Bitter rivals will begin an extended five-game series on Monday night with the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. St Louis leads the division by five games at 69-51 after rolling to a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers capped off by a 6-4 win on Sunday as a -117 favorite. Chicago took two of three from the Milwaukee Brewers, missing out on a sweep with a 5-2 loss on Sunday as a +131 underdog.
The Cardinals currently lead the 2022 season series 7-4. Chicago hasn't won a season series over St. Louis since 2017.
Cardinals keep rolling in seventh straight winThe Cardinals have not only taken control of the NL Central but are starting to look like a threat to go far in the playoffs, and swept aside the Diamondbacks over the weekend. Lars Nootbaar got the offense off to a great start in Sunday's finale with a leadoff homer before Nolan Arenado added an RBI single later in the inning, and Arenado later added an RBI single in the seventh that put St. Louis up for good.
Starter Jose Quintana struggled through 2.2 innings, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits and three walks, failing to record a strikeout. Jake Woodford picked up the win in relief with 1.1 scoreless frames, while Giovanny Gallegos recorded his 12th save. Brendan Donovan was on base three times including a double and scored a run.
“He knows when to take the shots and when to just take whatever is given to him,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said about Arenado via the Associated Press. “That’s a perfect example of taking what he’s given.”
The Cardinals are up a big amount on the money line for the season while going a stellar 68-52 on the run line. Overs are 57-59-4 for the Cardinals, with three of their last four games going over the betting total.
This is the fourth-highest scoring offense in baseball at 4.87 runs per game on a .753 OPS that is also within the top five. St. Louis pitching is closer to the middle of the pack with a 3.84 ERA including a mark of 3.76 from the bullpen.
Paul Goldschmidt is the current NL MVP favorite with a .341/.422/.640 line, 31 homers and 100 RBI. Arenado isn't far behind, accumulating 6.2 WAR on a .298/.361/.558 line with 25 homers and 78 driven in.
Trade acquisition Jordan Montgomery will make his 25th start overall and fourth in a Cardinals uniform, hoping to continue a solid season as he's 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA across 131.1 innings. The 29-year-old has been great since joining the Cardinals, and beat the Colorado Rockies with 5.2 innings of one-run ball, allowing six hits and no walks while piling up eight strikeouts.
St. Louis is mostly healthy, although starting pitchers Jack Flaherty (strained shoulder) and Steven Matz (torn MCL) are out. Relievers Drew VerHagen (hip surgery) and Alex Reyes (shoulder surgery) are done for the year. Catcher Yadier Molina is on the restricted list.
Cubs five-game winning streak comes to an endChicago has been playing strong baseball for a rebuilding team lately, but still couldn't quite close out the sweep against Milwaukee with a loss on Sunday. Ian Happ homered in the first before Seiya Suzuki went deep in the fourth, yet that was it for the offense and Milwaukee rallied with a combined five runs in the last three innings.
Starter Justin Steele was outstanding with six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out nine. The bullpen melted down, with Brandon Hughes getting charged with a blown save and Rowan Wick taking the loss. Suzuki had a three hit game with a double, an RBI and a run scored.
“From where he’s come from early in the season, it just feels like you’re getting that performance every time he steps foot on the mound, all the way around,” manager David Ross said to the Associated Press about Steele.
The Cubs are down a huge amount overall on the money line while going 62-58 on the run line. Overs are 52-59-9 for Chicago, and only two of its last nine games have gone under the betting total.
Chicago's offense is in the bottom 10 at 4.21 runs per game despite posting an above-average .713 OPS as a team. It hasn't gone as well for the pitching staff, which owns a 4.21 ERA including a mark of 3.98 out of the bullpen.
Willson Contreras is Chicago's best hitter with an .835 OPS, 20 homers and 52 driven in. Nico Hoerner leads the Cubs position players with 3.5 WAR, batting .296/.345/.418 with 14 stolen bases, 39 RBI and 38 runs scored.
Drew Smyly is set to make his 17th start of the year, having gone 5-6 with a 3.67 ERA over 76 solid innings. The 33-year-old veteran went 5.1 innings against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, allowing two runs on four hits and no walks with four strikeouts.
Outfielders Michael Hermosillo (strained quad) and Jason Heyward (knee inflammation) are out. The rotation is beaten up with Adbert Alzolay (strained lat), Kyle Hendricks (strained shoulder), Wade MIley (strained shoulder), Alec Mills (strained back) and Keegan Thompson (back tightness) sidelined. Relievers Codi Heuer (Tommy John surgery), Ethan Roberts (Tommy John surgery), Manuel Rodriguez (strained elbow) and Brad Wieck (Tommy John surgery) are out.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While the Cubs have played solid baseball since the All-Star break, taking on the surging Cardinals is a surefire way to end their hot streak. Montgomery has found plenty of success with his new team, while the Cubs aren't quite good enough offensively or in the bullpen to keep up.
Chicago's bullpen melted down on Sunday and is currently ranked well below average in every stat as it spoiled another strong effort from the starting pitching, a theme that has become too common this year. This series will provide a tough assignment, as the Cardinals rank third in baseball with a 115 wRC+ and have only gotten better at the plate in recent weeks
Montgomery remains rock solid at an 85 ERA- / 91 FIP- as he continues to find success by limiting both walks and hard contact allowed. Chicago has been a solid bet lately, but St. Louis is just too good with Montgomery on the hill right now.
Full-Game Total Pick
Montgomery is only going to get better after trade as he's a contact pitcher and is now with a St. Louis team that has a strong argument as the best defensive unit in the game. The Cubs aren't good enough offensively to do much damage, posting a below-average 99 wRC+ on the year.
Smyly is solid enough, posting an 89 ERA- as he has still shown good control even entering his mid-30s. With both starting pitchers turning in good performances lately, this one is headed for an under.