Chicago Cubs: Cubs in groove, Jon Lester trying to find his

(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

The red-hot Chicago Cubs are in St. Louis for the start of a big four-game series. Jon Lester takes the ball, looking to find his groove.

The Chicago Cubs head to Busch Stadium for the final time during the 2017 regular season to face the St. Louis Cardinals Monday evening.

As Jon Lester (11-8, 4.56 ERA) takes the hill, the Cubs come in red-hot, winners in 10 of their last 12. The team faces what looks like an inevitable opportunity to clinch their second-straight division title over the next four games at Busch.

Seeking consistency

Fresh off an impressive series in Milwaukee over the weekend, and on the heels of one of the best starting pitching efforts of the season, Lester looks to recoup some of that magic for himself.

Monday marks his fifth start against the Cardinals (1-1, 3.28 ERA in four starts vs STL) this season, and tonight will also be his fifth start off the DL.

Since Lester’s return to the rotation, it’s been a rocky go of things.

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In his most recent performance against the Rays last Wednesday, he surrendered seven earned runs and didn’t make it past the fifth, but said he is fine physically.

In two prior outings before that, he pitched six innings apiece and allowed three earned runs combined.

Lester’s last appearance versus the Cardinals July 22 was a dandy. Over eight innings he allowed two earned runs, didn’t walk a batter and struck out 10.

He had a perfect game broken up in the sixth inning by Cardinals’ starter Adam Wainwright.

Rookie sensation

For St. Louis, Luke Weaver (7-1, 2.05 ERA) will look to continue his roll since joining the rotation full-time, as he goes for his eighth-consecutive win. Weaver took Wainwright’s spot, who went down with injury.

During the month of September, Weaver is 4-0, 1.52 ERA. He was 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in July.

While Weaver has faced the Giants, Pirates, and Reds twice, he has still pitched very well, including not waking a batter over his last three starts, and only allowing four earned runs for the month.

Weaver’s seven-game winning streak is the longest by a Cardinal since Matt Morris won eight in a row in 2001. Ted Wilks also won seven-straight starts as a rookie in 1944.

This will be Weaver’s first start against the Cubs since he made his ML debut against them Aug. 13, 2016.

Best second-half offense

The Chicago Cubs have had quite the offensive-surge since the All-Star Break.

So much so, they lead Major League Baseball in RBI, batting average, on-base, slugging, and OPS. Chicago is second in the National League in home runs.

For the year, the Cubs are 11-4 against the Cardinals, and a third-straight trip to the postseason would be the first for the franchise since 1906-08. With their magic number at two, and the Brewers off Monday, Chicago’s earliest possible clinch date is Tuesday.

Next: Why John Lackey shouldn’t be on the playoff roster

What’s next

Tuesday the series between the division rivals continues. Jake Arrieta will make his second start off the DL, opposing Carlos Martinez (12-11, 3.63 ERA).

First pitch at Busch Stadium is slated for 7:15 pm C.T.