While the St. Louis Cardinals are finally back on the field after more than two weeks of downtime because of a coronavirus outbreak, the Chicago Cubs are also in scramble mode heading into a doubleheader between the teams Monday.
The Cubs not only scratched outfielder Jason Heyward from the starting lineup before Sunday’s game with the Milwaukee Brewers, they also put right-hander Tyler Chatwood on the 10-day injured list. Both were diagnosed with midback discomfort.
Chatwood initially was scratched from a start against the Brewers on Friday and was expected to pitch Monday instead. But discomfort increased overnight Saturday, leaving manager David Ross in search of one more starter against the Cardinals.
Kyle Hendricks (3-1, 3.08 ERA) is expected to start the opener, with the nightcap still to be decided. Hendricks has delivered plenty of success against the Cardinals in his career, going 8-2 against them in 18 career starts with a 2.93 ERA.
Complicating the search for pitching is that the series will also include a doubleheader Wednesday. All doubleheader games will go seven innings.
Starting options at the Cubs’ alternate site at South Bend, Ind., include right-handers Adbert Alzolay and Tyson Miller, as well as lefty Justin Steele.
The pair of doubleheaders this week will make up two of the three games that were lost Aug. 7-9 at St. Louis. The Cardinals actually will be the home team at Wrigley Field for the second game of each doubleheader this week. Another doubleheader is planned for Sept. 5.
Whatever the schedule brings, the Cubs will roll with it, although their early-season success has been tempered a bit with three consecutive defeats against the Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend. It is their first losing streak of the season.
“I think it’s really showing that we’re just basically playing high school summer baseball right now,” Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo said this week.
“That’s how we feel like we’re playing. Just going out and playing baseball and not worrying about if someone’s hitting .500 or if someone’s hitting under .200. It’s just, let’s win, pick each other up and figure it out,” Rizzo said.
The Cardinals had 18 positive COVID-19 tests, 10 among players, with four players still recovering. Those recovering players were placed on the COVID-19 injured list Saturday.
St. Louis turned all of its pent-up energy into a doubleheader sweep of the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, but Sunday was a different story.
The White Sox used four consecutive home runs in the fifth inning, all off rookie right-hander Roel Ramirez, in his major league debut, to spur a 7-2 victory.
Left-hander Kwang Hyun Kim (0-0, 9.00) will make his second appearance and first start with the Cardinals in Game 1. The 32-year-old made 276 starts over 12 seasons with the SK Wyverns in South Korea.
The Cardinals will go with a bullpen game in Game 2. Left-hander Austin Gomber, who has two scoreless appearances in relief, has been speculated as a possible candidate to be activated in order to start the nightcap. Gomber was on the COVID-19 injured list after having close contact with somebody who tested positive.
“We have a lot of games (coming),” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch. “Raise your hand if you can start.”
–Field Level Media