Cubs vs Cardinals: Series Preview (7/19-7/22)

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The All Star Break is over a day early for the Cubs and Cardinals, who were selected by Major League Baseball to be the prime time showcase out of the break. The Cubs swept the Padres last weekend to move 2.5 games ahead of the formerly first-plaee Brewers in the NL Central. A double header on Saturday means the two bitter rivals will play five games in four days.

Things have not been going well for St. Louis, who fired manager Mike Matheny in the midst of losing two of three to the Reds. The Matheny dismissal had as much to do with locker room concerns as it did with the Cardinals floating around .500. Still, the team has struggled a lot lately, and it's unclear if the shakeup will do anything. While the starting pitching has done well, the bullpen has struggled mightily. The Cubs didn't see slugging first baseman Jose Martinez last series, but he has been the Cards best hitter this season.

The Cubs usually kick things into gear in the second-half, this year they are already in a very good position. Joe Maddon is quite good at placing his teams in the right spot for late season runs. One step that Chicago can take right now is to firmly knock the Cardinals out of the race. Winning this series likely snuffs out any chance St. Louis has of taking the division. Let's see if the Cubs can start another second-half surge this weekend.

Watch/Listen

Thursday: 6:05 pm CT on ESPN/670AM

Friday: 1:20 pm CT on MLB Network/NBC Sports Chicago/670AM

Saturday: 12:05 pm CT on MLB Network/WGN/670AM

Saturday: 6:15 pm CT on FOX/670AM

Sunday: 1:20 pm CT on TBS/ABC-7/670AM

Lineups

Cardinals 

1. Matt Carpenter (L) 1B
2. Yadier Molina (R) C
3. Paul DeJong (R) SS
4. Marcell Ozuna (R) LF
5. Jedd Gyorko (R) 3B
6. Kolten Wong (L) 2B
7. Dexter Fowler (S) RF
8. Tommy Pham (R) CF

Cubs

1. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Jason Heyward (L) RF
4. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
7. Addison Russell (R) SS

Bullpen Usage

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via Baseball Press.

Opposing pitchers

Scouting Reports from Brooks Baseball.

Carlos MartinezCarlos Martinez has thrown 12,606 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, the MLB Postseason and The World Baseball Classic. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Sinker (93mph) and Slider (84mph), also mixing in a Fourseam Fastball (95mph), Cutter(91mph) and Change (87mph). He also rarely throws a Curve (78mph).

His sinker generates a very high amount of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has some natural sinking action. His slider sweeps across the zone and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His fourseam fastball generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' fourseamers, has some natural sinking action, has well above average velo, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has slightly less natural movement than typical. His cutter has well above average velo and has some natural sink. His change dives down out of the zone, is much firmer than usual, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' changeups and has slight armside fade. His curve has very little depth, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has slight glove-side movement.

Sean's Note: Martinez continues to struggle with his control, with a career-high walk rate. He walked 6 batters against the Cubs in June while only allowing 3 runs. Despite the control issues he can still be very effective.

Jack FlahertyJack Flaherty has thrown 1,667 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2017 and 2018, all of them occuring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Slider (84mph), also mixing in a Sinker (92mph) and Curve (77mph). He also rarely throws a Change (86mph).

His fourseam fastball has less armside movement than typical, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His slider generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sliders, results in more flyballs compared to other pitchers' sliders and has less than expected depth. His sinker is a real worm killer that generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' sinkers and has less armside run than typical. His curve generates a high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' curves, has a sharp downward bite, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves and has slight glove-side movement. His change generates more whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' changeups and is slightly firmer than usual.

Sean's Note: Flaherty dominated the Cubs last month in a win on Sunday Night Baseball. The rookie has a very impressive 3.24 ERA, and an impressive 26% strike out rate.

Luke WeaverLuke Weaver has thrown 3,512 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2015 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Change (86mph), also mixing in a Curve (82mph) and Cutter (88mph). He also rarely throws a Sinker (94mph).

His fourseam fastball has slightly above average velo. His change is slightly firmer than usual. His curve generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' curves, is much harder than usual, has little depth and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His cutter is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' cutters, generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' cutters and has strong cutting action. His sinker generates an extremely high number of swings & misses compared to other pitchers' sinkers, is an extreme flyball pitch compared to other pitchers' sinkers, has less armside run than typical and has slightly above average velo.

Sean's Note: Weaver made a AAA start during the break, he has struggled at points this season. He allows a lot of homers, 13 this season. The Cubs scored four runs on him in 6 innings in June.

