The Cubs kick off the final home series of the season tonight against the Cardinals and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. Ben Zobrist leads off at second, Nicholas Castellanos is in right, and Kris Bryant plays third. Kyle Schwarber cleans up in left, followed by Willson Contreras catching and Victor Caratini at first. Jason Heyward is in center and Nico Hoerner bats eighth at short.
They’re facing Cardinals righty Jack Flaherty, who’s having a run similar to what Jake Arrieta went on in the second half of the 2015 season. Over his last 13 starts, the 23-year old has a 1.07 ERA and is striking out 5.25 times as many batters as he’s walking. I’m waiting on confirmation from my stats geeks, but I believe those numbers are strong to quite strong.
That hot stretch includes the August 1 start in which Flaherty shut the Cubs out over seven innings while striking out nine a walking two. There really isn’t much to say about this matchup other than the obvious: The Cubs need to find a way to run into the young ace’s mid-90’s fastball without falling victim to his wicked slider.
Kyle Hendricks is perhaps best suited to counter the Cards in this one, since he has a 0.39 ERA against them this season that includes an 81-pitch Maddux back on May 3. The Cubs have not lost in Hendricks’ 11 previous starts against the Cards, so it’s only fitting that he should make it an even dozen tonight.
Because must-win games don’t get much must-winnier this this one, maybe Joe Maddon should call up that magician buddy of his. On second thought, the Cubs have already pulled a few too many disappearing acts lately.
First pitch is at 6:15pm CT because the game is being broadcast nationally by FOX, with 670 The Score on the radio as always.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 19, 2019