Two teams trending in opposite directions ahead of the trade deadline meet Tuesday when the Chicago Cubs continue a four-game series against the host St. Louis Cardinals.
St. Louis won its third straight game and pulled even at 47-47 with an 8-3 win over the Cubs on Monday.
Chicago has lost 21 of its past 29 games and could be looking to deal several of its veteran stars before the July 30 trade deadline.
The Cubs made four errors in the Monday loss, including three in one inning and two on back-to-back plays by shortstop Javier Baez, but the team refuses to blame its performance on any trade rumors.
“We have to understand that this is a business,” catcher Willson Contreras said. “I know that those decisions, we can’t control, but we have to keep looking forward. And we just have to find a way to keep playing better baseball more than anything else.”
One bright spot for the Cubs has been the play of third baseman Patrick Wisdom, who went 3-for-4 with a solo blast on Monday and leads all National League rookies with 14 homers.
While the Cubs appear likely to be sellers next week, the Cardinals are sounding more like buyers.
Paul Goldschmidt has homered four times in his past five games to lead St. Louis, which has won or split four of its past five series.
The veteran first baseman had two hits on Monday and is batting .411 (23-for-56) during his 14-game hitting streak.
“He’s a guy that I try not to take for granted, just such a quiet get-it-done guy, and he does so many subtle things that sometimes, even me, you just take it for granted,” manager Mike Shildt said. “He does the little things and it just happens and you go, ‘Oh yeah, he’s supposed to do that.'”
After Jake Woodford pitched into the sixth inning in his first start of the season on Monday, indications are that the Cardinals hope rookie Johan Oviedo can deliver similar results on Tuesday, although Shildt was keeping quiet about the identity of his starter.
Oviedo surrendered two runs on three hits and four walks over four innings in a 5-2 loss at San Francisco on July 7.
The 23-year-old right-hander has the second longest streak in games started (16) to begin his Cardinals career without registering a win, trailing only Daniel Ponce de Leon, who set the dubious record last season with 19.
Oviedo faced the Cubs at Wrigley Field on June 11 and received a no-decision after allowing four runs on five hits with five strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. In three starts against Chicago in his career, Oviedo is 0-1 with a 5.79 ERA.
Cubs starter Trevor Williams (3-2, 5.51 ERA) is set to make his second appearance and first start since returning from the injured list.
The 29-year-old right-hander, who was sidelined for nearly 10 weeks due to an appendectomy, served as a bulk reliever against the Philadelphia Phillies and allowed seven runs (three earned) in 3 2/3 innings on July 6.
Goldschmidt is 7-for-18 with a home run against Williams, and the pitcher is 4-6 with a 5.64 ERA in 16 career games (13 starts) vs. St. Louis.
Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado is expected to return to the lineup after receiving a scheduled day off Monday.
–Field Level Media