Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (28-39) at St. Louis Cardinals (44-25)

In Series Previews by berselius28 Comments


I had to stop and ask myself if the Cubs had even played the Cardinals yet this year. Two and a half months into the season, the Cubs and Cardinals have only played a two game series back in May that they split. This is probably a good thing for the Cubs win-loss record (or a bad thing, depending on how you look at it). The Cardinals are good. And kinda lucky. But to paraphrase Dwight Schrute quoting Billy Zane in Titanic, they make their own luck. It's utterly obscene what their farm system has churned out, and I can't think of many free agents that they've busted on either. 

Team Overviews

  Cubs Cards
wRC+ 88 (12th) 108 (1st)
BSR 0.6 (8th) -7.2 (15th)
UZR 6.3 (6th) -7.9 (13th)
DRS -6 (11th) -29 (15th)
SP FIP- 92 (4th) 77 (1st)
RP FIP- 108 (12th) 97 (6th)

The Cardinals may have an awful defense and be bad at baserunning, but that doesn't matter much when you have the best offense in the league and a starting staff that averages out to essentially having five Clayton Kershaws by FIP-. I would have guessed that the biggest hold defensively was converted 2b Matt Carpenter, but it's actually been CF Jon Jay, 3B David Freese, and RF Carlos Beltran that have been the biggest drags on the defense per UZR and DRS. Allen Craig has by far been the worst on the basepaths, accounting for a negative half win with his baserunning mistakes.

Injury Updates

David DeJesus was diagnosed with a sprained right shoulder following his collision with the wall in Saturday's game. That's not nearly as bad as it looked, I was sure he had separated it. No ETA on his return yet. Steve Clevenger should be finished with his rehab soon in Iowa, and will probably return soon to bring the bullpen down from eight pitchers to seven.

The Cardinals are missing Jaime Garcia, who is down for the season following labrum surgery. SS Rafael Furcal is also done for the year following Tommy John surgery back in March. Sometime closer Jason Motte also had Tommy John surgery this spring. The Good Chris Carpenter is working his way back from nerve problems in his shoulder. He's thrown about 20-25 pitches to live batters, but it's still a while until he returns. Maybe July, but I'm not holding my breath there either. 

News, Notes, Blood oaths, etc.

Luis Valbuena batted leadoff yesterday, and it sounds like he and Ryan Sweeney are going to be the main leadoff guys vs RHP while DeJesus is down. I like this news – aside from DeJesus they're the only other guys on the team who can take a walk worth a damn. 

Buried in the Marmol Meltdown yesterday was a great bounceback start from Matt Garza. He was roughed up in his last outing, but good to see him get a chance to rebuild that trade value.

The Cubs signed 4th round pick Tyler Skulina with a bonus well over slot. They signed him for $800k, with a slot value of $323k. Nice pickup by the Cubs. 14th round pick Daniel Poncedeleon, who memorably tweeted a picture of himself with a signed contract, is apparently now going to college instead. I guess that wasn't the 'real' contract. Maybe it was printed on a cracker or something.

Probable Pitchers

Monday: Travis Wood, LHP (2.65, 91, 4.46, 4.23) vs Shelby Miller, RHP (2.21, 67, 3.01, 3.48), 6:05 PM CT

Miller has struck out 10.07 batters per nine innings (28.7%) and walked 1.88 batters per nine (5.4%). I don't know what else to say. Wow. He gave up more than three runs for the first time this season in his last start, against the Mets. 

The Travis Wood BABIP train keeps on rolling. He's currently sitting at .214. How long will it last? He's throwing a lot more sliders this year, which could be part of the answer. His popout rate is significantly greater this year.

Tuesday: Jeff Samardzija, RHP (3.46, 3.07, 78, 3.39) vs Adam Wainwright, RHP (2.18, 48, 2.55, 2.75), 7:15 PM CT

This is clearly the marquee matchup of the series, and should be can't miss. Well, unless you have tickets to a game at Pac Bell instead :D. 

F7 is coming off two rought outings in a row, allowing four runs to the Bucs and five runs to the Reds in his last two starts. It might just be chalked up to BABIP – the opposing team just got a lot more hits off him in those starts, though he did walk a few batters. 

Wainwright has been absolutely unreal this year. He only has nine BBs on the entire season, to 97 strikeouts, and has only allowed two home runs. I guess it's safe to say he's fully recovered from his 2011 TJS. 

