MLB Picks: Cardinals at Cubs Odds and Series Predictions
by Darin Zank - 5/10/2011
One of the best rivalries in baseball, especially within the National League, begins its 2011 edition when the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs meet for a three-game series at Wrigley Field starting Tuesday night.
St. Louis just took two of three games from Milwaukee, winning the rubber match Sunday, 3-1, behind eight good innings from starter Kyle McClellan, who's now 5-0 on the season. So while the Cardinals lost their first three series of this season, they haven't lost one since, winning seven of their last eight and splitting one.
So at 20-15 St. Louis, through Monday's action, leads the NL Central by one game over second-place Cincinnati.
On the other side of this matchup Chicago just followed up a 4-3 road trip by dropping two of three games at home to Cincinnati, scoring seven runs total in the series and going 4-for-24 with runners in scoring position. So the Cubs are now 4-6-1 in series this season, and at 15-18 sit in fourth place in the NL Central, four games back of the Cardinals.
Remember a few weeks ago when Tony LaRussa got peeved at reporters for asking about the lack of offense during the Cardinals' slow start? Well, St. Louis now leads the Majors in team on-base percentage at .357, which is 18 points higher than the second-ranked Yankees, and ranks second in scoring at scoring at 5.2 runs per game.
Meanwhile, Cardinals pitching ranks ninth in ERA at 3.34 and 10th in team WHIP (walks + hits/innings pitched) at 1.27.
The Cubs rank 12th in the bigs in team on base percentage at .322 and 20th in scoring at 3.9 RPG. And they've scored more than four runs just three times in their last 18 games. But 1B Carlos Pena looks like he might be coming around, hitting three home runs in his last five games.
Chicago pitching, though, ranks 27th in ERA at 4.53, 26th in WHIP at 1.41 and dead last in quality starts with 12.
St. Louis is slated to throw Chris Carpenter Tuesday night (8 p.m. EST, WGN), Jake Westbrook Wednesday (8 p.m. EST, ESPN) and Jaime Garcia Thursday afternoon (2:20 p.m. EST). Chicago will go with Carlos Zambrano Tuesday, Matt Garza Wednesday and Casey Coleman Thursday.
Carpenter finished poorly last year, and is off to a slow start this season. He's winless in 2011, and has allowed seven earned runs on 20 hits in his last two starts, covering 13 innings. And the Cardinals are 1-6 in his starts this year. Last year Carpenter started five times vs. the Cubs, giving up 14 earned runs on 43 baserunners (hits + walks) in 30 innings of work. St. Louis went 2-3 in those games.
Zambrano is 4-for-7 on quality starts so far this year, and Chicago has won six of his seven starts. In his latest outing last Wednesday Big Z held the Dodgers to one ER in eight innings in a 5-1 Cubs victory. Last year Zambrano started twice vs. the Cardinals, and made two relief appearances, covering 12 innings, allowing three ERs on 16 baserunners. The Cubs won both his starts vs. St. Louis. And the Cubbies are 14-3 in Zambrano's last 17 starts.
So we give the pitching edge Tuesday to Chicago.
Westbrook has recovered after a rocky beginning to this season to string three quality starts in a row. Over his last three starts he's allowed five ERs on 21 baserunners in 18 1/3 innings pitched, and the Cards won all three of those games. Westbrook started twice vs. the Cubs last year, allowing five ERs on 16 baserunners in 11 1/3 IP. St. Louis managed to win both those games, and both games played ‘over’ their totals.
Garza, an import from the American League, is also 4-for-7 on quality starts this season, although in his last one he gave up five ERs in six innings in a loss to Cincinnati. So on the year his ERA sits at 4.43 and his WHIP at 1.37. But he does own a 58/13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Garza has no recent history vs. St. Louis.
The lefty Garcia is off to an excellent start to this season, at 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA, .97 WHIP and a 44/11 K/BB ratio. Friday night he threw his second shutout of the season, blanking Milwaukee on two hits, walking one and striking out eight. Last year Garcia started once against the Cubs, allowing two earned runs on seven hits in six innings.
Coleman bounced back after a couple of rough outings to hold Cincinnati to two ERs on four hits in six innings last Saturday. Still, on the season he owns a 6.29 ERA and a 1.77 WHIP. Last year Coleman threw nine innings in two appearances vs. the Cardinals, allowing two ERs on five hits, walking three and striking out seven.
This is the first meeting this season between these two teams. Last year the Cubs took the season series from the Cards nine games to six, but St. Louis won five of the nine games played at Wrigley.
Cards vs. Cubs Betting Odds and Trends
The ‘over/unders’ are 20-14 in Cardinals games this season.
The ‘O/U’s are 17-16 in Cubs games this season.
The ‘O/U’s went 5-4 in Cards-Cubs games played at Wrigley last year, as those games averaged 8.8 runs per.
The ‘O/U’s are 9-8 in games played at Wrigley this season, which have averaged 8.1 RPG.
MLB Picks: Cards at Cubs Predictions
St. Louis is the hotter team at the moment, and has the better pitching. But when a team goes 4-for-24 with RISP over the course of one series, a bettor might reasonably expect a trending back toward normalcy in that area. And with the home team the underdog here we'll go with the Cubs to take this series.
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