The Chicago Cubs take on the St. Louis Cardinals in the finale of their four-game midweek series on Thursday night from Busch Stadium. The first three games of the series have been extremely competitive and with only a game separating the two teams, both teams will be looking to finish off the series in style. On the season as a whole prior to this week's series, the Cubs had taken six of eight games against the Cardinals. For a team that is looking to become a seller in the next week, fans can expect the Cubs to embrace that role and try to move some of their top prospects and minor leaguers unless something drastically changes. The change would start with a win on Thursday over the Cardinals, while the Cardinals can make a statement that they're coming ready to win this second-half of the season if they're able to find a win.
Cubs Eye Rivalry WinThe Cubs have dominated the season series against the Cardinals this year and a win on Thursday would put management in a position where they might not be ready to sell off the team quite yet. Sitting quite a few games back of the Brewers, and without a sniff of even a Wild Card spot, the Cubs might be able to make one final push towards the divisional crown. It won't be easy for the Cubs on Thursday though, with Kris Bryant likely unavailable, in addition to David Bote and Matt Duffy, making it three third basemen in the IL or day-to-day. Add that to two catchers unavailable as well and Chicago's depth is getting tested.
Bryant likely being out is a big miss for the offense. Bryant has led the team with a .264 average and 81 hits on the season, and with Bote and Duffy also out, there isn't someone who can seamlessly step in. Javier Baez will have the spotlight on him on Thursday, leading the team with 21 home runs and 61 RBI. Over the last week, Patrick Wisdom has stepped his game up, hitting two home runs with a .316 average, just behind Baez's team-leading .333 average over that same time span.
According to MLB.com, Adbert Alzolay will get the ball against the Cardinals, needing a win to split this week's series. Alzolay is 4-9 on the year with a 4.59 ERA in 16 starts and is still searching for the form that saw him go 1-1 with a 2.95 ERA last year. Alzolay has made one start against the Cardinals on the year, taking the loss on May 22nd, despite having solid numbers. In that start, he went seven innings, his season-best, and allowed two runs, five hits, and nobody drew a walk either.
Cardinals Offense Starting To GelThe Cardinals will be coming in full of momentum after Wednesday's extra-inning win and if they can make it another win on Thursday, it might be time to watch out for the Cardinals. The first half struggles against the Cubs have been a concern for the Cardinals, but a series win to start off the second half can quickly change those worries. The Cardinals have been one of the teams least impacted by injuries to position players, with Max Moroff being the only one out. The pitchers haven't been as lucky, with four starters and two relievers out for Thursday's opener.
Yadi has the clutch gene 👽 pic.twitter.com/BQoSNcC2dF— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 22, 2021
The Cardinals have some big-name players but they still only rank 26th in runs per game, 24th in both batting average and hits per game, and 25th in home runs per game. The times are changing fast though for the offense as the combo of Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado starts to gel together. Goldschmidt has recently taken over the lead with a .271 average, .339 OBP, and 98 hits. Arenado leads in 18 hits and 57 RBI and has helped give some protection in the middle of the lineup. Over the last week, Goldschmidt also has three home runs and Harrison Bader's return from the IL has come at a perfect time, leading the way with a .438 average over the last week.
According to MLB.com, Kwang Hyun Kim will get the start at home. Sitting with only a 5-5 record, his 2.87 ERA is incredibly impressive and he's only become stronger over the last month, having won each of his last four starts. His last loss was back on June 20th, over a month ago, while his only start against the Cubs came back on July 10th. He was exceptional in that start, getting through six innings, allowing five hits and no runs. If he gets through the fifth with a shutout intact, the Cardinals will like their chances at taking control of that game and leaving town with a family.
The top team trends, according to covers.com, are: - Cubs are 0-4 in Alzolay's last four starts as a road underdog. - Cubs are 0-4 in Alzolay's last 4 starts as an underdog. - Cubs are 1-7 in their last eight road games against a left-handed starter.
The top team trends, according to covers.com, are: - Cardinals are 4-0 in Kim's last four starts on grass. - Cardinals are 4-0 in Kim's last four starts.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Cubs had the Cardinals' number the first half of the season but the new teams look ready to go and unload on Thursday. The Cubs are still dealing with some injury issues and some uncertainty surrounding the lineup and the future of the team. With so much up in the air, it's difficult to get experienced players willing to play in some of these games only to get used to continuing to fade away into the distance against the Brewers. For the Cardinals, the offense is coming along with Goldschmidt and Arenado proving to be a formidable duo, and with Kim on the mound pitching like one of the best pitchers in the division, the Cardinals will like their chances to finish off the series with a win.
Full-Game Total Pick
The over hitting will rest a lot on the Cardinals continuing their strong run of play from their two big bats. Fans have been waiting all season for the Cardinals offense to gel together and now it finally seems to be the reality this offense might be getting strong at the right time. The Cubs Alzolay has struggled this season and won't be able to slow down the offense. Additionally, according to covers.com, for the Cubs, the over is 5-1-1 in Alzolay's last seven starts on four days of rest. In games between the two teams, the over is also 5-2 in the last seven meetings overall.