Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Preview and Pick – Ryan Demptster vs. Chris Carpenter

Chicago Cubs (21-16) Ryan Dempster +113, 8 O/U at St. Louis
Cardinals (22-17) Chris Carpenter -123, 8 O/U, Busch Stadium, St.
Louis, Mo, 8:10 PM EST, Wednesday, ESPN

by Badger of

The St. Louis Cardinals will keep their fingers crossed tonight when
oft-injured ace Chris Carpenter makes his return to the mound off the
disabled list when the right-hander faces off against the National
League Central rival Chicago Cubs and Ryan Dempster.

Carpenter hasnt pitched since April 14th, when he was shut down
after just three innings after experiencing pain in his ribs after
swinging the bat the inning before. He went on the DL the next day,
and the Cardinals starting pitching quickly fell apart after that as
they have posted a 6.27 ERA in the last 14 starts until last night.


The Cardinals are hoping that last night was the start of things to
come, as right-hander Joel Pineiro dealt a three-hit shutout as the
Cards took game one of the series over the Cubs, 3-0. Colby Rasmus
hit another two-run homer, his second in as many nights, and Yodier
Molina kept his hitting streak alive as the Cardinals snapped a three-
game losing streak with the win.

The Cubs, who have now lost two in a row after winning five straight
before that, will hand the pill to Dempster tonight in hopes that the
All-Star can stop the mini slide.

Oddsmakers opened the game with Carpenter and the Cards as rather
large -123 favorites on the moneyline, considering that it is his
first start off the DL and that Dempster is the opposing hurler. The
Cubs are a nice value as +113 underdogs on the dimeline tonight, and
the over/under total is listed at 8 at most sportsbooks on the Internet.

As mentioned, Carpenter was only in his 10th inning of work this
season when he was shutdown. Those 10 innings were stellar in the
form of a 1-0 record, a perfect 0.00 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP, but its
getting harder and harder to figure out what Carpenter has left in
the tank after another stint on the DL.

Carpenters career numbers versus the Cubs are strong too (7-3, 3.08
ERA in 14 starts), but again, those happened before the arm injuries
that shelved him in 2007 and 2008, so take them for what theyre
worth. The Cubs dont like facing him on the road either, as
Carpenter is 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts against the Cubs at
Busch Stadium.

Dempster got off to a slow start in 2009, but hes returned to last
seasons All-Star form his last three outings going 2-1 with a 3.54
ERA and 1.08 WHIP. The Cubs are only 4-4 in his eight starts though,
and two of those eight have already come against the Cards.

Dempster pitched in back-to-back games in April against the Cards,
and ended up with two no-decisions allowing 11 hits, five walks and
seven runs in 12 innings or work. The Cubs won the first game, 7-5,
on April 18th, but lost by a 4-3 score just six days later on the
24th in the second contest. In 13 starts lifetime against the Cards,
Dempster is 4-4 with a 4.94 ERA.

The pitching may control the action tonight as both teams are
struggling offensively. The Cubs are down in just about every
offensive category this year and are scoring just 4.92 runs per game
(16th) and hitting a low .252 (23rd). The Cards, who are being forced
to play a lot of rookies in the lineup due to injuries and slumps,
are scoring just 4.85 runs a game and have only scored nine runs in
their last four games.

The bright side for the Cubs is that it appears that Derek Lee is
busting out of his season-long slump. Lee is 6-for-11 in his last
three games and is a career .316 hitter versus Carpenter.

Tonights game is already the eighth meeting between these two rivals
this season, and last nights win gave the Cards a slim 4-3 edge thus
far. The Cards have taken three of the four at Busch so far this
year, but they only took three of the seven games at Busch against
the Cubs last season.

The over is 4-2-1 in the series thus far, but just 1-2-1 at Busch.
The over has cashed in for five of Dempsters eight starts,

Badgers Pick: Carpenter may truly be ready to throw again, but I
have a hard time putting money on it right away especially at -120 to
-130. I just cant pass up the value of Dempster and the Cubs as +113
underdogs. Take the Cubs at +113.