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Series Preview 5/31-6/2: Cubs vs. Cardinals

St Louis Cardinals v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Cardinals got out of Philadelphia with one win and enter the weekend with a 27-28 record. With an 8-18 record in the month of May, St. Louis is more than ready to turn over to June. The Cardinals will open the new month with the Cubs, and we can hope this meeting goes better than the one about four weeks ago up on the North Side.

Entering play on Friday, the Cardinals sit in fourth place in the National League Central division, 4 12 games back of first place. The 31-23 Cubs are at the top, followed by the 31-25 Brewers and the 27-27 Pirates, with the 26-30 Reds in the basement. These division standings can really change this weekend, as the Brewers and Pirates are playing in Pittsburgh.

This series will open with Miles Mikolas and Yu Darvish on Friday night. If the Cardinals win on Friday night, it will mark the team’s first (and only) consecutive wins in the month. Mikolas will look to cap off a month that he logged four quality starts, including three of seven innings. Mikolas whiffed a season-high nine batters back on 5/24 against the Braves.

Darvish will make his 12th start of the year on Friday, already more than he made in 2018. In 31 23 innings against right-handed batters in 2019, Darvish has 40 punchouts. And away from Wrigley Field this year, opponents are hitting just .207. In his last outing against the Reds, Darvish allowed a half-dozen runs on a dozen hits.

Saturday’s contest will feature Jack Flaherty and Jose Quintana. Flaherty blanked the Braves across six innings in his last outing, logging six strikeouts and zero walks along the way. Anthony Rizzo is one of few Cubs with much success off Flaherty in the past; Rizzo is 5-for-9 with a double and a homer. As a team, the Cubs have a .183/.364/.300 slash-line in 60 at-bats against the 23-year-old.

Quintana, like Darvish, will make his 12th start of the season. Quintana has simply not fared well against St. Louis in the past. Dexter Fowler is hitting .421 (8-for-19) off Quintana; Paul Goldschmidt has two homers, and Yadier Molina has four doubles off the lefty.

The three-game series will conclude on Sunday, with Adam Wainwright and Cole Hamels in the afternoon game. Wainwright is coming off a 10-strikeout performance in his last start, his first game with a double-digit strikeout total since 2014. Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant is 5-for-20 with two doubles and a homer in his career facing Wainwright, and this current Chicago roster has a collective .229 batting average with 32 punchouts.

Hamels, just like Darvish and Quintana, will make the 12th start of his 2019 campaign. In fact, every probable starter in this series is making their 12th start of the season. This will be Hamels’ first start against St. Louis since last September. The 35-year-old lefty has allowed nine runs and combined for eight total innings in his last two outings, against the Phillies and Astros.

So, to recap:

Friday, 5/31, 7:15 | Mikolas v Darvish | Facebook Watch, FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Saturday, 6/1, 6:15 | Flaherty v Quintana | Fox, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Sunday, 6/2. 1:15 | Wainwright v Hamels | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Notes from around the league:

  • Mike Moustakas and Yasmani Grandal had four hits apiece in Milwaukee’s 11-5 win over the Pirates. The Brewers were 18-for-44 on Thursday night with 11 extra-base hits, including two Moustakas homers.
  • The Rays have won six games in a row and sit just a half-game back of the Yankees for first place in the American League East. The Rays are taking on the Central-leading Twins this weekend, while the Yankees will look to make hay against the Red Sox.