Time for a weekend series with the Cubs.... that sounds familiar.
After sweeping last weekend’s three-game series with the North Siders and splitting a rain-shortened, two-game set with the Reds, the 31-29 Cardinals are in Chicago to start their three-city roadtrip. This series will start on Friday afternoon.
In the opener, Cole Hamels will take on Miles Mikolas around 1:20 PM Central time. After allowing 15 runs in 26 May innings, Hamels logged seven innings of one-run ball against these Cardinals back on June 2. Batters are hitting .220 off Hamels at Wrigley Field this season, compared to .248 on the road; the 35-year-old lefty has a 3.26 ERA in five home starts this year.
Following up on that dreadful start against the Rangers (seven earned runs in his line after just 1 1⁄3 innings), Mikolas has pitched seven innings in each of his last two starts. Facing the Cubs back on May 31, Mikolas limited them to one run on six hits in seven frames. This will be Mikolas’s third start of his Cardinals career at Wrigley Field; his last time there, on September 29, 2018, Mikolas twirled eight frames with an unearned run acting as his only blemish.
On Saturday, it will be Jon Lester and Jack Flaherty on the mound. After a stretch (May 18-28) where he allowed 16 earned runs in 14 innings over three starts against the Nationals, Phillies, and Astros, Lester held the Angels to one run his last time out, a seven-inning outing on June 3. Matt Wieters is 17-for-52 (.327) with three doubles and a triple in his career facing Lester; Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter have three homers apiece off the lefty.
Flaherty enters the weekend by leading the Cardinals in several pitching categories, with 73 strikeouts and a .227 opponents’ batting average in 12 starts. Flaherty whiffed eight Cubs his last time out, on June 1, and added to a rather powerful track record against Chicago. This current Cubs roster is slashing a collective .192/.344/.359 with 35 strikeouts and 14 walks. Kris Bryant is 1-for-10 and Javier Baez is 0-for-7 off the 23-year-old, while Anthony Rizzo (7-for-11, two homers) has done the bulk of the damage.
This series will conclude with Kyle Hendricks and Adam Wainwright on Sunday evening. Back on Friday, May 3, Hendricks set the tone for what turned out to be a weekend sweep for the Cubs over the Cardinals. Needing just 81 pitches (63 for strikes), Hendricks tossed a complete-game shutout, holding St. Louis to just four hits. For Hendricks, it started a very impressive stretch. In seven starts dating back to 5/3, Hendricks has a 2.09 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP with a 47:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 51 2⁄3 innings.
Wainwright was tough on these Cubs in his last start. Back on June 2, Wainwright battled his way through eight scoreless innings, punching out eight Chicago batters along the way - including Bryant three times. For Wainwright, Sunday will be his 27th appearance at Wrigley Field and 22nd start. In 131 1⁄3 innings on the corner of Sheffield and Waveland avenues, Wainwright has an 8.1 K/9 rate with just 11 home runs and 42 walks.
So, to recap:
Friday, 6/7, 1:20 | Hamels v Mikolas | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN
Saturday, 6/8, 6:15 | Lester v Flaherty | Fox, KMOX, CRN
Sunday, 6/9, 6:05 | Hendricks v Wainwright | ESPN, KMOX, CRN
Notes from around the league:
- According to several reports that bloomed overnight, the Braves and Dallas Keuchel have agreed on a one-year contract.
- The Twins are having a great year. With a 41-20 record and a .672 winning percentage that are the best in the game, Minnesota is enjoying a 10 1⁄2 game lead over the Indians in the American League Central. On Thursday, when Max Kepler smashed three home runs, he made a bit of history: he joined Ted Williams as the only players to have multiple three-homer games against Cleveland.