Wednesday: Edwin Jackson, RHP (5.40, 84, 3.64, 3.61) vs Jake Westbrook, RHP (2.05, 97, 4.46, 4.09), 7:15 PM CT

Westbrook is a worm-killing machine. This is the second start back from a DL stint, so he probably won't go too deep into this game. He allowed five runs (3 earned) in his first start back, against the Marlins. So there's still probably some rust to shake off there.

Jackson had his second solid start in a row, striking out seven in six innings and allowing only one run against the Mets. Jackson's veolocity was up to normal for his second start in a row (and third in his last four starts), so it looks like he is indeed finall coming around. 

Thursday: Scott Feldman, RHP (3.05, 95, 3.85, 3.84) vs Lance Lynn, RHP (3.56, 80, 3.75, 3.59), 7:15 PM CT

It sounded like Feldman didn't have his best stuff in his last start (at least, from what I gathered from Pat and Keith), but he still got good results anyway. He only allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out six in seven innings against the hapless Mets offense. I've been calling him Paul Maholm 2.0 this year, but in fact he's pitched even better than Maholm to this point of the season. Maholm had an ERA of 4.88 (owing to his awful first two starts) and a K:BB of 49:22. He actually never put together his really good run until July (just the right time!). The Cubs got a top 100 prospect for Maholm, maybe we should be dreaming as big for Feldman too.

Lynn gets the Jack Morris Award For Knowing How To Win, having a 27-8 record since becoming a full time starter. Of course, his numbers are much better than Morris's were, and he's playing in front of a great offense. Lynn throws mostly fastballs, with the occasional curve or sinker mixed in. He only throws 93-94, yet his fastball is overwhelmingly his out pitch so I'm guessing he gets a lot of movement.

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  1. Author

    dmick89 wrote:

    June 17, 2013 at 4:18 pm (Edit)
    @ GBTS:
    Yellon is full of shit, but he makes a rather obvious point here that I still think is being overlooked by many Cubs fans. Prospects fail. If you’re intent on building a team by collecting prospects who may one day be good at the MLB level, the chances are you’ll be rebuilding over and over.
    What Yellon misses is that the Cubs have money unlike a lot of other teams that go through this type of rebuild. The Cubs don’t have to completely rely on their prospects and surely they won’t.

    This. This is also one of the reasons why I’d rather the Cubs extend Samardzija rather than trade him. The Cubs have a lot of payroll coming off the books soon, and it’s not like they can plow all that extra money into signing prospects anymore. Success = developing players AND spending money on solid FAs, e.g. Shark and Edwin Jackson. It’s easy to lose the forest for the trees when it comes to rebuilding.

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  2. dmick89

    @ Berselius:
    I think it’s also important that you’re not just saving these prospects and hoping they all work out. If there’s a good trade to be made, you need to pull the trigger even if it costs you one of your top prospects. The Cubs don’t have a blue chip prospect that you wouldn’t really trade under any circumstances.

    This is something that Hendry was good at and I’m guessing Theo is.

    I also don’t want the Cubs to wait until something like 2015 and then sign a bunch of players at once. Spread it out. I like the Edwin Jackson signing for that reason even though it hasn’t really worked out yet.

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  3. dmick89

    @ Rizzo the Rat:
    I’ve always thought the 7-day dl made more sense than the 15-day dl. It gives teams a lot more freedom. I’ve seen many times a player who is technically day to day being out 5 days and the 7-day DL would make that so much easier.

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  4. SVB

    From the Yellon farticle:

    I personally know people who have lived and died without ever seeing the Cubs in the World Series. I don’t want to be one of those people.

    If, at the end of my life, my only regret is that the Cubs haven’t been in the World Series, I will consider it a life very well lived.

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  5. SVB

    Shelby Miller is out of commission due to cramps. So is my wife. Guess neither Shelby nor I will hit a HR tonight.

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  6. Rice Cube

    @ SVB:
    One of the bajillion random pitchers I don’t remember was optioned to Iowa to make room for Henry.

    So hey, how about some instant replay? Not that it would’ve helped the Cubs much tonight, but still.

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  7. sitrick

    Sorry for no Sunday JOT, the past couple of days have been a clusterfuck of shit going on for me. Who knew driving halfway across the country and back in a weekend would be complicated?

      Quote  Reply



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