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Series Preview 5/3-5: Cardinals at Cubs

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The first series of the year between the long-time rivals should be anything but boring.

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MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Washington Nationals Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After taking three of four games from the Nationals this week, the 20-11 Cardinals continue their roadtrip with one more stop: the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs are 16-12, with seven wins in their last 10 games. Looking at the National League Central division standings, the Cardinals sit at the top with the best record in the league, with the Cubs 2.5 games back.

The first of this three-game series will feature Kyle Hendricks and Jack Flaherty on Friday afternoon at 1:20 PM Central time. Hendricks enters the day with a 3.72 FIP with a 1.78 WHIP in five starts. Batters haven’t been fooled by Hendricks much in 2019, as they have a collective .339 batting average against the right-hander. For Hendricks, that is way higher than the .247 mark from last season and figures to be a 13.14 H/9 rate. Hendricks will appreciate being at Wrigley Field this weekend, nonetheless; he has an 8.78 ERA in three starts on the road and a 1.50 in two at home.

Flaherty comes into his Friday assignment with a 4.06 ERA across 31 innings and will make his seventh start. The 23-year-old enters the day with a 10.45 K/9 and carries with him success against this Cubs team in the past. Jason Heyward, Kyle Schwarber, and Javier Baez have each whiffed three times facing Flaherty, who has held Chicago’s current roster to a combined .661 OPS.

Saturday’s contest is set for 3:05, with Yu Darvish and Michael Wacha on the bump. This is Darvish’s second year with the Cubs, and surely it will go better than 2018 did. Last year, Darvish was limited to just starts while dealing with triceps tendinitis. Right-handed batters are hitting just .200 off Darvish this season, but his ERA at Wrigley Field sits at 6.10 with four homers allowed.

Wacha is no stranger to facing the Baby Bears, as Saturday will be his 19th game and 17th start — and first appearance since last June — against the Cubs. Chicago’s big stars have teed off Wacha in the past. Anthony Rizzo is 20-for-42 (.476) with three long balls, and Kris Bryant has also taken Wacha deep three times.

Sunday’s series finale will start around 6:00, and Jose Quintana and Adam Wainwright will toe the rubber. This is the start of Quintana’s second full season with the Cubs after joining them in a trade back in 2017. Before that, he spent five seasons with the White Sox pitching under Chris Sale. St. Louis has hit Quintana very well in the past. Entering this series, the current roster is 41-for-121 with a .339/.426/.554 slash-line. The team has 16 extra-base hits off the left-hander, including two homers from Paul Goldschmidt.

Wainwright has four quality starts this season after having a total of 10 between 2017 and 2018. Wainwright’s start on Sunday will be his 25th game at Wrigley Field, where he has a 3.78 ERA with 116 strikeouts in 126 13 innings. In their careers facing Wainwright, Baez is 3-for-17, Bryant 4-for-18, and Willson Contreras 2-for-12.

So, to recap:

Friday, 5/3, 1:20 | Hendricks v Flaherty | ESPN+, MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Saturday, 5/4, 3:05 | Darvish v Wacha | FS1, FSMW, KMOX, CRN

Sunday, 5/5, 6:05 | Quintana v Wainwright | ESPN, KMOX, CRN

Notes from around the league:

  • Indians left-hander Corey Kluber was struck in his pitching arm by a comebacker in his start against the Marlins on Wednesday evening. Tests revealed a non-displaced fracture of his ulna, and the two-time Cy Young Award winner is expected to miss at least six weeks.
  • Another lefty from the American League Central was also shelved this week. White Sox hurler Carlos Rodon has experienced swelling in his elbow, and Tommy John surgery may be on tap.
  • Reds top prospect Nick Senzel was promoted on Friday and will make his MLB debut in the game against the Giants. Senzel is a third baseman, and the 23-year-old is the fourth-rated prospect in the game. The top three are, respectively, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Fernando Tatis Jr., and Eloy Jimenez; they are all in the Majors.