In their previous meeting the St. Louis Cardinals won three of five games against the Chicago Cubs. This weekend the Cardinals are scheduled for three more games against the Cubs. The Cardinals go into this series tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for first place in the National League Central and have a good opportunity to possibly overtake them with a strong series against the Cubs.
The Cubs starter for Saturday afternoon has not been announced yet and their starter for Sunday is Matt Swarmer, who the Cardinals only managed one run against in their prior meeting. stlcardsfan4 discussed Swarmer in his preview of that previous series. So that only leaves one starter to evaluate: Kyle Hendricks.
It is kind of ironic that Hendricks is the only starter to review. He has been with the Cubs for nine seasons. He has faced the Cardinals 24 times and is 12-3 in those games with a 2.82 ERA. He is a deeply frustrating pitcher for the Cardinals to face. He just always seems to be on when he opposes them.
Although we are all probably more than familiar with Hendricks, let’s review his pitching arsenal because there has been some changes for him this season. Over his career he has primarily thrown a sinker with a secondary changeup. He mixed in a 4-seam fastball and then threw the occasion curveball. That has changed in 2022. He has reduced the number of sinkers he throws — he still throws them more than the 4-seam fastball, but he is throwing a 4-seamer now more than he ever has. His pitch arsenal is now split almost evenly among his changeup, sinker, and 4-seamer and he sprinkles in the occasional curveball. It is an interesting change to make this late into his career — perhaps it is in response to a down year in 2021. It doesn’t appear to be improving his outcomes, though — his ERA this season is a career high 5.43 and his FIP is 5.19 — but if history is any indication, he will still shutdown the Cardinals somehow.
That is sort of all I have about the Cubs for this series. Their offense is about in the middle of the league per wRC+. They have quite a few regulars batting above average. Patrick Wisdom, former member of the Cardinals organization, leads the team in homers with 14. Wilson Contreras is not far behind him with 12 and has been the team’s best hitter this season slashing .264/.379/.495 for a 145 wRC+. On the fielding side, shortstop Nick Hoerner has been quite good. Out of the pen they have Scott Effross with a very good slider from the right side.
Friday, June 24 at 7:15 pm CDT: Kyle Hendricks vs. Andre Pallante
Saturday, June 25 at 1:15 pm CDT: TBD vs. Miles Mikolas
Sunday, June 26 at 1:15 pm CDT: Matt Swarmer vs. Jack Flaherty