The Cardinals are on the verge of being swept for the first time this year as they close out their series Wednesday afternoon with the Cubs as small favorites on the MLB odds.
For several months now, the St. Louis Cardinals have been playing baseball as well as any team in the last 20 seasons, especially on the mound where the club has been minus its ace since the end of April. So maybe the recent stumble is simply that, a little bump in the road and things will return to the way they were real quickly.
Then again, maybe it's more than that and the Cardinals are in trouble while the Chicago Cubs are just finding their groove. If St. Louis is going to rebound soon, today would be a great time to do it in order to avoid their first 3-game series sweep of the season after Chicago took the first two matchups in this set.
First pitch at Busch is slated for 1:45 PM (ET) and is to be delivered by Carlos Martinez with the Cards drawing a -127 price at The Greek. Jon Lester is up next in the Chicago rotation, the MLB odds showing 7 for the total and favoring the 'over.'
Cubs Club Way To Wins In Games 1 & 2
The Cubs lifted the lid on this series with a runaway nine-zip win in Monday's opener, a game that closed with Chicago getting +130 on the baseball betting board. Addison Russell and Dexter Fowler each went deep while driving in three to pace the attack, and Dan Haren enjoyed his best outing by far in a Cubs jersey with seven scoreless innings.
St. Louis put up a little more fight in Tuesday's second game, but Chicago's big early lead was more than the Cardinals could overcome in an 8-5 setback. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo were the Cubs stars this time, leaving the Redbirds teetering on just their second 4-game losing skid of the season.
The series started with the Cardinals having won six of seven at home from the Cubs, and winning or tying each of the previous six series between the clubs. The 'over' continues to be a great bet when these clubs get together in St. Louis, games running 14-5 O/U on this field since the beginning of the 2014 campaign.
Martinez Looking To Pull Out Of 2nd-Half Funk
Lester finished off August alternating bad outings with good outings during his final four assignments, and the Cubs are 15-12 behind the southpaw overall to leave baseball bettors down a little less than a unit on the season. Two-thirds of his starts have come at Wrigley with Wednesday's matchup only the third on the road for Lester since the All-Star Game. Chicago is 5-4 in his away games, Lester pitching to a 3.70 ERA in those 56 innings.
He has fared well against the Cardinals in three starts this season, a 1.96 ERA in 18+ frames a testament to that, but his defense has let him down at times to leave Chicago 1-2 in those contests. Lester made his only career appearance at Busch Stadium on May 6, tossing seven frames and allowing just one earned run in a 6-5 Cubs triumph.
The general consensus is that Martinez has hit a wall as his innings count continues to rise to a personal-high 159.2 on the year. His nine appearances -- 8 starts, 1 relief -- since the all-star break certainly point that direction with the young Dominican sporting a 4.12 ERA in that span compared to a 2.52 mark in the first half. He has made two starts and a relief appearance vs. the Cubs in 2015, St. Louis victorious in all three games despite Martinez's 6.75 ERA.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Vic Carapazza closes the series out behind the plate, and brings a 2-game 'under' streak into the matchup to leave totals 10-14-1 O/U/P when he calls balls and strikes. The New York native got off to a strong 'under' run on the MLB odds before games started going past the totals, and his only appearance under the mask at Busch this year failed to reach the number.
Rain is in the St. Louis forecast this morning, but is expected to clear out by early afternoon. With the 'over' trend at Busch so strong, that's where I'm going with my free MLB picks.