The second match-up of the NL Central’s “Big Three” kicks off this evening, with the division-leading Chicago Cubs (9-3) visiting the 2nd place St. Louis Cardinals (7-5).
Some Cardinals fans were in a panic after an 0-3 start to the season, getting swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates to kick things off.
Not to worry, I pointed out. Upcoming series against the Atlanta Braves, Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds would turn things around for you.
Sure enough – the Redbirds went 7-2 in those games.
The Cubs are coming off of a somewhat surprising home series loss to the Colorado Rockies over the weekend. Of note, their often ridiculous lineup went missing, scoring one run in the Friday loss and then getting shutout yesterday.
You picture the 2016 Cubs lineup against any Rockies pitching staff and figure there are runs to be had, but it didn’t turn out that way.
The big story line in this series will be the return of a few ex-Cardinals showing up in enemy blue.
One of those guys, right fielder Jason Heyward, is off to another cold April, putting up a .205/.314/.250 slash line thus far.
For his career, he has put up a line of .223/.315/.394 in April.
Starting pitcher John Lackey also makes his return to Busch, now as a member of the Cubs.
The two teams come into this series pretty similar in terms of their numbers they’ve put up this year, so don’t let the early .167 point difference in winning percentage fool you.
The Cardinals lead the National League with 7.1 runs scored per game, with the Cubs in 2nd place at 5.9 runs per game.
On the flip side, the Cubs are 2nd in allowing just 2.6 runs per game. Meanwhile, the Cards are 6th with 4.2 runs allowed per game.
Pythagorean records have the Cubs at 10-2 and Cardinals at 9-3.
Also, check out the pitching match-ups:
- Monday, 7:09 PM – [CHC] Lackey (2-0, 5.68) @ [STL] Leake (0-1, 6.97)
- Tuesday, 7:15 PM – [CHC] Hammel (1-0, 0.75) @ [STL] Garcia (1-0, 2.40)
- Wednesday, 12:45 PM – [CHC] Hendricks (1-1, 2.84) @ [STL] Martinez (2-0, 3.46)
Note that the Redbirds get to avoid facing the Cubs 1-2 punch of Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester. Meanwhile, they get to put Jaime Garcia and Carlos Martinez out there.
It could line up for a pretty happy start to the week for Cardinals fans.
We’ll dissect game one over here tomorrow morning.