After a terrible start to the four-game series against the Pirates, the Cubs ended it on a high note. They dropped the first two, but came back to dominate the Pirates in the 3rd and 4th games. They remain atop the National League Central with a one game lead over the Brewers as the final series of the regular season starts. This is it, folks. If the Cubs win at least two games against the Cardinals this weekend they’re guaranteed at least a one game playoff with the Brewers on Monday IF the Brewers sweep the Tigers.
After sweeping the Giants, the Cardinals were swept by the Brewers. They have won six of their last 10, and have a 11-13 record in September. The Cardinals are fighting for their playoff lives — currently one game back in the Wild Card race — so they will not simply roll over for the Cubs. This weekend is certain to be full of baseball drama, and I can’t wait to immerse myself in it.
Today the Cubs have Kyle Hendricks on the mound. The Cubs should be favored to win given how well Hendricks has performed recently. I can see them getting to Adam Wainwright early and often today. Saturday’s game is much more ambiguous. Miles Mikolas hasn’t pitched as well away from home, but Cole Hamels hasn’t been nearly as dominant as he was early on for the Cubs. It should be a low-scoring affair. On Sunday, the Cubs need Mike Montgomery to have a strong outing after he allowed five runs in 4.0 innings against the Pirates. If Montgomery can go at least five, and allow three or fewer runs, the Cubs should win that game and possibly clinch the division on the final day of the season.
Game and Broadcast Info
- Friday, September 28 at 1:20 CT on ABC-7 and ESPN
- Saturday, September 29 at 12:05 CT on Fox
- Sunday, September 30 at 2:20 CT on CSN Chicago
What to Watch for
- If the Cubs can somehow find a way to carry their offensive success from the last two games into this series, they should at least win the series. Look for how the Cubs plate appearances with runners on base are progressing. If the Cubs are selective and not flailing at bad pitches, they should be able to score runs in bunches.
- As a team in September, the Cardinals are ranked 14th in offense with 2.9 fWAR. They are slashing .237/.312/.391 in the final month of the season. Leading the way for the Cards is Marcell Ozuna. He’s slashing .300/.354/.567 and has accrued 0.9 fWAR. Paul DeJong is second on the team with 0.7 fWAR, and is slashing .264/.320/.451. Other than those two players, the Cards’ offense has not been all that great.
- As a staff in September, the Cardinals pitchers have struggled. They have the 9th worst FIP and 8th worst ERA. Their two top starters in the final month are two that the Cubs will face. Miles Mikolas has been the best Cardinal pitcher in September, accruing 0.7 fWAR, a 2.73 FIP, and a 2.81 ERA. In 25.2 innings of work, he has walked only two batters. I was skeptical, initially, at how few free passes he was giving, but he has consistently done that all year long (3.7 BB%). The second top starter the Cubs will face is none other than Adam Wainwright, who might be making his final start as a Cardinal on Friday. While his ERA is 4.15, he has a 3.10 FIP, which is a sign that his defense has often let him down in September.