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The Cubs And Cardinals Are Playing The Biggest Series Of The 2019 MLB Season (Live Blog)

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It’s officially Go Time for the Chicago Cubs.

I know we’ve been pulling the fire alarm since last year’s melt down and making a big deal out of everything. I know spring training was certainly geared that way, and not for nothing – Joe and Theo have repeatedly made it clear through the media that they’ve got a fire under their ass this year.

Sure.

We’ve been listening the whole time and honestly everyone’s kinda rolled their eyes. It’s a 162 game season and really no way around the monotony. Especially early in the season when everyone’s dragging ass / starting the year 2-7. And especially watching the club limp to the 1st half finish line.

The reality is 162 games mixed with the modern baseball player mixed with the way the Cubs want to manage their roster mixed with the traveling circus that follows the Cubs everywhere and it becomes nearly impossible to maintain any level of consistent intensity. That’s why it’s important to just be flat out better than your competition so you don’t have to fret about things like Attitude and Effort but I digress. Let’s stay on topic which is this:

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It’s fucking go time ladies.

There’s 57 games to play with slightly more than 2 months left on the calendar. If ever there was a time to get locked in and play your best baseball, now would be it:

The roles are clearly established. The defense is primarily set. The starting pitching is showing up every single night. It’s time to put up or shut up and historically speaking I’m delighted it’s Joe, Anthony, Kris, Javy, Willson, Jon and both Kyles leading the way. Like yeah it sucks that the Cubs aren’t better because generally and realistically they should be better but they’re not. So we gotta deal with it and hope the lineup clicks and we get all the pieces moving at the right time. Too often it’s seemed we can’t get everyone rolling together and who better to light that fire than Adam Wainwright so let’s get to the game previews.

Tuesday: Darvish vs. Wainright

I am obsessed with Yu Darvish right now and that largely has to do with how loudly and boldly I’ve supported his 2019 resurgence. My brain just couldn’t get over Theo giving him $126M and then him just being a large bowl of mashed potatoes. Theo’s going to Cooperstown for a reason (probably not signing free agents if we’re being honest) and I was willing to say Yu couldn’t be THAT terrible on the basis of Theo’s trust. He’s the guy someone like me follows and I’m certainly not folding over a handful or 20 of bad starts.

The juice has been worth the squeeze. Darvish has been electric over his last couple outings with 52 strikeouts in his last 42 innings against 28 hits. That’s the mix you pay for and probably more important has been his fastball velocity (97+ consistently) and command/control (7 walks total in his last 7 starts).

Taking it a step further, the Cardinals big meat at 234 usually goes Righty-Righty-Righty in DeJong, Goldschmidt and Ozuna. While those guys are objectively fucking awesome, Darvish is about 30% better against righties than lefties (.606 OPS against). The Cardinals will likely stack lefties around that core making it virtually impossible for our bullpen to dominate.

Opposite that, Wainwright’s clinging on for dear life in his age-37 season. He’s shown he can still dominate – notably in his 8 innings last time out against the Cubs where gave up 2 hits and struck out 8. But he’s also just lost so much of the stuff that made him an annual Cy Young contender. He’ll compete his balls off, especially under the circumstances. So that means he won’t throw cupcake dick shots on 2-0 and 3-1. That’s just his nature as a mean, nasty veteran pitcher. But the other thing is he’s just not that good so I’m not overly scared that if he happens to be locked-in, the Cubs won’t handle him.

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You mix in all these circumstances and the fact the Cubs got shit on in nearly identical circumstances last time they played Wainwright in STL and you just have to feel good.

Wednesday: Hendricks vs. Mikolas

I like Mikolas a lot as a baseball guy but not nearly as much as Hendricks. I would expect this game to take well under 2 hours as both pitchers are like iron mike pitching machines. Just one ball after the other all in the same rhythm and tempo. It’s a beautiful thing to watch when it’s on but let’s hope not the case for Mikolas.

He’s got a nice mix of what I would call the kitchen sink, and you can chalk that up to his years in Japan. He adapted his game to succeed there, then came back last year and has been the consummate workhorse since. His stuff isn’t overwhelming save for a plus curve, but it’s good enough to fill up the strike zone while missing barrels so riddle me that.

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Then opposite him is a guy who eats the St. Louis Cardinals for breakfast. Over his last 5 games against STL, Kyle Hendricks has gone 4-0 averaging 7 innings, 6 hits, 0 walks and 5 strikeouts. That’s your classic Kyle Hendricks line and a good reason I’m confident the Cubs can build some momentum this weekend provided Yu shows up tonight.

Not to get ahead of myself though. Just teasing out some series thoughts so don’t get all cranky if you think I’m jumping the gun.

Thursday: Lester vs. Flaherty

The Cardinals would love for Flaherty to be more like Lester and that should be no surprise. Lester is your textbook #1 and the guy I want pitching every game 3 in a 3-game series from here on out. Not really but you should get the point:

Game 3 is so important because it’s routinely the travel day or leads into an off day. Also important if you lost the first two games of the series or even more importantly, you’re going for a series win after a 1-1 split to the first 2.

When that’s the case, no one you want more out there than Jon Lester except for maybe like 15-17 other starting pitchers but they don’t play for the Cubs so fuck them.

Point is Jon Lester is a bad man and you should be delighted he’s going game 3.

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*Lineup previewing coming to a @barstoolcarl twitter profile near you soon