RECORDS: Cubs 87-68 Cardinals 81-74
GAMETIMES: 7:15 Monday and Tuesday, 6:15 Wednesday and Thursday
TV: CSN Monday-Wednesday, WGN Thursday
DEATH RATTLE: Viva El Birdos
I titled the preview of the last series the Cubs played in St. Louis last year, as they had a chance to clinch the division in St. Louis. They needed a sweep, they didn’t get it, and we had to wait until the next one at home. The Cubs will get a second chance this year, and it’s going to be sweet. A win tonight, a win tomorrow, it’s over. A win tonight and a Brewers spit-up tomorrow would get it done. But the Cubs clinched last year by a team losing–the Cardinals losing to the Giants. It would be a little better this time to do it with a win.
The Cardinals are handing on by the last joint of their fingers. The Cubs would basically have to lose out and the Cards win out to get the division. They’re two-and-a-half back in the wild card, but with the Brewers to leap to get to the Rockies. Unless something goofy happens with the Rockies, the Cardinals can’t really lose more than two games this week. So the Cubs will have a determined opponent if nothing else. Though that didn’t matter much 10 days ago, as the Cubs kicked the Cards back down I-55.
The Cubs will have other concerns other than clinching, though that’s Priority A. The first of these come tonight in Jon Lester’s start. Lester has been itchy and mostly bad since he came back from injury, and if he can’t turn it around in these last two starts the Cubs are going to have a major headache heading into the division series. Lester hasn’t been able to locate at all, walking three in three of his four starts since his return. On top of that, the stuff just hasn’t been sharp. The curve hasn’t bitten so much as bent. The Cubs are going to need Lester at the top of his game if they’re going to make any noise starting next week.
The second will be Arrieta’s second start off the DL. He looked good coming back in Milwaukee, though with a more upright delivery. Arrieta has been magnificent in the 2nd half, but we still don’t know how the long break will affect him. Hopefully it’s nothing more than a rest.
Beyond that, the Cubs don’t have too many questions to figure out. They’ll probably give Justin Wilson a couple run-outs at least to see if he can build off Saturday’s excellent outing. Hector Rondon will get a couple as well to see if he can be a part of the playoff bullpen. Quintana gave everyone a break yesterday, so everyone should be good to go.
As for what they’ll be facing, the biggest threats right now are Matt Carpenter and Dexter Fowler have been nuclear the past two weeks. Fowler is hitting .394 and slugging .758 the past 14 days. Carpenter is getting on base half the time in that span, because that’s just a thing he does from time to time.
The Cubs will get their first look at Luke Weaver, who has been dominant in eight starts since his call-up. The rest are the crew that the Cubs got one over last time they saw the Cards at Wrigley, Martinez-Wacha-Lynn. There aren’t too many secrets there.
Wrap this up, let’s move on. There’s no need to mess about here.