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The first place St. Louis Cardinals have five upcoming games against the Chicago Cubs - A series preview

And then three finals games in St. Louis later this season.

St. Louis Cardinals Archive Photo by St. Louis Cardinals/MLB Photos via Getty Images

The National League Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals take on the Chicago Cubs this week for their fifth series of the season. The Cardinals are 7-4 in those games with 59 runs scored versus 42 runs allowed. Currently sitting atop the NL Central — ahead of the second-place Milwaukee Brewers by five games — the Cardinals could really start to put this division race away with a good series against the Cubs. The Cubs are always a tough customer for the Cardinals though, especially in Wrigley. They are never shy to play spoiler.

The only two pitchers I know for sure are opposing the Cardinals are Drew Smyly and Marcus Stroman. The Cardinals have faced Stroman twice in 2022 tagging him for three runs in his last time out and nine runs in their first meeting of the season. Overall in 2022 he looks to be pitching fine — a 3.83 ERA and 3.83 FIP (even better over his last seven games with a 2.45 ERA). He throws a sinker, slider, cutter, split finger, and a 4-seamer. The sinker is his best pitch this season, though in the past it has been his slider.

The Cardinals have somehow avoided Drew Smyly all season as far as I can tell. He has a 3.67 ERA and 4.12 FIP while striking out just over 20% of batters and walking over 5%. He has been prone to give up some homers with a HR/9 of 1.30. He primarily throws a curveball, followed up by a sinker, and then a cutter. None of them have been very valuable in 2022 per Baseball Savant’s Run Value. I’ll be looking for Albert Pujols to hit home run number 693 against this lefty.

On offense the Cubs have about three players standing out above the rest of the team: Nico Hoerner, not just the top defensive shortstop in baseball per DRS with 13, but also solid on offense with a 111 wRC+, long-time catcher Wilson Contreras leads the regulars with a 135 wRC+, and Ian Happ has been solid with a 125 wRC+. The Cubs acquired outfielder Franmil Reyes from the Cleveland Guardians on August 1. Since his change of teams he has batted .333/.340/.622 with a .289 ISO and a 160 wRC+.

Out of the bullpen Scott Effross has been the most effective. He has a 2.74 ERA and 2.16 FIP in almost 43 innings. Keegan Thompson has only 26 innings pitched and has a team-leading 1.38 ERA to a 2.97 FIP.

Matchups (at least what little we have):

Monday, August 22 at 7:05 pm CDT: Jordan Montgomery vs. Drew Smyly
Tuesday, August 23 at 1:20 pm CDT: TBD (maybe Liberatore?) vs. TBD
Tuesday, August 23 at 7:05 pm CDT: TBD vs. TBD
Wednesday, August 24 at 7:05 pm CDT: Miles Mikolas vs. TBD
Thursday, August 25 at 1:20 pm CDT: TBD vs. Marcus Stroman