The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will resume their rivalry at Bush Stadium tonight with a great pitching matchup between the veteran lefty Jon Lester (7-2, 2.22 ERA) and breakout right hander Michael Wacha (8-1, 2.47 ERA). Jon Lester this season has been the Lester of old after struggling a bit the last two seasons. He has been the ace the Cubs need him to be with Cy Young like stuff through 2018 so far. Lester was outstanding in his last start vs the Pirates pitching seven shutout innings and only allowing one hit in that start. Michael Wacha has been the Wacha of old as well in 2018 that we saw in 2013 when he led the Cardinals staff to a World Series appearance, and took home the NLCS MVP. The Cardinals have been waiting to see the Michael Wacha of 2013 again, and so far they have in 2018. Wacha picked up a win in his last start vs the Reds going five and two- thirds innings pitched and allowed two runs but only four hits.
Game two of the series on Saturday will feature righty Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 3.48 ERA) vs right hander Carlos Martinez (3-3, 2.50 ERA). Kyle Hendricks hasn’t been bad of late but simply isn’t getting much run support. In his last start vs the Pirates he pitched five innings and only allowed one run but his offense and bullpen didn’t back him up as he took the loss. Carlos Martinez is clearly still trying to find it after coming off the disabled list ten days ago. Martinez wasn’t sharp at all as he walked seven batters and allowed five runs over three and two-thirds innings pitched. It will be interesting to see if he can cut down on the walks and get more ground ball outs.
Game three of the series on Sunday will feature the lefty Jose Quintana (6-4, 4.09 ERA) vs right hander Jack Flaherty (3-2, 2.96 ERA). Quintana has been a lot better of late then the beginning of the season where he really struggled. In his last start vs the Brewers he went six innings allowing two runs on four hits against a good Brewers offense. He picked up a no decision as the Cubs won late in eleven innings. The youngster Jack Flaherty in his last start vs the Padres was very sharp. He only allowed one run on three hits and finished up going six and a third strong innings. This will be the first time the Cubs have seen the young right hander.
The two offenses come in struggling a bit. The Cubs put seven up in a win in game one of the series vs Milwaukee late but didn’t score any runs in the final two games in Milwaukee. The Cardinals put up five in a win vs San Diego in game one of that series but only combined for four runs in the final two games against a weak Padres rotation. We will see how each offense responds against three tough pitching matchups for each squad.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not?
Both offenses haven’t been too hot of late but for the Cubs Jason Heyward has been hitting the ball much better and more consistent. Over his last 7 games he is hitting .310 with 9 hits, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, and 4 runs scored. Jason Heyward in his Cubs tenure has been very inconsistent, but has shown signs of improvement of late. Albert Almora has also been good for the Cubs lineup when he has played. In his last seven games he is hitting .350 and has made the most out of it when in. For the Cubs Kyle Schwarber has really been struggling at the plate. In 19 plate appearances in his last 7 games he is hitting .053 with only one hit, and has struck out eight times. He has had lots of success though in the past vs the Cardinals and will look to turn it around. The Cardinals finally are starting to see the Marcell Ozuna they thought they’d see all season. Ozuna in his last 15 games is hitting .385 and has eighteen hits over that span with fourteen RBIs, and five HRs. The Cardinals are starting to see that power they traded for and need at the clean up spot. Jose Martinez has also been scorching hot and just keeps hitting. In Martinez’s last 7 games he has popped five HR’s, driven in nine, and is batting .440 in that span. Jose is batting .321 on the season and just continues to hit consistently. Who’s not hot for the Cards. It’s pretty obvious Dexter Fowler isn’t. Fowler in 19 plate appearances in his last seven games has struck out nine times, and only has two hits in that span. The Cardinals can’t continue to play Fowler and not have Harrison Bader in the lineup who gets on base and plays outstanding defense when in.
The Cubs come in 6-4 in their last 10, and currently sit 1.5 games behind Milwaukee in second place. The cubs will play ten of their next fourteen against .500 or better teams that features three against the Cardinals, and seven against the Dodgers. The Cardinals went 4-5 in a nine game stretch that featured the Marlins, Reds, and the Padres. Obviously not what you want with a brutal nineteen games coming up for the Redbirds. All nineteen games feature the Cubs, Phillies, Brewers, Indians, Braves, and DBacks. All teams have winning records. An early June test for both the Cardinals and Cubs coming up.