The casual baseball fan might find the facts for today’s National League Division Series at Wrigley Field surprising. The biggest surprise being that the Chicago Cubs are in a position to clinch their first postseason series victory in 12 years with a win today at home in Wrigley, or on Thursday with a win at Busch Stadium. The Chicago northsiders host the St. Louis Cardinals in Game #4 of the NLDS coming off a big Game #3 playoff-record six homers on Monday while recording a 8-6 victory to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five matchup.
The Cardinals were the favorites tow in the 2015 World Series just a few short weeks ago as they owned the best record in baseball and ultimately closed the regular season with a Major League best 100 wins. Chicago took the series lead on Monday after running St Louis right-hander Michael Wacha from the mound after scoring four runs in just over four innings.
The Cubs, behind two-run homers from Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler and solo shots from Starlin Castro, Dexter Fowler, Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber, scored eight runs in Monday’s triumph. “We took care of Monday,” Rizzo told the Chicago Tribune. “We’ll show up Tuesday and bring energy and see what we do. We’ll be ready to go.”
The final game at Wrigley Field for this National League Division series between the Cardinals and the Cubs will pit Lackey (1-0, 0.00 ERA) against Chicago right-hander Jason Hammel (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs (-125, 8)
Time: 4:30 PM ET, Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Venue: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
Weather: Partly cloudy with little to no chance of rain and first pitch temperatures in the sixties. A 10-to-15 m.p.h. breeze will blow from left-to-right field.
The team that oddsmakers perceived most likely to be crowned 2015 Major League Baseball World Champs now face elimination, so ‘Birds manager Mike Matheny announced a change in his playoff rotation after Monday’s loss. The St Louis coaching staff will start Game 1 winner John Lackey but they also announced on Tuesday morning that the team would not be starting All Star catcher Yadier Molina.
Molina has officially been ruled out of the starting lineup for this Game 4 of the NL Division Series because of weakness in his left thumb. The Cardinals catcher was injured on a swing-and-miss in the fourth inning of Monday night’s 8-6 loss to the Cubs and was eventually removed from the lineup on Monday for a pinch hitter in the sixth inning. Molina missed the last part of the regular season due to a strained ligament in his thumb. He is 1 for 8 with two strikeouts in the series.
Backup catcher Tony Cruz is expected to start and catch Lackey Cardinals in today’s Game #4. St Louis pitcher Lance Lynn originally was slated to be today’s Game 4 starter, but the change was made after the Cubs destroyed the Cards starter and bullpen on Monday night. Lackey went 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Cubs and shut the Cubbies lineup down completely in the Cards Game #1 win.
The Cubs will be without Shortstop Addison Russell, who is out of the lineup after he left Game 3 with tightness in his left hamstring, and utility man Javier Baez is expected to get the starting job at shortstop for the Cubs today.
Hammel was able to register a career high in wins this season but he has been anything but effective since the All Star break. Hammel registered a 5.10 ERA after the mid-summer break despite winning five of eight decisions. The Cubs right-hander was 1-1 with a 5.73 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals this season. Hammel is also winless in three previous career postseason trips to the mound.
The Cardinals have not won (0-4) any of their last four road tests and are 0-5 in their last 5 playoff tilts as a visitor. The team has been good winning eight of their last 10 games when Lackey started, this against an opponent with a winning record on the season.
The Cubs are 40-13 in their last 53 games when their opponent sends a right-handed starter to the mound and 48-19 in their last 67 overall contests.
The road to the World Series title continues today with two big Tuesday Division Series tilts. The WagerTalk team continues their coverage of Major League Baseball until the final out of the World Series.