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A Series Preview of a Cubs team that will shed a few of its players by the time the games are played

I wrote this without knowledge of what happens on Tuesday with trades. Unless it happens after I post this, which is also possible.

Chicago Cubs v San Francisco Giants Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

I’m going to be honest guys. I don’t know why I’m writing this. This will be posted relatively close to the trading deadline, I am sure it will be superseded by another post and absolutely nobody is interested in reading a preview of a team the Cardinals face 18 times this year. But it is my turn to write the preview and that’s just what I got to do.

Until more information comes to light, and I’m writing this Monday night, so more information may come to light, here is what the Cubs have done this trading deadline:

  • Traded reliever Chris Martin for utility man Zack McKinstry
  • Traded reliever Scott Effross for 24-year-old Hayden Wesneski
  • Traded Dixon Machado for 29-year-old career minor leaguer Raynel Espinal

Assuming I don’t get home from work in time to update this, I expect more of their bullpen to be raided by the time they face the Cardinals. Both David Robertson and Mychal Givens seem like they will be traded. The Cubs may barely have a functioning bullpen by game time. They will also probably not have Willson Contreras. They’re already prepared for his loss, with three catchers on the roster.

Other than that, they still have an infield of Frank Schwindel (80 wRC+), Christopher Morel (122 wRC+), Patrick Wisdom (114 wRC+), and Nico Hoerner (110 wRC+). In the outfield, Rafael Ortega (92 wRC+), Ian Happ (122, but best to treat him as a 200 wRC+ hitter since he’s facing the Cards), and Seiya Suziki (115 wRC+), who we haven’t actually seen in action yet, since he was injured during the last two series. Zack McKinstry will factor in there somewhere probably and David Bote might as well. Onto the matchups

Tuesday - 6:45 PM

Keegan Thompson (3.16 ERA/3.70 FIP/4.18 xFIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (3.28 ERA/3.81 FIP/3.82 xFIP)

Those numbers don’t quite tell the whole story. It’s certainly propped up by his 26 innings in the bullpen. As a starter, Thompson has a 3.90 ERA, a 4.00 FIP, and a 4.40 xFIP. Hitters have a .330 wOBA against when he’s starting, .239 when he’s relieving. But he looks to be decent and if you’re wondering why a 27-year-old appears to be decent when he made his MLB debut at 26, it seems like he was injured for all of 2019 and obviously he wasn’t going to see the majors in 2020. Might be better suited for relief, all the same though.

Wainwright is coming off his absolutely dominant start against the Jays, which the Cardinals very much needed. They might need a great start from Wainwright slightly less today, although he should have an easier time against the Cubs than against the Jays offense. If the Cardinals acquire anybody from the deadline, I don’t expect that player to factor into today’s game at all.

My pick: Cardinals

Wednesday - 6:45 PM

Justin Steele (3.86 ERA/3.55 FIP/3.88 xFIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (2.86 ERA/3.69 FIP/3.86 xFIP)

Steele has definitely been better than I expected. Two pitchers from their minor league system being annoyingly competent at starting. The Cardinals have faced Steele twice. Once last year, when they score 6 runs in 5 innings off him with three homers. And earlier this year, when they scored 2 runs - one unearned - in 7 innings. Albeit, Steele kind of, sort of didn’t really pitch well. He walked three to one strikeout and gave up 7 hits. Lucky start. They should be able to hit him.

Mikolas is also coming off a good start, his against the Nationals. He’s faced the Cubs twice this season, both games wins for the Cardinals. In the first, he didn’t pitch well, allowing four runs in five innings. But the Cardinals scored 14 runs. In the second, he did pitch well, allowing one run in six innings. He did not get the win though. He got the win for the other game. Aren’t wins stupid?

My pick: Cardinals

Thursday - 6:45 PM

Marcus Stroman (3.99 ERA/3.62 FIP/3.36 xFIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (4.10 ERA/4.63 FIP/4.89 xFIP)

Talk about two pitchers going in opposite directions. Since the Cardinals kicked Stroman to the IL after he allowed nine earned runs, Stroman has had a 0.89 ERA in 20.1 IP in his last four starts. He hasn’t exactly “earned” that, but he still has a 2.33 FIP and 3.20 xFIP. So he’s been cruising lately.

On the other hand, Dakota Hudson has a 5.60 ERA in his last seven starts. And it’s completely deserved. His FIP is 5.44 and his xFIP is 5.31. Hudson has been terrible lately. And he wasn’t exactly operating at a high level before. I really got to hope that if the Cardinals end up getting another starter, Hudson is getting the boot from the rotation, not Pallante.

My pick: Cubs

Individual Game Record: 23-23

Series Prediction Record - 6-8

For the Blue Jays prediction, I said “Anyway, I don’t really care if my individual game record goes to .500 as long as the series prediction goes up a win.” That is exactly what happened. The Cardinals got a win, that’s all I care about. This is three very obvious picks, which means baseball is going to throw me a curveball. This time I want the series prediction wrong so the Cardinals can sweep.