The St. Louis Cardinals take aim at the top of the NL Central division in another showdown with the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. Outside of the opener, it was a tight 2-1 series win for the Cubs when the two teams battled back in May. However, it has been a struggle for the Cardinals with them recently ending a six-game losing streak by knocking off the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. John Gant has received the nod to start at pitcher for the Cardinals against Chicago’s Kyle Hendricks.
Cardinals pitching rotation gets crushedThe Cardinals cycled through six arms on a day where they got tagged for eight runs and three homers. Friday’s loss to the Cubs was simply a reminder that they aren’t going to be winning any offensive shootouts at Wrigley Field.
Any hope of a road upset is going to come from great pitching and a solid overall defensive effort. It remains to be seen if the Cardinals can do either with the team allowing eight-plus runs in three of their last four games. John Gant has to be on his toes when starting at pitcher on Saturday. The last thing the team needs is digging an early hole and putting too much responsibility on the bullpen to shut down the Cubs offense.
Gant will be coming into Chicago with a 2.63 ERA and 1.59 WHIP on the season. Things got pretty ugly in his last outing with the Cincinnati Reds. He gave up seven earned runs in only four innings of work against a hard-hitting lineup. The Cubs are cracking pitches at the plate as well as evident in their 8-5 victory on Friday. They are ranked seventh in the league in ISO (.174) and sixth in average home runs per game.
There’s no certainty the Cardinals could answer back offensively if the floodgates open up on Gant and company. The Cubs have the best home record in the American League for a reason.
A chance for the Cubs to create separationThis is the perfect opportunity for the Cubs to instill a little doubt in the NL Central division.
Like the Cincinnati Reds and especially the Milwaukee Brewers, the Cardinals are knocking on the door for contention. The Cubs are on their home field going into a game with a Cardinals team that is 2-8 in their last 10 outings.
There’s no question which team the momentum favors.
But that all has to manifest on the baseball field like it did on Friday. They hammered away at every arm the Cardinals threw at them and won with their big bats at the plate. It sounds simple enough to just say go out there and do it again.
And maybe it is that simple for a Cubs team that has dominated in their home building.
They didn’t even play their best defensive game, either, and they still managed to come away with a convincing victory. We’ll see if the offense has to bail out Kyle Hendricks as well when he toes the rubber as the starting pitcher for the Cubs on Saturday. He is sitting at 7-4 on the season with a 4.59 ERA in 68.1 innings of work.
His previous win over the Cardinals is often overlooked due to the team knocking in 12 runs on offense in that game. Who cares when you’re dominating to that extent offensively?
With that said, however, Hendricks was impressive in holding the Cardinals to only one earned run in 6.2 innings at Busch Stadium. He’d love to drag up a nice sense of déjà vu in Saturday’s rematch.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Cardinals are 4-10 in their last 14 games against a team with a winning record.
- Cardinals are 3-8 in their last 11 games as a road underdog.
- Cardinals are 2-7 in their last 9 road games against a team with a winning record.
- Cardinals are 1-5 in their last 6 games as an underdog.
- Cubs are 17-5 in their last 22 home games.
- Cubs are 10-3 in their last 13 games against a right-handed starter.
- Cubs are 16-5 in their last 21 games as a favorite.
- Cubs are 17-7 in their last 24 overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Kyle Hendricks kicked in the doors of Busch Stadium and pitched the Cardinals into submission the last time he stared down their lineup. Granted, it helps to have an offense heap 12 runs on the board, along with a solid fielding effort.
Everyone was cooking in unison in that game.
At the very least, that performance should be a confidence booster for Hendricks coming into Saturday’s rematch at Wrigley Field. He’ll be able to stand his ground long enough for the Cubs to eke out a win over John Gant, who is without question a tough out.
But the Cardinals are slipping right now with a 2-8 record in their last 10 games, and their offense is less trustworthy than the Cubs’. Opposing teams are having a hard time winning in Chicago as evident by the Cubs’ 22-10 record in their home building. Gant will be efficient, but the Cardinals’ weakened bullpen will spoil things at some point.
I’m rolling with the Cubs in this one.
Full-Game Total Pick
Aside from a tough run-in with the Reds, John Gant has blanked three of his last five opponents on the mound. So he’ll give the Cardinals the head start they need to at least keep things interesting on Saturday. Kyle Hendricks will match that effort to some degree to keep things much tighter than they were in the opener. However, it’ll be Chicago’s bullpen outperforming the Cardinals’ down the stretch in an effort to close the show and secure another NL Central divisional win. It’s hard to score runs at Wrigley Field with the team holding opponents to an average of 3.42 runs per game. Give me the under in this one.