The St. Louis Cardinals are in the midst of a wild run.
The club has won 12 straight games and is 16-6 in September.
The hot streak has changed everything for St. Louis, as the team has catapulted into the second NL Wild Card spot and now has a 4.5-game lead over the next-closest team.
At this point, it would take a major collapse for the Cardinals to miss the postseason.
Veteran starting pitcher J.A. Happ will get the ball for St. Louis on Friday in hopes of extending the team’s win streak to 13 games.
Happ has been a mixed bag since being traded to the Cardinals.
Will he be able to keep things rolling for the club?
After A Hot Start With The Cardinals, Happ Has Cooled Off Lately
Happ was traded from the Minnesota Twins to the Cardinals at the deadline.
Initially, not many folks thought much of the move, as Happ had an ugly 6.77 ERA at the time of the deal.
But to the surprise of many, the lefty started off his stint with the Cardinals with five consecutive good outings.
He had a 2.22 ERA over his five starts with the club.
Most fans were cautiously optimistic about his early performance.
His FIP was more than two runs higher than his ERA over those first five starts, so there was reason to believe that his success wasn’t sustainable.
And sure enough, he has come back to earth lately.
The 38-year-old has an 8.22 ERA, 6.16 FIP, and .919 opponent OPS over his last four starts.
J.A. Happ after struggling in tonight's start against the Reds: "They got a couple big ones — it happens quick. On my end, I've got to do my best to evaluate that, try not to overthink it and just be ready for the next one the best I can."#STLCards pic.twitter.com/NEEmMuffrH
— Bally Sports Midwest (@BallySportsMW) September 2, 2021
During the poor span, his luck has changed drastically.
Opponents had a .219 BABIP against him over his first five starts, and over his last four, opponents have a .315 BABIP.
That’s a good indication that he was unsustainably lucky over his first five starts and that he has been absurdly unlucky over his last four.
He will likely regress to mean at some point (if there’s enough time left in the season for that to happen).
Happ isn’t as good as he was over his first five starts with the team, and he isn’t as bad as he has been over his last four.
Will the real Happ stand up on Friday?
Will He Get Back On Track Against The Chicago Cubs On Friday?
If there’s a team in the league a struggling pitcher should want to face, it’s the Chicago Cubs.
Chicago hasn’t been able to catch a break since the trade deadline, and the team is just going through the motions at this point.
The Cubs went 9-16 in June, 7-20 in August, and they’re 9-10 so far in September.
Happ hasn’t faced Chicago yet this season, so Friday will be his first look at the club.
#Cardinals Lineup 09/24/21
1. Tommy Edman 2B
2. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
3. Tyler O'Neill LF
4. Nolan Arenado 3B
5. Dylan Carlson RF
6. Edmundo Sosa SS
7. Harrison Bader CF
8. Andrew Knizner C
9. J.A. Happ P
Starting Pitcher : J.A. Happ
— Daily MLB Lineups (@DailyMLBLineup) September 24, 2021
A quality start would be a step in the right direction for the one-time All-Star.
He has gone five straight outings without one.
This may end up being Happ’s last (or second-to-last) start of the regular season, and he surely wants to end on a high note.
Plus, if he wants to be considered for a postseason roster spot, he needs to make his case.
He already has one World Series title under his belt, and if he wants to pitch his way to another, he needs to prove that he’s worthy of the opportunity.
We’ll see what happens.
It’ll be an afternoon first-pitch from Chicago.