Series preview: Cubs at Cardinals

ST. LOUIS -- The Chicago Cubs begin a four-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals here on Monday.

The series:

Monday: Travis Wood (2-4, 4.75 ERA) vs. Tyler Lyons (0-2, 3.43 ERA) at 7 p.m. CT.

Tuesday: Jake Arrieta (0-0, 2.89) vs. Adam Wainwright (6-2, 2.02) at 7:15 p.m. CT.

Wednesday: Jason Hammel (4-1, 2.45) vs. Michael Wacha (2-3, 2.85) at 7:15 p.m. CT

Thursday: Jeff Samardzija (0-3, 1.45) vs. Lance Lynn (4-2, 3.83) at 12:45 p.m. CT

Key game: It might be Game 1, as Wood is coming off his worst start in almost two years. He’s been giving up too many hits and walked five during his last outing against the Chicago White Sox. And will Samardzija finally get a win in Game 4? The team is 1-7 in his starts despite that sparkling 1.45 ERA.

Who’s hot and who’s not: Cubs outfielder Ryan Kalish has been getting on base as the leadoff batter when Emilio Bonifacio isn’t starting. He has 6 hits in his last 20 at-bats (.300) and has six multihit games this season. Kalish hasn’t played regularly in several years, so it’s possible he just needed at-bats to find a level of consistency. Expect more playing time as the Cubs’ outfield hasn’t been very productive. Samardzija has been as hot as anyone. He has not given up an earned run in two starts this month.

Bonifacio has been slumping. He’s 2-for-13 (.153) since the Cubs left Wrigley Field for the road. His average has dropped to below .300 after a torrid start to the season.