Cubs vs. Cardinals: Series Thread (Games 89-91)
The Cubs ended their eleven-game skid and found themselves tied for third, 9.5 games back in the division, and probably sellers at the deadline. The All-Star break is yet to come, however, and a route to contention remains merely unlikely rather than impossible. The Cubs could go on a 10-game tear and put the front office in a more difficult position with regard to the buying or selling. They'll have to get that work started in a three-game series agianst the team that enters tied for third place. I wonder which fanbase is more disappointed with their teams' season so far, the Cubs' or the Cardinals'. The Cards made a splash in the offseason, getting Nolan Aarenado away from a frustrating franchise in Colorado. He's lived up to the hype, but the rest of the Cardinals' cast hasn't been able to hold up their end of things. It's strange to see the Cards roll into Wrigley with both teams far from contention. Will that put a damper on the rivalry? It probably depends on the beer sales. See below for the pitching matchups.
Game 89, Friday, July 9, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (10-4, 3.83 ERA)
STL: LHP Wade LeBlance (0-1, 4.24 ERA)
I got bogged down by work and am writing this post up in the middle of the first game. Good news! Hendricks went 6.1 innings and left with a 4-2 lead. LeBlanc lasted three innings and allowed three earned runs. That's all I can tell you for now.
Game 90, Saturday, July 10, 6:15 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (5-5, 4.28 ERA)
STL: LHP Kwang Hyun Kim (3-5, 3.39 ERA)
Davies, who has missed few bats throughout 2021, struck out only one Philly over his five innings last time out. Still, he held them to two earned runs and did not earn a decision. His walk to strikeout ratio looks unsustainable, and the deviation from his career norms seems connected to the depressed value of his changeup this year. Hitters appear not to be biting on it out of the zone all that much and he has missed with it in the zone a bit too often. It is hard to see Zach Davies continuing to succeed unless he rediscovers a consistent change.
Kim, a veteran of the KBO, has turned out to be one heck of a signing by the Cardinals. He broke into MLB with seven starts in 2020 and held his ERA just over one and a half. He's continued his success, with a bit of regression, in 2021. He's averaging less than one homer per nine innings and a groundball rate just shy of 50% in MLB. His peripherals and stuff do not jump out at you, but everything seems to play. Kim debuted in relief in Philadelphia and made his first MLB start at Wrigley in 2020. He has not faced the Cubs since holding them to one earned run in 3.2 innings in that game.
Game 91, Sunday, July 11, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.51 ERA)
STL: RHP Adam Wainwright (7-5, 3.58 ERA)
Williams missed about a month following an emergency apendectomy. Although this will be his first start off of the IL, he last pitched in relief of Arrieta, going 3.2 and allowing seven runs, three earned, to the Phillies. This will be his first time facing the Cardinals in 2021. Goldschmidt, Carpenter, and DeJong have all OPSed over 1.000 against Williams in his career.
Wainwright has strung together seven straight strong starts. In that time he's gone at least five innings in every start and not allowed more than three earned runs. There's little more the club could ask from their veteran righty, who turns 40 later this season. He's faced the Cubs once already in 2021, going eight shutout innings without a decision back on May 23 in St. Louis. Ian Happ is 8-17 with four homers off of him. Javy, 5-32 with eleven strikeouts against Wainwright, might consider an additional rest day going into the All-Star break.