Chicago Cubs Series Preview: Cardinals come to town for a weekend series

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Kyle Hendricks / Chicago Cubs
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

On the slate this weekend, the Chicago Cubs have three games at Wrigley against St. Louis. Game 1 at 1:20 CT, game 2 6:15 CT and another matinee at 1:20 CT Sunday afternoon. The Cubs have a major edge in the season series thus far at fives games-to-one.

Finally, the bats had started to break out in a major way in two of their last three games, scoring 20 runs in as many contests before getting shut out Thursday night 8-0 . The Cubs are 1-9 in their last 10. Obviously, every game is important but this series feels different. The multiple directions this team can go ahead of the deadline add uncertainty to this whole weekend and every game feels like a must-win if we are looking to at all avoid a complete revamping. Nevertheless, let’s break down game 1, 2 and 3 for this weekend as we look to bounce back before the break against the division rival Cardinals.

Chicago Cubs: Game 1 – Wade LeBlanc vs. Kyle Hendricks

The Cubs will take on southpaw Wade LeBlanc in the series opener on Friday afternoon. LeBlanc was recently DFAd by the Orioles and signed with the Cardinals back on June 17. In only 23 1/3 innings pitched this year, LeBlanc has allowed 11 earned runs to the tune of a 4.24 ERA and 5.27 FIP. Nothing crazy split-wise here.

He’s allowed a .265 batting average to lefties while allowing a .288 mark to righties. He is a strike thrower with a low strikeout rate and a low walk rate to go along with it: 5.79 K/9 and 2.31 BB/9.

What I love about this game is the matchup for the Cubs due to the utilization of LeBlanc’s pitch arsenal. Primarily he throws a cutter 28 percent of the time, a sinker 27 percent and a change-up in 23 percent of his pitches. He will also mix in fastballs and a curve to round out the look. Looking at the numbers against this arch type, I am in love with this matchup for two key guys: Wilson Contreras and Javier Baez.

Against the cutter, Contreras has an ISO of .733 and a wOBA of .667 against lefties in 15 batted ball events dating back to 2020. Against the sinker, .458 IS0, .529 wOBA in 21 BBEs since 2020. As for the curveball, .357 ISO, .583 wOBA in 11 BBEs. In not so confusing terms, nearly two-thirds of the pitches Contreras will see from LeBlanc are the kind he mashes.

Baez also draws a fantastic matchup stat-wise. .333 ISO, .563 wOBA against cutters in 11 BBEs. .665 ISO, .545 wOBA against sinkers in 22 BBEs dating back to 2020. Kris Bryant also draws a good matchup as well – although, the certainty of his health is still unknown heading into the weekend.

On the flip side, Kyle Hendricks gets the nod. In his last five starts he is 2-0 with just seven earned runs in 30 innings pitched. Going back to May 16, spanning his last 10 outings, nine of them have been quality starts, pitching at least six innings and allowing no more than three earned runs.

Chicago desperately needs their ace to stay hot on Friday. In two starts against St. Louis this year, he has allowed only three earned runs in a total of 12 2/3  innings, picking up the win in both games.