Cubs @ Cardinals: Series Preview (9/25-9/28)

I want to thank my colleague Michael Ernst who filled while I was at my cousin's wedding. The Cubs went into Milwaukee and did what they had to do, winning three of four and reducing their magic number to win the NL Central to two. Now they have the chance to clinch the title in Busch Stadium against the Cardinals.

Other than winning the World Series, most Chicago fans would agree nothing was sweeter than the Northsiders eliminating the Cards from the 2015 NLDS at Wrigley. So what better than clinching in front of the "Best Fans in Baseball"? The Cardinals have leveled off after being swept by the Cubs, two crucial losses at Pittsburgh made a big dent in their playoff chances. While still technically alive in the division, their best chance is 2.5 game deficit to the Rockies in the Wild Card race.

One of the Cardinals best hitters in September has been Dexter Fowler, Dex has hit .333 in the month with 3 home runs and 12 RBI's. Luke Weaver called up in July has been the Cards best pitcher down the stretch, with a 1.52 ERA in his last 4 starts. In fact, St. Louis has won the last 8 games that Weaver has started.

Watch/Listen

Monday: 7:15 pm CT on MLB-Network/CSN-C/670AM

Tuesday: 7:15 pm CT on ESPN/CSN-C/670AM

Wednesday: 6:08 pm CT on ESPN/CSN-C/670AM

Thursday: 6:15 pm CT on WGN/670AM

Lineups

Cubs

1. Jon Jay (L) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Javier Baez (R) 2B
9. Jon Lester (L) P
Cardinals
1. Matt Carpenter (L) 1B
2. Tommy Pham (R) LF
3. Dexter Fowler (S) CF
4. Paul DeJong (R) SS
5. Yadier Molina (R) C
6. Jedd Gyorko (R) 3B
8. Kolten Wong (L) 2B
9. Luke Weaver (R) P
Bullpen Usage
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screen-shot-2017-09-25-at-2-23-58-pm

via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Luke Weaver: Luke Weaver has thrown 1,597 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2015 and 2017, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2017, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Change (85mph), also mixing in a Curve (80mph). He also rarely throws a Cutter (89mph) and Slider (86mph).

His fourseam fastball generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His change is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups. His curve has little depth. His cutter (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 15 of them in 2017) is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters and has good "rise". His slider (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 8 of them in 2017) generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sliders, has much less depth than expected and has primarily 12-6 movement.

Sean's note: Weaver generates a ton of ground balls 53% of balls put in play. In his short time in the majors he has struck out 31% of batters he faces, which would be Cy Young worthy over a whole season.

Carlos Martinez: Carlos Martinez has thrown 11,002 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2017, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and The World Baseball Classic. In 2017, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (95mph), Slider (85mph) and Fourseam Fastball (97mph), also mixing in a Change (88mph). He also rarely throws a Curve (80mph).

His sinker generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has well above average velo, has slight armside run and has some natural sinking action. His slider has short glove-side cut and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His fourseam fastball is blazing fast, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has some natural sinking action. His change dives down out of the zone, is much firmer than usual, results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade. His curve (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 18 of them in 2017) has very little depth, is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' curves and results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves.

Sean's note: Martinez looked lights out his last start against the Cubs before melting down in a 7 run fifth inning. He allowed 4 runs his next start against the Reds, but won the game.

Michael Wacha: Michael Wacha has thrown 11,276 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2013 and 2017, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and the MLB Postseason. In 2017, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (96mph), also mixing in a Change using a Circle Change grip (88mph), Cutter (91mph) and Curve (77mph). He also rarely throws a Sinker (94mph).

His fourseam fastball has well above average velo, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has slightly less natural movement than typical and has some added backspin. His change is much firmer than usual, has slight cut action and has a lot of backspin. His cutter is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' cutters, has well above average velo and has good "rise". His curve has a sharp downward bite and has primarily 12-6 movement. His sinker has surprisingly little armside run, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has well above average velo and has virtually no sinking action reminiscent of a true sinker.

Sean's note: Wacha had his most effective start against the Cubs last time allowing 3 runs over 5.2 innings. The other two starts he allowed 11 runs against Chicago.

Lance Lynn: Lance Lynn has thrown 17,396 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2017, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and the MLB Postseason. In 2017, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (92mph) and Fourseam Fastball (93mph), also mixing in a Cutter (88mph). He also rarely throws a Curve (79mph), Change (85mph) and Slider (85mph).

His sinker generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sinkers and results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers. His fourseam fastball generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His cutter is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters. His curve is basically never swung at and missed compared to other pitchers' curves, has little depth and has primarily 12-6 movement. His change generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' changeups. His slider (take this with a grain of salt because he's only thrown 18 of them in 2017) generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sliders and has primarily 12-6 movement.

