Chicago Cubs at St. Louis Cardinals Pick 9/28/19
Chicago Cubs (83-77) at St. Louis Cardinals (90-70)
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, September 28
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Moneyline: CHC +170/STL -185 (BetNow)
Runline: Cubs +1.5/Cards -1.5
Expect the Unexpected
Well, that certainly came from out of nowhere. St. Louis had beaten Chicago all season long when the teams had met in Missouri, and the Cubs entered with nothing to play for and riding a nine-game losing streak on Friday. All of that ended Friday as Chicago lowered the boom on St. Louis to keep the pressure on the Cardinals over the final two games of the regular season. St. Louis holds a one-game lead on Milwaukee for the NL Central title, and with it not only comes the ability to stay out of the NL Wild Card Game but the chance to match up against Atlanta instead of Los Angeles in the NLDS. While the Braves are also an excellent team, they don’t present the same challenge that the Dodgers do as the two-time defending National League champions.
However, Friday showed that the Cubs have no intention of letting their ancient rivals skate into the NLDS with a free ride. Chicago might have taken itself out of the playoff race with its struggles in October, but the Cubs still have enough for one last series and would love to make their rival’s road as complicated as possible.
Cardinal Red Hot
Jack Flaherty has gotten much of the attention for St. Louis as its top pitcher in the second half of the season, and rightfully so, but the Cardinals’ long-time ace Adam Wainwright has also stepped up nicely when it has mattered most to his team. In his last six starts, all six games have ended up going to the Cardinals, and many of those games haven’t been particularly close. Only San Francisco’s final margin of defeat even ended up being a save situation until Wainwright’s most recent start, a 9-7 win over Arizona where Wainwright gave up five runs over five innings and looked human in the process. This game, then, marks an excellent chance for him to tune up what went wrong during that start and ensure that he’s ready to go whenever the Cardinals begin their run at another World Series.
The injury problems for Cole Hamels mirror that of his team. Hamels has spent much of September dealing with a shoulder injury, and the fallout from it has hurt the pitcher’s efforts for his squad. He was scratched from his most recent start, but he wasn’t getting the job done anyway before having to skip a start. It’s not that Hamels was necessarily pitching poorly, but handing the game off to the bullpen in the fourth inning isn’t what you expect when you send a pitcher like Hamels to the mound. What the Cubs have gotten is losses in four of five when he’s gone to the hill, and the last one was the game that aggravated his shoulder, even if his team did win.
For the first 12 games of this series in 2019, this was a matchup dominated by the home team. The Cubs won all of the first six games at Wrigley, and their win at Busch Stadium on August 1 put the rivals in a first-place tie and marked the only time in the first 12 that the visiting team had won a game.
Times have changed. The Cardinals followed that up by sweeping the Cubs in a four-game series in Chicago that essentially ended the Cubs’ chances at the playoffs. That’s given the Cardinals a 10-7 series lead, leaving the Cubs with nothing to do but play spoiler.
- The Cubs are 1-9 in their past ten against the NL Central.
- The Cubs are 1-4 in Hamels’ past five starts.
- The Cardinals are 13-3 in Wainwright’s last 16 starts.
- The Cardinals are 7-1 in Wainwright’s past eight home starts against the Cubs.
- The under is 9-2 in the teams’ past 11 meetings in St. Louis.
- The under is 4-1 in Hamels’ past five Saturday starts.
- The under is 7-1 in Keuchel’s past eight road starts.
The forecast first-pitch temperature of 73 degrees creates the ideal baseball weather in eastern Missouri.
Motivation does not appear to be in question for the Cubs, who seem to want nothing more than to ruin their rival’s season and make them deal with both the Brewers and the Nationals before getting into the main draw of the postseason. But St. Louis has plenty of motivation to be able to set its rotation, and it has its most reliable starter going to the hill in Wainwright. A win here and a Brewers loss would seal up the Central for St. Louis, so expect the Cardinals to come out with their best and try to take all uncertainty out of the equation. Go with the Cardinals to get the win they need to put themselves up against the Braves in round one.
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