A grueling schedule will continue for the St. Louis Cardinals as they play their third doubleheader in five days when they take on the Chicago Cubs for a pair of games Wednesday.
The Cardinals are scrambling to make up games after a COVID-19 outbreak forced the team to sit idle for more than two weeks. St. Louis is 3-3 since returning to play, but the barrage of games has taken a toll on the pitching staff.
Cardinals veteran infielder Matt Carpenter said he and his teammates have embraced the challenge of the schedule.
“If we do make the playoffs, I think it would be an amazing story of perseverance, grit and nothing short of a miracle, to be honest,” Carpenter recently said to reporters. “We’re basically playing like we have nothing to lose because we really don’t. I mean, not a lot of people expect a lot out of us, given the circumstances and what we’ve been through — the layoff, (and) we’ve got guys on our roster that we’re usually counting on that aren’t here with us.
“So nobody’s expecting anything out of us, and sometimes that’s a good place to be in mentally, when you don’t have any expectations and you can just go out there and play.”
On Wednesday, as was the case Monday, the Cubs will be the home team in the first game of the doubleheader but will serve as the road team in the nightcap. That is because the second game is a makeup contest from an Aug. 7-9 series that had been planned for Busch Stadium in St. Louis.
The Cubs went 106 years without batting first in a game in Wrigley Field. Now, they will do so twice in three days.
One player who will not be in the lineup for the Cubs is Kris Bryant, who received an injection on his ailing left wrist Tuesday. The three-time All-Star is expected to be out of the lineup until at least Friday.
Right-hander Jack Flaherty (1-0, 2.57 ERA) is scheduled to make the start in the afternoon game for St. Louis. Flaherty is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 10 games (nine starts) against the Cubs during his career.
For Chicago, right-hander Alec Mills (2-1, 2.84) is penciled in as the afternoon starter, although it is possible that he could be shifted to the evening start. Mills is 0-0 with a 1.98 ERA in four games (two starts) against the Cardinals.
Neither team named its second starter for the doubleheader as of late Tuesday. A bullpen game could be in store for one or both sides as Cubs manager David Ross and Cardinals manager Mike Schildt look to divvy up the workload.
Ross and his coaching staff also have welcomed a closer-by-committee approach in the early part of the season. Reliever Rowan Wick posted his fourth save in Tuesday’s 6-3 win, but several other relievers including Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Jeffress, also could fill the closer’s role.
“I do absolutely believe right now that’s the best way to go,” Cubs pitching coach Tommy Hottovy recently said. “I think just having a group of guys out there that you trust and that want the ball in any situation is just going to lead to us having more success. And I think those guys understand that we trust them all in a lot of different situations.”
–Field Level Media