The Chicago Cubs’ stars probably won’t see much action in the finale of their four-game road series against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday. The Cubs can give their top players some time off after clinching their second straight National League Central crown with a 5-1 win Wednesday.
The Cubs are the first defending World Series champion to win their division since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies. While the Cubs’ postseason fate is set – they will face Washington in the National League Division Series – the Cardinals’ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread. St. Louis’ elimination number is down to one, meaning they will fall out of wild-card contention with a loss or a Colorado win. The Cardinals have lost four of their last five, scoring two or fewer runs three times over that stretch.
TV: 7:15 p.m. ET, WGN (Chicago), FSN Midwest (St. Louis)
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Kyle Hendricks (7-5, 3.14 ERA) vs. Cardinals RH Lance Lynn (11-8, 3.47)
Hendricks could be in line to start the Cubs’ playoff opener, as the 27-year-old has been sharp of late. He is 4-4 with a 2.25 ERA in his last eight outings – all quality starts – and hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his 12 outings since coming off the disabled list July 24. Hendricks is 2-2 with a 3.62 ERA in nine starts against the Cardinals.
Lynn has only one win over his last nine starts and is coming off perhaps the worst outing of his career. The 30-year-old was tagged for eight runs and six hits while recording only two outs in a loss at Pittsburgh on Saturday. Lynn is 6-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 18 games (17 starts) against the Cubs.
1. Cubs OF Jon Jay has recorded multiple hits in five of his last eight games.
2. Cardinals utilityman Jose Martinez has reached base in 23 straight games, the team’s longest streak this season.
3. Chicago INF Tommy La Stella has recorded an RBI in four straight games, matching the longest streak of his career.
PREDICTION: Cardinals 4, Cubs 2