Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Pick 7/31/19
Chicago Cubs (56-50) at St. Louis Cardinals (57-49)
When: 8 p.m., Wednesday, July 31
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Moneyline: CHC -110/STL +100 (BetAnySports)
Runline: Cubs -1.5/Cardinals +1.5
Starting Pitchers: Kyle Hendricks (7-8, 3.26 ERA, 1.13 WHIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (7-10, 4.19 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Close Shave Cubbies
Chicago’s bullpen has been needed far more often than usual as of late, as the Cubs have played more than their share of close games in the past two weeks of the season. Of the Cubs’ previous 12 games, ten would have been a save situation if a reliever had entered the game at that point, and a mere one run has decided seven of those ten.
Playing so many close games hasn’t seen Chicago figure out how to get on the right side of these contests, however: the Cubs have dropped six of eight overall and have lost five straight games that were either decided by a run or went to extra innings.
Hard Luck for Hendricks
What does Kyle Hendricks have to do to get a win? At this point, it’s become a pressing question given that the right-hander has dropped four straight decisions and seen his team lose six straight with him on the mound, despite pitching pretty well in most of those appearances. In his past five starts, he hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of them, but the Cubs haven’t given him much of anything in the way of run support. None of those five starts have seen Chicago score more than three runs with Hendricks on the hill, and on three separate occasions, the Cubs managed just a single paltry run.
The last time that Chicago was able to produce more than three runs against an opponent in support of Hendricks? June 9, seven starts ago. Who was his opponent? Of course, it was the Cardinals.
Miles Mikolas really hasn’t had a great season in St. Louis. At times, he’s been truly fantastic on the hill, but too often this season, he’s crossed the line between dominant and hittable, and the results haven’t been what the Cardinals have come to expect from him. This year’s 7-10 mark is a far cry from last year’s 18-4, and it’s occurred because he hasn’t managed to pitch with any real consistency. Only once all year has he gotten his ERA under 4, and while he’s thrown better in the second half of the season, there’s a real concern that the only reason he’s improved is because he’s faced the Pirates twice and the Reds once. The Cubs gave him issues at Wrigley, but the last time he pitched against Chicago at Busch, he was strong on the hill, holding the Cubs to one run in seven innings.
Here’s something you might not have expected between these fierce rivals: the home team has won every game between them in 2019. There have been several close battles (four one-run games out of 10 contests), but the final result has always been the same, victory for the home team. For the year, the Cubs are 6-4 in the series, having swept two series against St. Louis at Wrigley and getting swept in the other series.
- The Cubs are 0-5 in their past five against an opponent who allowed two runs or less in their previous game.
- The Cubs are 1-4 in Hendricks’ past five road starts against a team above .500.
- The Cardinals have won six straight against the NL Central.
- The Cardinals are 8-2 in Mikolas’ last ten home starts against a team above .500.
- The under is 6-1 in the Cubs’ past seven against the NL Central.
- The under is 7-1 in the Cardinals’ past eight home games against a team above .500.
At 68 degrees at first pitch, the weather should be quite pleasant in eastern Missouri.
The one thing that gives me hesitation here is that historically, Hendricks has been the Cardinals’ kryptonite. In his past 16 starts against their ancient rival, the Cubs are 13-3, including 4-0 in Hendricks’ past four starts in Missouri. But Hendricks isn’t getting that kind of run support this year, and the Cubs just have not been comfortable in Busch Stadium all season.
Plus, the Cubs aren’t exactly coming into this matchup full of confidence. Chicago has lost six of its past eight and saw the Cardinals catch them on Monday to move into first place in the NL Central. Two losses to Houston notwithstanding, the Cardinals are the team in better shape and seemingly on their way to bigger and better things. With momentum on their side and even money to take them at home, I really like the Cardinals’ chances to solve Hendricks and pin another tough loss on their rivals. Give me St. Louis in this one and getting +100 at 5Dimes is a bonus.
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