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Series Preview 7/30-8/1: Cubs vs. Cardinals

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MLB: Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

The most important series for the Cardinals thus far in 2019 will take place at Busch Stadium this week, as the Cubs are in town to play three games starting Tuesday night. St. Louis and Chicago are tied for first place in the National League Central, with Milwaukee back in second place by a game.

Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was named the National League Player of the Week after his six-game homer streak helped the Cardinals enjoy a six-game winning streak.

On Tuesday night, Adam Wainwright and Yu Darvish will start the series opener. Wainwright has allowed 11 earned runs over his last two starts which have totaled 8 13 innings. Wainwright walked four batters in his last outing, making it the fifth time he has walked at least four batters out of 19 starts this season. The current Cubs’ roster is batting .225 off Wainwright with 56 strikeouts, with eight from Javier Baez and six apiece for Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Willson Contreras.

Darvish has logged at least six innings in his seven of his past eight starts and walked just two batters over his last 25 innings. Darvish leads the Cubs with 132 strikeouts and a .216 opponents’ batting average, and his start on Tuesday will be his team-leading 22nd of the season. Paul Goldschmidt is just 1-for-12 with eight strikeouts facing Darvish, while Jose Martinez is 2-for-2 with a double and a homer.

Miles Mikolas and Kyle Hendricks will toe the rubber on Wednesday. Mikolas tossed a quality start against the Pirates in his last start and will look to end his July on a high note. Over his last three starts, Mikolas has allowed six runs in 21 innings. Mikolas will also look to continue his stretch of dominance at home. In 10 starts at Busch Stadium this season, he has a 2.15 ERA with a 46:9 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Hendricks turned in five scoreless innings in his last start, back on July 26th against the Brewers. Hendricks leads the Cubs with a 1.13 WHIP, and his gem against the Cardinals at Wrigley earlier this season is the team’s only complete game of year, as of Tuesday. This will be Hendricks’ 20th start of the season, making it five years in a row that the right-hander has reached the mark. Kolten Wong has three doubles in his career facing Hendricks, and Dexter Fowler has drawn as many walks.

In Thursday’s series finale, Jack Flaherty and Jon Lester will take the mound. Flaherty whiffed nine and held the Astros to just two earned runs in his last start. Since the All-Star break, Flaherty has 24 strikeouts in 17 13 innings. This will be Flaherty’s fourth start of the season against the Cubs; he has fallen in line to pitch in each series the clubs have played.

Lester posted seven scoreless frames in Milwaukee in his last start, helping to maintain his 2.91 ERA over his last seven starts. Goldschmidt is 7-for-14 off this lefty, but it’s safe to say Matt Wieters steals the spotlight when it comes to individual Cardinal performances against Lester. Wieters is 17-for-54 (.315) with three doubles and a triple off Lester in his career.

So, to recap:

Tuesday, 7/30, 7:15 | Wainwright vs. Darvish | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Wednesday, 7/31, 7:15 | Mikolas vs. Hendricks | ESPN, FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Thursday, 8/1, 6:15 | Flaherty vs. Lester | MLB Network, FSMW, KMOX, CRN, WJIR

Notes from around the league:

  • Blue Jays prospect Bo Bichette made his Major League debut on Monday night and tallied his first hit in his first plate appearance. Dante Bichette, Bo’s dad, was in attendance and elated to see his son poke a single to left field.
  • The Brewers acquired Jordan Lyles from the Pirates on Monday afternoon. Sound familiar? Last year around this point, the Brewers got Lyles from the Padres. I wonder if he’ll stay in Milwaukee a bit longer this time.