Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#955 St. Louis Cardinals 7 vs.
#956 Chicago Cubs -105
Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 7:15pm EDT
Written by Ricky Dimon

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#955 St. Louis Cardinals
#956 Chicago
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The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will begin a critical four-game series when they clash at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Thursday night.

Still in the lead

The Cardinals have lost five of their last eight contests but maintained their lead in the National League Central over the Cubs and Brewers at two games with 11 outings apiece to play. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt doubled in the first inning on Tuesday to snap an 0-for-9 slide and catcher Yadier Molina had a pair of hits after going 2-for-24 over the previous seven games. The Cardinals stole two bases to push their NL-leading total to 110. Second baseman Kolten Wong is 2-for-13 over the past four games after going 7-for-12 in the previous three.

Right-hander Jack Flaherty (10-8, 3.05 ERA) is taking the mound for St. Louis on Thursday. Flaherty is much better than his overall numbers suggest, even though they are quite good. The 23-year-old posted a 0.71 ERA in August and he has a 1.23 ERA to show for three September efforts. He has mowed down 10 batters in each of his two most recent outings.

Next man up

The Cubs are preaching the “next man up” philosophy with injuries to key players such as Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, and Addison Russell. Chicago had its five-game winning streak snapped with Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to Cincinnati and it is tied with Milwaukee for the final NL wild-card spot–1.5 games behind Washington–and two back of first-place St. Louis in the NL Central. Manager Joe Maddon has used catchers Victor Caratini and Willson Contreras at first base the last two games in Rizzo’s absence, and rookie Nico Hoerner has filled in admirably at shortstop in place of Baez and Russell. Rizzo’s sprained right ankle will be evaluated in the coming days, while Russell could return from concussion protocol as early as this weekend.

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Right-hander Kyle Hendricks (6-4, 3.16 ERA) will oppose Flaherty on Thursday. The right-hander pitched a four-hitter with three strikeouts in a 4-0 victory over St. Louis on May 3, starting a run in which he is 5-0 with a 2.09 ERA in his last seven starts. He has struck out 26 in 21.0 innings over his last three outings (2-0), including 10 in a 6-3 victory over Colorado last Tuesday. The Cardinals’ Matt Carpenter is just 7-for-41 with 14 strikeouts and two home runs against Hendricks, who is 6-2 with a 3.05 ERA in 15 starts against St. Louis.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Hoerner, the first player from the 2018 draft to join a major league roster, is 13-for-37 with two home runs and 11 RBIs in his first nine games. Schwarber, who has team-leading 37 homers, produced a single, double, and triple on Tuesday. The Cubs lost to Cincinnati on Tuesday, but prior to that they had won five in a row to get back into the National League Central and wild-card races. Their offense scored 47 runs during a recent three-game sweep of the Pirates and eight more in a series-opening win over the Reds. They probably won’t find that kind of success against Flaherty, but it’s still encouraging. Hendricks has delivered three straight quality starts (three earned runs allowed in 17.2 total innings). The Cubs are 4-1 in their last five games against the National League Central and 4-1 in their last five against right-handed starters.

Prediction: Chicago Cubs

Full-Game Total Pick

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Based on current form, a pitching duel between Hendricks and Flaherty is as good as it gets these days. Wong has suddenly gone cold for St. Louis, which won’t help the visitors’ chances at the plate. The under is 13-5-1 in the Cardinals’ last 19 on the road, 18-6-2 in their last 26 against opponents with winning records, 12-2-2 in Flaherty’s last 16 starts, and 6-0-2 in his last eight road starts. It is also 9-4 in the Cubs’ last 13 against starters with WHIPs less than 1.15. Additionally, the under is 4-0 in the last four meetings between the two teams. Go with the under.

Prediction: Under
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Written By Ricky Dimon

A 2006 graduate of Davidson College, Ricky is based in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to joining the Winners & Whiners Staff, he worked with various websites in the sports handicapping industry and is generally a fan of going with the hot hand while in most cases showing a willingness to take favorites and give the points. Beyond the four major sports, Ricky is an avid tennis fan—and writer—and covers the ATP Tour on a daily basis.