Probable Pitchers

Courtesy of MLB.com

Friday at 2:20pm EDT – Lance Lynn vs. Travis Wood

Lynn is 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in three outings against the Cubs this season. He threw six shutout innings against Chicago on Sunday — his fourth scoreless start of the season — and he’s allowed one earned run in his last three outings. This would’ve been Matt Garza’s spot, but he’s being skipped after coming out of his last game with cramping in his right elbow. Wood lost to the Cardinals on Sunday, giving up six earned runs over six innings, including back-to-back homers.

Saturday at 1:05pm EDT – Joe Kelly vs. Jeff Samardzija

Despite turning in six straight quality starts, Kelly is 1-3 over that span. He’s allowed an unearned run in each of his last four outings, but homers haven’t helped his case, either. Kelly’s given up three-run jacks in two of his last four starts. He has never faced any member of the Cubs in the past. Samardzija is coming off his best outing, in which he held the Pirates to one hit, an infield single, over eight innings. He had good command, mixed his pitches well and kept his pitch count down. Let’s see what he does for an encore.

Sunday at 2:20pm EDT – Adam Wainwight vs Paul Maholm

Wainwright outdueled Clayton Kershaw to earn his eighth win on Tuesday. His 7 1/3-inning effort was his longest since tossing a complete game on May 22. Wainwright has pitched well for most of two months now but has run into his share of lousy luck. Maholm is on quite a role. He’s posted five straight starts of at least six innings in which he’s given up one or no runs. That’s a first by a Cubs left-hander since 1918. He’s also won all five. And he loves pitching at Wrigley Field.

How to Pitch to the Big Boys

Each series we’ll take a look at the top power hitters in the opposing team’s lineup to establish how to get them out and minimize the damage. Power doesn’t always mean home runs. It can also mean doubles and triples. To examine that, we’ll focus on Isolated Power. The heat maps show each player’s isolated power based on area of the zone. If you’re not familiar with the stat, Isolated Power or ISO is a sabermetric baseball statistic which measures a batter’s raw power. The formula is Slugging Percentage minus Batting Average, which removes all the singles that are included in SLG%. The final result measures how many extra bases a player averages per at bat. By limiting extra base hits, you drastically increase your chance to win the game.

Our Take

By Jeremiah Johnson

Last week’s series against the Cardinals represents the one major blight on the Cubs’ record stretching all the way back to before the All Star break. Did Chicago simply fail to show up in St. Louis, like so much lost luggage?

Or are the Cardinals really that much better than the Cubs? Doubtful. I can’t argue that both teams are on an equal competitive footing, but I also can’t believe that they’re really a +22 run differential ahead of us on any given weekend.

Honestly, I don’t have s good explanation for the complete no-show in St. Louis last weekend. Was it the lingering doubts of Dempster’s impending trade (rumors swirled before the game that he might be traded to the Cardinals, and that he’d make the start for them that evening)? Was it the letdown of surrendering an historically bad 12-run inning on Saturday.

I doubt I’ll ever find a satisfactory answer, but I’d really like to know what made the Cubs completely fold last weekend. Because for all their success against us, I don’t believe the Cardinals are really that much better than the Cubs. And I’m hoping to see some proof this weekend.

Series Prediction: A dramatic, hard-fought 2-1.

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Joe Aiello is the founder of View From the Bleachers and one of the lead writers as well as host of VFTB Radio. Growing up in Chicago, he fondly remembers attending games in the bleachers before that was the popular thing to do. Currently Joe resides in North Carolina with his wife and three kids. Connect with Joe via Twitter / Facebook / E-mail