The Chicago Cubs will try to stop their lengthy skid when they open a three-game series against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals on Friday afternoon.
The Cubs have lost 12 of their past 13 games, including an 8-0 defeat on Thursday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. The cold spell could lead Chicago to shop key players ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.
Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer acknowledged that much has changed in the past couple of weeks.
“We were certainly fully on the buy side of this transaction, and everyone was calling about that,” Hoyer said. “And obviously people are now calling to see which players are available, so it’s a very different scenario than we expected.
“Life comes at you fast. Eleven days ago is not where we were mentally and, obviously, 11 games certainly changes a lot of things.”
Like the Cubs, St. Louis also has a lot on the line in the next few series as it determines its future. The Cardinals have slipped below .500 and could use a series win against the rival Cubs to strengthen their case to add starting pitching or address other weak spots rather than stand pat or ship off players.
Cardinals manager Mike Shildt knows the stakes are high as the second half approaches.
“It’s there,” Shildt said. “We make a move, we don’t make a move — we’ve got to climb it. Do our very best to climb it, and we will. We’re climbing our tails off.”
The Cubs will open the series with Kyle Hendricks (10-4, 3.83 ERA) on the mound. The right-hander has twice as many wins as any other pitcher on the staff. He won eight starts in a row before getting no-decisions in his past two outings.
In 22 career starts against the Cardinals, Hendricks is 11-3 with a 2.82 ERA. He is 2-0 against St. Louis in 2021, having allowed five runs (three earned) on 10 hits in 12 2/3 innings. Hendricks walked two and fanned six in this games.
St. Louis will counter with left-hander Wade LeBlanc (0-0, 2.16 ERA with the Cardinals), who will make his third start since joining the team as a free agent in June. LeBlanc went 0-1 with a 9.45 ERA in six games (one start) for the Baltimore Orioles earlier this season.
This will be LeBlanc’s third career start and 15th overall appearance against the Cubs. He is 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA against the team during his career, and this will be his first start against Chicago since 2013.
The Cubs want to jump-start their offense against LeBlanc, particularly after they were shut out for the seventh time this season. Chicago managed only five hits in the series finale against the Phillies.
“When you’re in this moment and your playoff odds get into single digits at this time of the year, you have to keep one eye on the future and think about what moves you could potentially make that could help build the next year, the next great Cubs team,” Hoyer said.
–Field Level Media