When you looked at the standings a year ago in the NL Central – the 25-8 Chicago Cubs had a 7 game lead on the 19-16 Cardinals. A year later the 19-14 Cardinals have a 2.5 game lead on the 17-17 Cubs. The Cardinals, having won 16 of 21 after starting the season 3-9, have a similar record to where they were last year while the Cubs are 8.5 games behind their pace from a year ago. I know it’s just a 3 game series in mid May. I know that their are no playoff berths earned after 20% of the season. I know that no matter what happens this series, the Cards and Cubs will be closely together in the standings. However, this series means something.
The Cubs, 2016 World Champions, have come out of the gate flat. They’ve made 27 errors in 34 games (Cards also have 27 errors too) after having one of the best defenses last year. They have two veteran pitchers who are coming up quite short of last years numbers (Lackey & Sunday night starter Arrieta). They also have hitters who are really scuffling. Addison Russell .227, Ben Zobrist .222, Anthony Rizzo .218, Wilson Contreras .216, Kyle Schwarber .195. These guys are way too good to not hit. The Cubs hitting will come around presumably along with their defense. Their pitching is something that their season will most likely waver on. Consistent starting pitching allows every other aspect of the game (fielding, hitting, bullpen) to take a proverbial breath. It’s been rumored that the Cubs will go after a young, controllable, starting pitcher to help their pitching depth – but at what cost? Will the hangover of being World Series Champions linger into the dog days of summer? I personally think the Cubs will turn their season around. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes for them to start sprinting away with the division.
It’s hard to figure out who the 2017 Cardinals really are. Are they the team that started so horribly, or are they the team that just keeps finding ways to win? After having their first ever undefeated road trip in their 125 year history – it will be interesting to see how they play at home against the champs. The Cardinals haven’t won a series at Busch vs the Cubs since June of 2015. While tonight’s pitching matchup favors the Cardinals, I think Saturday and Sunday are even or a slight advantage to Chicago. If the Cubs find a way to win tonight behind their rookie Butler, it could be the shot in the arm they need to sweep St. Louis and get back to playing good baseball. The Cardinals would be happy to simply win the series after how badly they have played at home the last 13 months, and how it seems like the Cubs have had their number since beating them in the 2015 NLDS. The Cardinals could really make a statement by winning the series and letting the Cubs know that after being pushed around recently by the Cubs, they’re taking a stand. I really feel like if the Cubs win the series it will turn their season around – while if the Cardinals find a way to win the series it could set up a potentially great next 4 months of baseball. Enjoy the weekend of baseball, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mom’s out there!