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Hendricks had his best start of the year vs. the Diamondbacks at Wrigley April 19 — seven shutout innings with 11 strikeouts. Then the D-backs got another look at him a week later and... you don’t want to know.

I’m going to write that off as “they got too many looks at him” and I think Kyle will be back on track today. Small sample size, but:

Kyle at home: two starts, 1.50 ERA, 1.000 WHIP
Kyle on road: three starts, 8.78 ERA, 2.475 WHIP

So, maybe this homestand will be good for Kyle. He’ll start two of the 10 games, assuming the rotation holds.

Against current Cardinals: .259 (51-for-197) with five home runs.

Jack Flaherty’s six starts so far this year have included three very good ones, one mediocre one and two pretty bad outings, the same mixed bag he’s had since he came to the big leagues in 2017. He’s certainly got the talent and the fastball, but the results have been uneven.

In his last start he threw seven shutout innings against the Reds, so there’s that.

Oh, and since we’re talking home/road splits:

Flaherty at home: four starts, 1.88 ERA, 0.833 WHIP
Flaherty on road: two starts, 11.57 ERA, 2.571 WHIP

This matchup seems favorable to the Cubs. Again, small sample size caveats apply.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. This game is also being carried by streaming service ESPN+ — sign up for ESPN+ here. ESPN+ games are blacked out in the participating teams’ home markets. If you have “cut the cord,” NBC Sports Chicago games can be streamed in the Cubs’ market territory via Fubo. Sign up for Fubo here.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

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The 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. 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.

Discuss amongst yourselves.