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Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds
Cubs Odds: +145
Time: 2:10 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.
Jon Lester returns to Wrigley Field in a St. Louis Cardinals uniform to face his former team in Saturday’s Major League Baseball action. Lester faces Adrian Sampson, who has found himself making multiple appearances for the rebuilding Chicago Cubs since the beginning of August.
Lester has had a bit of a resurgence in the last couple of months, but most of that could be attributed to false hope.
That said, will the Cardinals’ magic continue with him on the hill in this matchup? Let’s take a look at this contest and see where there’s betting value.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals have won an astounding 14 games in a row following Friday’s doubleheader sweep. They have been on an absolute tear, propelling themselves into the second National League Wild Card slot by a fairly wide margin at this moment.
No, they’re not catching the Los Angeles Dodgers or San Francisco Giants (whomever ends up with the first Wild Card), but this has been a stellar run.
Lester has also been on an impressive run for a 37-year-old pitcher. He was a pretty questionable acquisition at the deadline for the Cardinals, but has proven his worth of late. Most of this, as stated above, is bound to regress.
Even last month, he had a 5.12 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. His xERA on the season stands at 4.95, so with a successful recent stretch, that number indicates further regression as well. He does throw mostly cutters, and the rebuilding Cubs are not a powerhouse. Yet, given his velocity plummeting over the years, Chicago should be able to catch up to him.
As mentioned, the Cardinals will face Sampson. They have a 95 wRC+ collectively in September, so during their recent hot streak, they have still struggles against right-handed pitchers. Sampson is not overpowering, but St. Louis also only has five hitters above that desired 100 wRC+ mark. The team only has three players above the .340 OBP number as well.
Tyler O’Neill and Paul Goldschmidt have helped carry this offense against righties, and since it is so top-heavy, it doesn’t get the edge over the Cubs.
The Cardinals’ bullpen has been overachieving as well. It has a 3.77 ERA and 4.68 xFIP in September, which indicates they will eventually regress. Either that or the St. Louis magic is real. Alex Reyes, Génesis Cabrera, Luis García and Kodi Whitley have lower ERAs than their xFIPs. These are their best arms currently, so this could factor in against the Cubs.
Sampson has a 2.84 ERA this season. Yes, this will regress as well, but he has only thrown 25 1/3 innings in the Majors this season. All of this has taken place in the second half. St. Louis has struggled against sinker-ballers since Aug. 1.
Sampson throws a 92 MPH sinker, and on sinkers between 91 MPH and 93 MPH, the Cardinals own a .270 xwOBA vs. right-handers. Again, Sampson isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but they haven’t been successful against righty sinkers in the last two months.
Chicago’s lineup has a collective 88 wRC+ in September against lefties, but much like St. Louis, it has a few bats that have hit southpaws well. These names include Frank Schwindel, Rafael Ortega and Ian Happ. It trails off after this, but the club has about as many hitters in the lineup as the Cardinals who can hit this type of pitcher. I would call the hitting a wash in this matchup.
Finally, the Cubs’ bullpen is not very strong. They rank 26th with a 5.70 ERA, but that number should come down a bit in the final stretch of the season, as the relievers xFIP is 4.78 in the category.
Codi Heuer has been reliable, as have Adbert Alzolay and Scott Effross. Now, Sampson will not go deep in this game, but he can manage four to five innings of work, which could allow Chicago to utilize its best arms in relief.
The Cardinals are on fire, but this is the time to fade them. Their lineup, starting rotation and relievers have overachieved during their winning streak, and it should show in this game.
This is more of a fade on St. Louis than betting Chicago, because the market is too high on the road favorites.
Take the Cubs at +145 and play them down to +130 odds.
Pick: Cubs ML (+145 -- play to +130)