Photos are credited to Getty Images.
The Cardinals have lost five in a row, including three over the weekend to the Texas Rangers. While that was happening, the Cubs were sweeping the Pirates at Wrigley Field in Chicago, where the Cubs and Cardinals will play three games this week. The Cubs upped their lead in the division to fifteen games over Pittsburgh and twelve-and-a-half over the Cardinals.
John Lackey will toe the rubber for the Cubs, who have won three straight. Lackey struck out seven in his last time out, tossing six innings of two-run ball against the Nationals. His counterpart will be Jaime Garcia. Garcia took on the Astros in his last start and allowed three earned runs on eight hits through 6.1 innings.
In Monday’s game, the Cubs’ second overall prospect is expected to draw his first major-league start. Catcher Willson Contreras has been preparing with Lackey since his promotion from Triple-A on June 17. In his first at-bat, a pinch-hit appearance in the sixth inning against the Pirates on Sunday, Contreras hit a two-out, two-run homer to give the Cubs a 6-1 lead.
In the middle game of the series, the Cubs will send Jason Hammel to the mound. Hammel shut the Nationals down to one run through his stellar seven-inning outing in Washington in his last game. Manning the slab opposite of Hammel will be Adam Wainwright. Wainwright took on the Astros in his last start and shut Houston out on four hits in his seven innings of action.
The finale of the three-game set features a splendid pitching matchup, highlighted by Jake Arrieta. Arrieta whiffed eleven batters in his last start, shutting the Pirates down to two runs through six frames of work. On the Cardinals’ side, Michael Wacha will get the nod. After posting an earned run average of 6.75 in six May starts, Wacha has allowed seven earned runs in nearly 20 innings across three starts in June.
CHC: Anthony Rizzo, first baseman. The Cubs’ slugger has recorded ten hits in his last 25 at-bats, including three home runs. In the same span, Rizzo has plated nine runs.
STL: Matt Carpenter, second baseman. Carpenter is batting an even .500 in his previous seven games with an on-base percentage of .645, partly thanks to nine walks.