John GantJohn Gant has thrown 2,014 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2016 and 2018, all of them occuring in the MLB Regular Season. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (94mph) and Change (82mph), also mixing in a Curve (77mph) and Slider (84mph).

His fourseam fastball has an obvious tail, has some natural sinking action, has essentially average velo and results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers. His change has slightly below average velo. His curve generates fewer whiffs/swing compared to other pitchers' curves, has a sharp downward bite and results in somewhat more flyballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His slider 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 Note: Gant has flashed decent numbers moving between starting and relief roles. He strikes out slightly less than league average, while walking above league average. A high rate of hard contact and a very low (.219) average on balls put in play indicate he has been lucky in 2018.

Miles MikolasMiles Mikolas has thrown 3,528 pitches that have been tracked by the PITCHf/x system between 2011 and 2018, including pitches thrown in the MLB Regular Season, Spring Training and Fall/Winter Ball. In 2018, he has relied primarily on his Fourseam Fastball (95mph), Slider (89mph), Curve (79mph) and Sinker (94mph), also mixing in a Change(89mph).

His fourseam fastball has less armside movement than typical, has some natural sinking action, results in somewhat more groundballs compared to other pitchers' fourseamers and has slightly above average velo. His slider is thrown extremely hard and results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' sliders. His curve has an exceptional bite and results in many more groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves. His sinker has less armside run than typical and has slightly above average velo. His change is thrown extremely hard and has slight armside fade.

Sean's Note: Mikolas continues to have a great season with a 2.79 ERA. He doesn't strike out many hitters, but walks even fewer and generates a 50% ground ball rate. He held the Cubs scoreless in seven innings in early May.

Update: The Cubs placed closer Brandon Morrow on the 10 Day Disabled List with biceps soreness. Morrow missed time last month with back soreness.

Comments

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  • The cubs might have to go after britton, morrows health is too shakey

    Plus they could use another lefty out the pen.Just don't trust theo in trading prospects he seriously overpays.

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    So who's brought up? Maples, Mekkes, etc.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Bass was activated from the DL.

  • Would spending the money to keep Wade Davis have been really such a bad idea?

  • Darvish also still ‘weeks away’.

  • If someone has access to baseball america and espn's midseason top 100 list and wants to copy and paste those names I think many of us would be interested it's unfortunately subscription based. A brief synopsis of the results would do as well.

  • Bruce levine said the cubs will be a "main player" for britton if they're convinced he's healthy.

  • In reply to bolla:

    I hope so he makes a ton of sense as a rental that shouldn't cost a high end prospect or in our case a ML piece like Brad Hand did today due to their difference in cost control

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    The indians gave up their #1 prospect and a top 15 overall mlb prospect for hand.They still may not beat the red sox,yankees or astros. They paid a very high price and the padres gotta have best farm in mlb now

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    That wasn't the case in the Chapman deal. I think the o's would want highly ranked prospects for Britton.

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    Well I think the market corrected itself on that deal as illustrated by the awful return for kelvin Herrera. Brittons value is also at an all time low he hasn't been pitching to the same standards following some of his injuries. He may cost more than Herrera but don't think chapman is the precedent for this deal chapmans also probably the highest valued reliever in baseball as illustrated by his contract

  • In reply to 2016 Cubs:

    But of course they're gonna want highly valued guys but I doubt they're getting a top 25-50 prospect.

  • The All-Stars getting an extra day off... I'd really like to see the A-team out there tonight starting the second half with a huge statement by putting the screws to St. Lou.

  • In reply to JohnCC:

    Joe obviously wants his left handed hitters in there...Martinez is the kind of pitcher that can make Javy look awful.

  • I was looking at the Cubs' current run scored/runs allowed ratios and noticed an interesting trend..while also being a massive improvement over last year at the break (399/399 vs. 476/362), the ratios are getting better as the game goes along..i.e. innings 1-3 are at 1.106 while 7-9 are 1.677. Considering how many comeback wins they've had, this makes total sense.

    After that 399/399 ~half season last year, the Cubs went 423/296 en route to the division title as part of another strong second half. I don't think there'll be that much of an improvement this time around but there doesn't have to be in order to claim a third straight division crown.

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    In reply to JTWilson:

    Someone pointed out that, outside of the 1st inning, the Cubs have an even BIGGER advantage.

  • That 1st run is a perfect illustration of the value that Baez brings that isn't properly measured by Obp or war. 100% he makes that play

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Yup.I swear I was just about to post this, the inning should of been over because baez would of made that play. The game should still be 0-0

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    I agree. Javy would have caught that--not because he is an uber infielder but simply because he can jump higher than Zo. But Kyle isn't doing his team any favors by giving up all these hits. If he can limit the Cards to only 1 run that would help, and right now he's at 27 pitches.

