Cubs to Cash Over Cardinals in Opener

Chicago Cubs pitcher Jon Lester

Doug Upstone

Saturday, April 1, 2017 3:28 PM UTC

Saturday, Apr. 1, 2017 3:28 PM UTC

The showcase of the opening day of baseball will feature the World Series champion Chicago Cubs at the St. Louis Cardinals, on ESPN Sunday night and this should be a great deal of fun.

The Cubs are off historic season and the Redbirds are not used to playing second fiddle in this rivalry and will want to get off to a great start, especially playing at home. Let's dig into the details and I'm anxious coming off my best baseball season ever at 206-151, good for +41.66 units.

 Pitching Matchup - Lester vs. Martinez

Jon Lester was close to unhittable in the second half of last season, which led to him having career bests in wins (19), ERA (2.44) and WHIP (1.02). Lester will no longer have his personal catcher in David Ross, who retired, and if his numbers fall off a touch, some will use that as an excuse. After posting so many personal bests, it would make sense Lester would have some regression, but he will still be a tough customer backed with an outstanding team.

Carlos Martinez had breakout campaign a year ago and will look to duplicate or surpass it in 2017. Last year he kept his walks low and only gave up one home run on average every other start, which helped prevent big innings. Martinez was 1-3 with a 4.80 ERA in five starts against the Cubs last season.


Cubs Face First Challenge as the Hunted

Right off the bat, the champions will see how life will be different getting everyone's best shot. Manager Joe Maddon has tried to set up the season the same way by his players having fun and staying loose and this is still the best every day contingent of players any team will assemble. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo are stars and Addison Russell, Javier Baez, and Wilson Contreras might be thought of as such by season's end.

After years of dominance over their rivals, this has to be an uncomfortable spot for St. Louis. They can start taking care of business right away and will need former Cub Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, Stephen Piscotty and Yadier Molina to do the damage at the plate.


Betting Odds, History and Bullpen Numbers

The opening MLB odds had the Cubs as -125 money line favorites with total Un7.5. Chicago held a narrow 10-9 edge over St. Louis last season but did take all three series at Busch Stadium. Last season the Cubs bullpen was 4th in ERA, but first in batting average allowed (.210), while the Cards were seventh in ERA in the senior circuit.


Game Outcome

For MLB picks, not an easy choice with both teams wanting to prove something right away, but I'll side with Lester and Cubs based on their professional confidence and the success Chicago hitters had against Martinez last year.

 Free MLB Pick: Cubs -124Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

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