Photo is credited to Getty Images.
The Cardinals and Cubs will play three games at Wrigley Field this weekend in a series that is their last of the regular season.
The Cubs have had the National League Central Division crown to their credit for over a week now; on the other hand, the Cardinals are fighting for one of two National League Wild Card spots. With wins over the Padres and Phillies on Thursday, respectively, the Giants and Mets remain tied atop the Wild Card standings, while the Cardinals find themselves a half-game behind them.
In the first game of the series – the final Friday matinee at Wrigley Field this season – Jake Arrieta will pitch for the Cubs. Arrieta has allowed eight earned runs over his last three starts against the Giants, Astros, and Brewers, which have equaled 17.1 innings. Though he won the National League Cy Young Award last season and is managing numbers worthy of high recognition again this year, Arrieta is statistically not even the best starter in his rotation; in fact, Arrieta’s season ERA of 2.96 and WHIP of 1.06 are third and fourth among the Cubs’ starting pitchers this season.
The Cardinals will send Mike Leake to the mound. Leake will be making his fourth start since recovering from shingles. In the three starts he has made, Leake has managed two quality outings, including three earned runs over six innings against the same Cubs that he’s assigned to deal with on Friday.
In the middle game of the series, Jason Hammel will start for the Cubs. Hammel is 3-4 with a 5.84 ERA over his last seven starts, but he looked pretty sharp in his most recent outing, as he held the Reds to two earned runs over seven innings and whiffed six.
Hammel’s counterpart for the second game of the three-game series at Wrigley Field will be Alex Reyes. Reyes, with seven scoreless innings over the Giants on Sunday, September 18, lowered his ERA to 1.03 in his 35 Major League innings since being promoted in early August. In the Cardinals’ rotation, Reyes is taking the place of Jaime Garcia, who was moved to the bullpen and serves as a long reliever.
Sunday’s series finale will be played at night and feature lefty Jon Lester for the Cubs. Lester was absolutely splendid in his start against the Cardinals on Wednesday, September 14, one where he shut the Cardinals out to three hits over eight innings and whiffed just as many. Over his last seven starters, Lester is 6-0 with a minuscule 0.72 ERA and 0.79 WHIP.
Carlos Martinez will take the mound for the Cardinals in opposition of Lester. Martinez has whiffed fifteen batters over his last eleven innings, including nine Cubs on September 14, although he allowed four earned runs in that game and two in his start against the Rockies that followed.