St. Louis will play its third game in a 24-hour stretch when it faces Chicago at Wrigley Field on Saturday afternoon. The Cardinals and Cubs will play two games on Friday. St. Louis enters this series on a 12-game winning streak, while Chicago has lost six of its last seven games. This story was published prior to Friday’s games.
Cardinals in midst of crazy runSt. Louis comes into this series as the hottest team in baseball, winning its previous 12 games. The Cardinals swept the Mets, Padres and Brewers during that stretch. They erased a five-run deficit in the finale of a four-game series at Milwaukee on Thursday. Paul Goldschmidt tied the game with a two-run homer and he would add another dinger later in the game. St. Louis is now 4.5 games up on Philadelphia for the final National League Wild Card spot. The Cardinals rank No. 14 offensively with a team batting average of .242. Goldschmidt has a team-high 167 hits, including 29 home runs.
From 5 down to 8 unanswered! pic.twitter.com/8nbB1QwONx— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) September 24, 2021
Infielder Tommy Edman has 160 hits, while third baseman Nolan Arenado has 145 hits. Arenado has hit a team-best 33 home runs. They will be facing a Chicago pitching staff that is No. 26 with a team ERA of 4.85. Left-handed pitcher Jon Lester will face his former team on Saturday afternoon. The veteran, who spent six seasons with Chicago, was traded to St. Louis by Washington earlier this year. He allowed two runs across six innings in a win over Milwaukee on Monday. Lester gave up two solo homers, but he was outstanding otherwise. He is in great form, going 4-0 with a 2.76 ERA in eight starts since Aug. 14.
Sampson making third startChicago’s only motivation heading down the stretch will be to play spoiler. The Cubs have lost six of their last seven games coming into this series, losing both of their contests against Minnesota earlier this week. They dropped two out of three against Philadelphia and Milwaukee last week. Chicago has seven games against St. Louis and three games against Pittsburgh remaining on its schedule. The Cubs have been out of playoff contention ever since trading its stars at the July deadline. They have the fifth-worst record in the NL. Their offense ranks No. 27 with a team batting average of .234.
The #RaceToWrigley 5K presented by @advocatehealth is right around the corner.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 23, 2021
New this year: Run on the Wrigley Field warning track! Register today. 👟 https://t.co/z2jtcq4NMw pic.twitter.com/SeVO74lvUe
Center fielder Ian Happ leads this version of Chicago’s lineup with 98 hits and a .226 average. He has also hit 23 home runs and driven in 58 runs. Catcher Wilson Contreras has 89 hits. They will be facing a St. Louis pitching staff that is No. 14 with a team ERA of 3.98. Right-hander Adrian Sampson will start for Chicago on Saturday. He came out of the bullpen in his last appearance, but the Cubs are expanding to a six-man rotation to close the season. Sampson threw four innings in relief against Milwaukee, so he should be ready to go deep in this start. He is 1-2 with a 2.84 ERA across 25.1 innings (eight games, two starts) this season.
The Cardinals are:
- 5-0 in their last 5 road games vs. a right-handed starter
- 11-2 in their last 13 road games vs. a team with a losing record
- 20-6 in their last 26 road games
The Cubs are:
- 16-36 in their last 52 vs. a team with a winning record
- 4-10 in their last 14 Saturday games
- 8-20 in their last 28 home games
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
This is the type of betting line that bettors should grab as soon as possible because it is not going to stick around at this price. St. Louis has all of the motivational edges heading into this game, including its starting pitcher. Lester is facing his former club and has a chance to really cement the Cardinals in a playoff spot. St. Louis is playing its best baseball of the season, but it cannot afford to let off the gas pedal. The Cubs are rolling out a pitcher who has only started two games this season and their lineup is not threatening.
Full-Game Total Pick
I want nothing to do with the over when Chicago takes the field. It has one of the worst lineups in the MLB now that Kris Bryant, Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo are all wearing different uniforms. The Cubs are not going to be much of a threat to Lester, who is in the midst of his best form of the season. Sampson might only be making his third start of the year, but he has shown the ability to put quality performances together. St. Louis is playing its best baseball of the season, but I would be surprised if it put up a crooked number. Taking the Cardinals at the cheap moneyline price is the better option, though.