The Cubs have won five straight, the first three of which came against the team they’re facing tonight to start another four-game series. These two teams are moving in opposite directions when it comes to the playoff race, or at least that’s what Cubs fans are hoping. It’s possible the Cards will have a different roster by the time this set concludes, though the Cubs could also reshape a few areas.
Justin Steele can heap a little more dirt on the Cards’ coffin with another performance like he had last week, when he held them to two runs and struck out nine batters with one walk. In his last two outings against St. Louis, he’s notched 17 strikeouts with two walks while allowing just three runs over 12.1 innings. He’s going to need another efficient performance to go deep in this one because it’s going to be hot and muggy in America’s armpit.
It’ll help if the offense takes advantage of the warm weather to keep the power display rolling, starting with Mike Tauchman and his excellent patience atop the order and in center. Nico Hoerner is at second, Ian Happ is in left, Cody Bellinger is at first, and Seiya Suzuki is in right. Dansby Swanson is the shortstop, Christopher Morel handles the DH duties, Yan Gomes is the catcher, and Miles Mastrobuoni is at third.
Going for the home team is the Lizard King himself, Miles Mikolas, whose last outing against the Cubs saw him allow five earned runs on 11 hits over five innings. He had only three strikeouts, the third game in a row in which he’s K’d that many or less, as his inability to miss bats loomed large. Mikolas has allowed 141 hits over 126.2 innings and should give up his share of baserunners tonight.
The 34-year-old righty is as split-neutral a pitcher as you’ll find out there and he has nearly identical results against batters from both sides. He’s also got very similar home/road splits, so there’s not much to point to when it comes to leverage points. Well, other than his MLB-worst 6.8% swinging-strike rate. Mikolas is also ninth in the league when it comes to first-pitch strikes (67.6%), so the Cubs should be looking to jump on him early in counts.
This is one the Cubs should be able to walk away with, but the Cardinals could react like cornered animals with nothing left to lose. If all goes well, David Ross and Co. will effectively end St. Louis’s season just like they did with the White Sox.
First pitch from Busch Stadium is at 6:45pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
Here is tonight's #Cubs starting lineup at Busch Stadium!
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) July 27, 2023