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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Cardinals series preview

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It’s the final home series of the year for the 2021 Cubs.

Photo by Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Cardinals are the hottest team in baseball.

How are they doing it? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The usual pixie dust, I suppose.

For more on the Cardinals, here’s Josey Curtis, manager of our SB Nation Cardinals site Viva el Birdos.

The Cardinals are hot. There’s no other way to put it. Entering this series at Wrigley Field, the Cardinals have won 12 straight games and 14 of their last 15 games. With their hot streak — paired with the downfalls of the Reds and Padres — the Cardinals are 4½ games ahead of the next closest team (currently the Phillies) for the second National League Wild Card spot.

The Cardinals acquired Jon Lester and J.A. Happ at the trade deadline, and their veteran presence and dependability has made a world of difference in this pitching staff. Paul Goldschmidt has been riding high for the last two months, and Tyler O’Neill was the Player of the Week for his recent efforts. The team will get another boost this series, as Jack Flaherty is slated to start the second game of Friday’s doubleheader. It’ll be Flaherty’s first Major League outing since August 13th.

St. Louis controls their own destiny. Sure, the trailing teams could go on a winning streak of their own; but if the Cardinals keep winning, no one will stop them.

Fun fact

During their current 12-game winning streak, the Cardinals have outscored their opponents 77-35 and have been behind only four times: for half an inning in the first game of the streak against the Reds, for three innings in the fourth game of the streak against the Mets, for four innings in the seventh game of the streak against the Padres and for six innings Thursday against the Brewers.

Probable pitching matchups

Friday (Game 1): Justin Steele, LHP (3-3, 4.20 ERA, 1.400 WHIP, 5.61 FIP) vs. J.A. Happ, LHP (9-8, 6.02 ERA, 1.479 WHIP, 5.41 FIP in 28 starts overall. 4-2, 4.33 ERA, 1.237 WHIP, 4.97 FIP in nine starts with Cardinals)

Friday (Game 2): Zach Davies, RHP (6-11, 5.49 ERA, 1.562 WHIP, 5.37 FIP) vs. Jack Flaherty, RHP (9-2, 3.08 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, 4.10 FIP)

Saturday: Adrian Sampson, RHP (1-2, 2.84 ERA, 1.184 WHIP, 5.69 FIP) vs. Jon Lester, LHP (7-6, 4.59 ERA, 1.470 WHIP, 5.47 FIP in 26 starts overall. 4-1, 4.02 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 5.54 FIP in 10 starts with Cardinals)

Sunday: Keegan Thompson, RHP (3-3, 3.40 ERA, 1.490 WHIP, 5.23 FIP) vs. Jake Woodford, RHP (3-3, 3.92 ERA, 1.326 WHIP, 4.70 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday (Game 1): 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network, ESPN (outside Cubs and Cardinals market territories)

Friday (Game 2): 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Prediction

Well, I dunno. The Cubs are 7-5 against the Cardinals this year, but all of those games were before the selloff with lots of different players than the ones currently on the roster.

These games are probably the closest this year’s Cubs will get to any sort of playoff intensity, and generally any Cubs team plays the Cardinals at least reasonably well (example: the 96-loss 2013 Cubs went 7-12 against that year’s 97-win Cardinals team).

Thus I don’t think the Cubs will be swept. They should win at least one of these games and perhaps two. It sure would be fun to end the Cardinals’ winning streak.

Up next

The Cubs have Monday off, their final off day of 2021, then travel to Pittsburgh for a three-game series against the Pirates beginning Tuesday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Cardinals?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    4
    (12 votes)
  • 4%
    3
    (8 votes)
  • 16%
    2
    (33 votes)
  • 35%
    1
    (70 votes)
  • 37%
    0
    (74 votes)
197 votes total Vote Now