This weekend offers one of the best rivalries in baseball as the Chicago Cubs (10-3) travel to Busch Stadium to take on the St. Louis Cardinals (2-3). The Cubs have staked an early claim to the NL Central, but the Cardinals are hoping to protect their home field and get back into the division race. First pitch is scheduled for 8:15 pm ET.
For the Cubs, they had been on a nice roll, winning six in a row; however, they ran into issues on Thursday when they were pounded 13-2 by the Kansas City Royals. Starter Tyler Chatwood was chased after giving up eight runs, and the Cubs’ offense just couldn’t keep up. Still, at 10-3, they couldn’t have asked for a better start to the shortened season.
For the Cardinals, it has been anything but a good start. Due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the team, this will be the first time they have played since Wednesday, July 29, a 3-0 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Twins.
With Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong among the many that tested positive, the Cardinals will be a little shorthanded in this one.
The pitching matchup for Friday’s matchup features Jon Lester (1-0, 0.82 ERA) taking the mound for the Cubs against the Cardinals’ Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1, 6.75 ERA).
By The Numbers
On the offensive side, the Cubs hold a distinct advantage in this one. They currently rank 8th in MLB, averaging 5.25 runs per game. For the Cardinals, they fall to 22nd overall, averaging just 3.60 runs per game.
Things are a little closer on the defensive side, but it is once again the Cubs who hold the advantage. Chicago comes in ranked 8th in the league, allowing an average of 3.75 runs to opponents. For the Cardinals, they come in 9th overall, allowing an average of 3.80 runs per game.
Cubs Looking To Bounce Back After Ugly Loss
Until Thursday, everything seemed to be going right for the Cubs. They were getting great starting pitching, timely hitting, and their bullpen was piecing it together. Unfortunately for Cubs fans, things unraveled a bit Thursday, but they will look to bounce back against the Cardinals Friday.
To do so, they will look to veteran Jon Lester to take the mound. In his last start, a 2-1 win over the Pirates, Lester went six innings, allowing four hits, 1 earned run, one walk, and struck out 4. On the season, he is 1-0 with a 0.82 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, and has five strikeouts in 11 innings. While he may no longer be the ace he once was, he can still be an effective pitcher.
Offensively, they have been getting production from all over the lineup. Seven players have at least two home runs, and Ian Happ, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez each have three. If they can continue to get production, their pitching seems to be strong enough to give them a chance for a good playoff run.
Cardinals Excited To Be Playing Again
After having to sit for over a week, the Cardinals are certainly ready to get back into game action. Unfortunately for them, though, it means starting with the red-hot divisional foe, the Chicago Cubs.
The Cardinals will send out Daniel Ponce de Leon. Technically, he is starting two consecutive games for the Cardinals as he pitched in their last game against the Twins last Wednesday. In that outing, he went 3.2 innings, striking out 8, but also allowing three earned runs and walking 3. He will have to be more efficient against the Cubs to be successful Friday.
The team has only played five games, but at that time, Paul Goldschmidt had been one of their best hitters. He is hitting .316/.381/.474 with a home run, a run batted in and four runs scored. Tommy Edman has also done a nice job with a home run and four runs batted in.
Taking The Cubs
If the Cardinals had been playing and were healthy, I might take the Cardinals in this one. After having ridden a hot streak, the blowout loss to the Royals is the type of thing that could put a team in a funk.
With that being said, I don’t know how the Cardinals can run with Chicago in this one. They are rusty, they are missing some stars and have to go against one of the hottest teams in baseball through the first part of the season. For my money, I am taking Chicago.