Series Preview: Chicago Cubs (38-53) at St. Louis Cardinals (47-45)

The Cardinals continue their streak of being the reverse-Diamondbacks this season, sitting at 2 games above .500 despite the best run differential in the National League. Clearly they are missing Ryan Theriot's clubhouse presence.

Team Overviews

NL Rank in parentheses

  Cubs Cardinals
wOBA .299 (13th) .334 (2nd)
BSR 2.8 (5th) -2.3 (11th)
UZR 11.9 (3rd) -18.5 (14th)
DRS +18 (4th) 0 (5th)
SP FIP 4.03 (12th) 3.44 (2nd)
RP FIP 4.74 (16th) 4.40 (15th)

Cubs bullpen watch: the Cubs pen still has the worst numbers in the majors. The next worst is the Blue Jays at 4.45. After factoring park adjustments, etc., the Cubs pen has been worth -1.1 WAR, and the next worst is the Cards at -0.9. Expect to see many runs scored late in this series.

Position Players

The Cardinals offense has five players who have posted double digit wRAA in Allen Craig (15.3 in less limited duty than I thought), Matt Holliday (22.8), Carlos Beltran (18.4), Yadier Molina (16.5), and postseason hero David Freese (14.3). Lance Berkman has also hit the ball well when he's managed to get on the field. Even Skip Schumaker has a .350+ wOBA. The team can hit. Only middle infielders Daniel Descalso and Rafael Furcal have had below average years at the plate.

Injury Update

The most notable Cardinals injury is to the Good Chris Carpenter, who is donezo for the year after having shoulder surgery yesterday. He was working his way back from an injury in spring training but the weakness in his shoulder did not go away in his rehab. The Cardinals are also without Jaime Garcia, who strained his shoulder in the beginning of June. He's not expected back for another month. Kyle McClellan hit the DL in May with elbow problems, and then developed a season-ending shoulder injury during his rehab. Matt Holliday is day to day after being hit by a pitch last week, and Lance Berkman is still bouncing back from his knee surgery.

Probable Pitchers

Friday: Ryan Dempster, RHP (1.86, 3.13, 3.71, 3.90) vs Kyle Lohse, RHP (2.80, 3.70, 4.23, 3.91), 7:15 PM CT

You might have heard this before, but this could be Dempster's last start for the Cubs. Rumors continue to swirl around Dempster but the Cubs still might keep him around for the chance at the sandwich round pick in next year's draft. He's currently riding a 33 inning scoreless streak and would be a great pickup for any team that wants to give up a top prospect for him (please!).

Lohse is having yet another bafflingly good year as a Cardinal, he's never been one to strike out many batters, but the biggest difference since coming to the Cardinals has been his sudden ability to suppress HRs. He had a bad year in 2010 (6.55 ERA), but a large part of that was his shockingly low 59% strand rate and an injury.

Saturday: Matt Garza, RHP (4.02, 4.16, 3.56, 3.71) vs Jake Westbrook, RHP (3.82, 3.61, 3.70, 3.94), 6:15 PM CT (FOX)

Speaking of players probably making their last start, Garza shut out the DBacks for seven innings in his last start. His peripherals are looking good this season, hopefully any potential trade partners take note that his GB% is even better than last year's, and his HR rate is inflated by a 16.3% HR/FB ratio.

Westbrook is doing Westbrook things this year, killing worms and keeping the ball in the park. His walk rate, a big problem early in last season, has dropped to the All-Star levels that he posted when he was an elite pitcher with Cleveland.

Sunday: Travis Wood, LHP (3.92, 4.88, 4.53, 4.20) vs Lance Lynn, RHP (3.27, 3.24, 3.35, 3.72), 1:15 PM CT

Travis Wood put together a great stretch of pitching in the seven starts since his disatrous four HR start against the Padres. However, he was wrecked for eight runs at the hands of the Marlins in his last start. His strikeout and walk rates are right in line with what he gave the Reds last year, and while he's still a FB pitcher he's seen a rise in his GB rate this year.

Lynn's having a fantastic rookie season, striking out a ton of batters and posting a 3.24 FIP, but most of the groundswell for his All-Star candidacy was derived from his double digit win total. He's at 110 innings after pitching about that many last year, so fatigue should be setting in soon.

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About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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