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    Hate not seeing Javy in the lineup whether he strikes out every ab or not. If he's at second the cards don't score in the first inning! We have a chance to basically eliminate the Cards with 4 of 5 and Joe starts the "B" team

  • Hold on. Hendricks getting smacked hard...
    Seems like we’re always behind early

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    KB not getting Rizzo over hurt us. It's situational hitting--if he had hit it to the right side Anthony is standing on 3rd with JHey coming up and if he had done the same thing it would be 1-1. Don't give the Cards any kind of edge, put them down and keep them down.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Agree Jonathan but that was also poor base running by Riz. It was a slow roller that ss had to come in on hard & throw to 1st on the move. No way he goes to 3rd if Rizzo takes off

  • I said weeks ago that soft tossing stuff hendricks throws isn't fooling hitters in 2018. He's consistently been getting hit hard this season

  • Gonna be a long weekend for the bullpen

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    This is going to be an easy 5 game sweep for the cardinals. The cubs starting pitching is bleeping horrible. The cubs have a No.3 in Lester and than 4 No.5 starters. The cardinals have 4 No1-2 starters and their 5th starter John Gant has better stuff than the cubs top starter. I'm predicting that the cubs lose 8 out of their next 9 games. Theo Epstein's garbage rotation is going to be exposed during the next 2 series.

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Greg your manager just got fired and doesn't your team need to be wn actual playoff contender to troll lol

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Greg, even if Cards sweep, as you suggest, they’re still 3 games back. As a Cardinal fan, you should be rooting for losses. They need to Sell. Martinez would probably be the best starting pitcher on the market (depending on Mets willingness to trade DeGromor Syndergaard). They could get a haul for him & a decent return for Mikkolas. As a Cub fan, in some small way I’m hoping we only win 2 or 3 to keep the Cardinals from selling

  • In reply to Cubpack:

    Lol Honestly cub pack it maybe better if the cards win 3/5 that way they they won't sell and they can continue to be mired in mediocrity as they usually have been these days

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    Looks like an easy 5 game sweep for the Cubs

  • In reply to Greg Simmons:

    “This is going to be an easy 5 game sweep for the cardinals.“ - Good call.

  • Good ab by heyward

  • Jhey has become our best clutch hitter

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    Addy’s just missed those 2 balls hit into LF. One step over and those are outs.

  • More bad base running by Rizzo. That’s 2 runs he’s cost unless Hayward can pick him up

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    As Alex just said, Rizzo should have seen where the SS was playing he should’ve taken off—even if he had caught it he couldn’t have turned and thrown out Rizzo.
    Now the Cubs are coming. Who would have guessed that now we want to see him up in high leverage situations?
    If we get ahead we can win and also discourage the Cards (and Brewers) even more!

  • Ian Happ is a good player

  • Man, Bass looks like he’s throwing 100 after watching Hendricks.

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    This ump is calling strikes that are outside the box in the right hand side of the plate and balls when it’s on the line. He’s benefited the Cubs but it’s just wrong. I want the correct call made. Robo umps need to come.

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    Must have been run on contact. He could have frozen Gyorko for a min and then taken off when he threw to first. The Javy effect.

  • I got discouraged when the Cards got the early lead, but I guess you can rely on their defense to keep the other team in the game. :-)

    Sure is weird to see Hayward driving the ball all over the field after watching two years of bouncers to second.

  • Cubs Win! Again........

    Wouldn’t be surprised now if the Cubs win the Central by a larger margin than the Indians win theirs.....

  • Cubs acquire Jesse Chavez for “Ricky” Tyler Thomas... Meh...

  • Ok....who is this guy we just got from Texas.....

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    He's 34. Pitched 56.1 innings but only walked 12 and has 50 SO. It's said he's a swingman like Montgomery. Time will tell.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Stats look like he doesn’t walk many.....that’s a good thing. Had the most innings pitched in relief for the Rangers so far this year. Lotta experience.......may be a real decent pickup.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Could that make montgomery dispensable?

    If we could get degrom that would really put us up there with big 3 from the AL.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Should have been "disposable".

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    In reply to bleachercreature:

    Now I am curious. Do you mean "dispensable" ("no longer necessary/needed") or "disposable" ("meant to be thrown away").

  • Brutal game for Dex. I’m glad we’re not paying him, but I still feel for the guy.

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