Analysis

Skidding Cubs Return to the Friendly Confines to Host the Cardinals

The Chicago Cubs (25-27) come home for a set against the St. Louis Cardinals (26-25) at Wrigley Field this weekend, here is out series preview. And be sure to check back for the latest preview on the afternoon of the first game of each series this season.

Cubs Preview

Source: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images North America

After a 7-2 home-stand that ended with the Cubs exiting the clubhouse donning seventies duds as they took part in their theme for the upcoming “Ron Burgundy Sex Panther” west coast road trip, the Cubs were back above .500 and looking as sharp as their suits and cowboy hats.

Cubs broadcaster Len Casper even went as far as saying that the Cubs would probably never see .500 again on an episode of the “Mulley and Hanley Show” on The Score prior to the Cubs kicking off their six-game trip at Dodger Stadium.

Um, Yeah… About that. Not only have the Cubs said “hello” to the .500 mark once again, they’re actually staring up at it entering play on Friday. The Cubs are sitting at 25-27, two games under the even mark and have slid back into third place in the National League Central, trailing both the St. Louis Cardinals and the first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

While no one is showing any sign that they’re getting ready to run away with the division, you’d have to begin to wonder, now on June 2 when the Cubs plan on waking up from their slumber.

Leading the pack of under-performers is Kyle Schwarber who is hitting under the Mendoza line entering the third month of the season. Our Nick Petrusevski wrote yesterday that a trip to Triple-A might do Schwarber some good, and Cubs’ President Theo Epstein definitely left the door open for that possibility during an interview with Matt Spiegel and Danny Parkins on The Score Thursday afternoon.

The Cubs will need the offense to come around this weekend as they get set to face a pair of Cardinals starters with sub-three ERA’s this weekend, and if it doesn’t they may find themselves dropping their third consecutive series, and falling even further back in the National League Central.

Cardinals Preview

Source: Harry How/Getty Images North America

The Cardinals head to Wrigley Field this afternoon looking to take advantage of a Cubs team that looks lost offensively to this point in the season, and create some room between the two clubs in the National League Central race after splitting a series with the Los Angeles Dodgers to close out the month of May.

The Cardinals will send two starting pitchers with sub-three ERA’s to the hill in games one and two of the weekend tilt in the form of Lance Lynn (4-3, 2.93) and Mike Leake (5-3, 2.24). The Cardinals have the best starting rotation in baseball as far as ERA is concerned, checking in with a combined ERA of 3.22 entering play Friday.

One thing to look for Friday as John Lackey and Lance Lynn square off for the second time this season, is that Lynn has posted a superb 1.85 ERA in his starts at Busch Stadium this season, while his road ERA is 3.71.

Overall the Cardinals will look to rely on their pitching to over power a slumping Cubs lineup this weekend, while aiming to get an early lead against what can be described at best as an inconsistent starting rotation for the Cubs. The early lead will be important because the Cubs have the second lowest bullpen ERA in the National League thus far, so runs will be coming at a premium late in the ballgame for the Cardinals.

Pitching Probables

Friday: RHP John Lackey (4-5, 5.18) vs. RHP Lance Lynn (4-3, 2.93)

Saturday: LHP Jon Lester (3-3, 3.86) vs. RHP Mike Leake (5-3, 2.24)

Sunday: RHP Kyle Hendricks (4-3, 3.75) vs. RHP Michael Wacha (2-3, 3.99)

How to Watch / Listen

Friday: CSN-Chicago / MLB Network (Out of Market Only), Radio: WSCR-670AM

Saturday: TV: WGN, Radio: WSCR-670AM

Sunday: TV: ESPN, Radio: WSCR-670AM

Series Predictions

Friday: Dexter Fowler is charged up after receiving his 2016 World Series Championship ring in his first appearance at Wrigley Field as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals, and has a strong game to back Lance Lynn as the Cubs fall to the Cardinals in game one of the series.

Saturday: Mike Leake continues his 2017 dominance as he limits the Cubs’ struggling offense to just one run over eight innings as the Cardinals hand the Cubs their eighth consecutive loss of the season on Saturday.

Sunday: The Cubs go slump busting on Sunday in the series finale as they shell Michael Wacha and cruise to their first victory in well over a week.

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