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Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals preview, Friday 5/31, 7:15 CT

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The Cubs meet their division rivals in St. Louis for the first time in 2019.

Erik Williams-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game is one of six this year that is being produced by MLB Network for broadcast over Facebook. Further details below. It’s blacked out in the Cubs and Cardinals market territories, but it should be available everywhere else.

For the 2019 season, the partnership between Facebook Watch and MLB will produce social-first, interactive broadcasts for six out-of-market games, one every month of the regular season. If you live outside the Cubs or Cardinals market territories, you can access the game via MLB Live on Facebook Watch. Information on how to access the games on Facebook Watch is available here. More TV details for tonight’s game are below.

Notes:

  • If the Cubs hit two home runs tonight, that will make nine straight multi-homer games for the team. That would tie the major-league record, which has been accomplished five times, most recently by the 2016 Cardinals... so it would seem appropriate to do it in their ballpark!
  • More on home runs: The Cubs have hit 51 home runs this month, the most in any calendar month in franchise history, surpassing August 2004 and August 2017 (48 homers), with one day to go in May 2019.
  • 2019 is the 128th season of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry. In the previous 127, the Cubs have won the season series 56 times, lost the season series 56 and split the other 15 seasons. (H/T: Ed Hartig)
  • The Cubs are 16-11 in May with one game remaining, and a victory tonight would give the team at least 17 wins in May for just the 13th time ever and the third time in the last 20 seasons. The 2008 squad was 18-11 in May and the 2016 team was 18-10. (Those wound up as pretty good years, as you’ll recall.)
  • Yadier Molina will miss this series:

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

As usual, Willson Contreras is not catching Yu Darvish.

Cardinals lineup:

Yu Darvish, RHP vs. Miles Mikolas, RHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Yu Darvish’s overall numbers from his last start — seven innings (plus two hitters in the eighth), 12 hits, six runs — don’t look that great. But Darvish’s teammates praised him for gutting it out through that long, and he was dialing his velocity up to 97 in the seventh inning. I have this sense that Darvish is about to break out and have a good run of starts, and why not begin tonight?

Darvish’s season walk rate is still too high (6.2 per nine innings), but he’s striking out 11 per nine, which is fifth-best in the National League for qualified starters. The walk rate is much better over his last three starts, just five walks in 18⅓ innings (2.45 per nine innings).

His start vs. the Cardinals May 4 at Wrigley Field wasn’t very good, but he’s improved considerably since then. I think the Cardinals will see a much different Darvish tonight. This is his first-ever start at Busch Stadium.

Miles Mikolas has not been nearly as good this year as he was in his first year in St. Louis, where he finished sixth in Cy Young voting. He’s had some good starts this year, to be sure, and has thrown seven innings in three of his last four starts. The other one of those four, the Rangers knocked him out of the game before the third inning.

Mikolas led the major leagues in best walk rate per nine innings in 2018 (1.3) and it’s nearly as good (1.4) this year. So the Cubs should look to put the ball in play.

He made four starts against the Cubs last year and posted a 1.38 ERA and 1.038 WHIP. Cubs hitters are batting .231 (18-for-78) against him with one home run (Javier Baez), but Cubs hitters managed just three walks in 26 innings against Mikolas in 2018.

Today’s game is on NBC Sports Chicago. As noted above, you can also watch tonight on Facebook (outside the Cubs and Cardinals market territories). The Facebook broadcast is being produced by MLB Network and the announcers will be Scott Braun, former Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster and Jon Morosi.

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 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.