Sean's notes: After going four innings of 3 run baseball against the Cubs Lynn imploded against the Pirates. He allowed 8 runs in less than an inning in the 11-6 Pittsburgh victory. His ERA has gone from 3.01 to 3.47 in two starts.

Final Thoughts

If the Cubs win tonight they eliminate the Cardinals, but since Milwaukee doesn't play they can't clinch the division. A win does assure the worst they can do is tie for the division title. It's highly likely the Cubs can celebrate the NL Central title in their rival's back yard. Jon Lester looks to rebound from another rough outing, if he can right the ship Chicago suddenly has a very formidable playoff rotation. Let's hope the Cubs clinch this thing quickly.

 

 

 

Filed under: Series Preview

Tags: jon Lester, NL Central

Comments

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  • I'll go out on a limb and risk a jinx by stating that we will clinch the division no later than Wednesday. The angst is entirely gone. So the only thing to really look for now is seeing how well Lester performs. It sure would be nice to see a dominant performance. But another clunker will raise huge concerns about him starting Gm 1, or any game in the POs.

  • In reply to TTP:

    Lester is a concern. Fangraphs had a good (bad?) article this morning detailing his second-half struggles. Nearly every measurable metric is down, from velocity to spin rates and movement. The biggest takeaway from the study was his reluctance to throw his four-seam fastball up and in to right-handers. I don't know if it's a lack of command or confidence, but that may be the most important thing to watch for as we all hope for a rebound.

  • Not to nitpick, but you forgot the TM after the phrase "Best Fans in Baseball"; you might hear from the Cardinals' lawyers. Also, how much does Cubs Den have to pay St. Louis for each usage of this phrase?

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    In reply to Lildude:

    Agreed. I am always careful to put the (TM) along with the BFIB claim.

  • fb_avatar

    It will be sweet to clinch in StL but I still want to take it one day at a time. Lester needs a good game tonight but could have a tough time. If he pitches badly again I'd rest him for a week and let the others do the heavy lifting. He's been a horse the last 2 years, pitching among the most innings--I think Jake is in the top 5 too.
    On another point, Aaron Judge hit #s 49 and 50 this afternoon. Congratulations.

  • I know we can't clinch outright tonight, but we can end the DirtyBirds last gasp at the division crown. I'd love to clinch at home in front of the Wrigley faithful, but rubbing it in the noses of TBFIB (TM) works too. I wish the Cubs could have a team walk-up song going into this series, just to let them know who's boss:

    "Leave on the lace and turn off the light.
    Tonight is gonna be the night.
    I'm gonna walk all over you."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    5-0 Cubs in the second. Tee-hee:

    "Do anything you want me to."

  • To quote a famous philosopher "it ain't over until it's over". I take nothing for granted.

  • Quite a different feeling with the Bucs taking out the Cards those last two games. After the Brewers series, I'm ready for a little low-stress baseball. Not that these games aren't important, but it's nice to know the season won't hinge on every pitch. Clinch tomorrow, knock the Birds out tonight.

  • Wow, man. The Cubs are about to dog-pile on the home terf of our hated rivals, and Denizens are still trading political insults over Sam's latest drive-by. I'm sorry to bring this up again, but I vowed to call him out whenever he corrupts this site. He doesn't want to learn, he enjoys the carnage. This is sad.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    You vowed? Like you’re doing a great service?

  • In reply to Stubbs:

    I believe I am. The vast majority of us don't like what this site devolves to with Sam's drive-bys. The Cubs are stomping the DirtyBirds, and I am over this topic. Until Sam's next hateful post.

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    And now the Cubs are up 8-1, crushing any last feeble hopes of the DirtyBirds dreams in 2017:

    "I'm gonna walk all over you."

  • In reply to BarleyPop:

    Yeah!
    Keep on scorin' because Cardinal Fan owes me TWO beers for every one of these victories.

    I want go 14-4!!

  • In reply to hoffpauir6:

    You need to introduce me to your buddy. Cardinals shame, Cubs glory, and a few cold beers. I want in!

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    In reply to BarleyPop:

    You said your piece in the other thread and you were pretty much spot on, but lets not bring it into other threads. If you want to hate on him, you can go back to that thread or wait till his nonsense comes out again in 6 days.

    Lets talk about whooping these birds

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Point taken, and that's what I'm trying to do.

    Go Cubs!

  • I wonder if Gregg will be stopping by to say good bye?

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    He's still hoping and praying the Rockies and Brewers keep losing so his team can not be officially eliminated until the last day of the season.

    He is a die hard Marlins and Reds fan this week!

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    He said he would leave Cubs Den if the Cards did not catch the Cubs at some point as the season ended. I personally hope he stays, it is fun to read his posts here.

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    In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    If he's a real cubs fan, I really hope he doesn't leave. We need some contrarian's here. We don't have enough call em like you see em fans here.

  • 3 AM strikes again.

  • Guys, the Cardinals will catch the Cubs by Memorial Day 2018. Superior team and stuff

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