Labor Day finds the Chicago Cubs in St. Louis to begin a series with the rival Cardinals, and we're previewing the contest in advance of the MLB odds being released.
It's allegedly a holiday set aside to remember the hard-working men and women down there in the trenches keeping this great country going and doing the dirty jobs. At least that's the rhetoric that will spew forth from the politicians giving speeches today.
What Labor Day really means this year is the first full week of a perfect storm in North American sports as the NFL kicks its season off one week after college football arrived, all while Major League Baseball begins it's final push towards the playoffs. Two rivals that are headed towards the postseason help us not to totally forget about baseball on Monday when the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals collide for a 2:15 PM (ET) contest in Arch City.
The clash features a couple of righthanders on the hill in Dan Haren for Chicago and Lance Lynn for the Cards. The shuffling of St. Louis's rotation over the weekend was likely behind the reason this game remains off the baseball betting board; SBR's live MLB odds will have the numbers as soon as they're released.
Monday begins the final regular season series between the clubs at Busch Stadium III where the Cardinals own a 52-34 advantage since the park opened in 2006. They've added to that dominance by winning six of the seven on this diamond in 2015, and taking five of the last six series played in St. Louis, splitting the other. An 'over' trend at Busch that started last year continued earlier this season when the first three games on this field went past the MLB odds. Three of the four subsequent matchups never made it to the totals, leaving scoreboard wagering 12-5 O/U since the beginning of 2014.
Haren Finding Cubs Life Tough On Road
After dropping three successive series, Chicago (78-57, +8.4 units) starts this road trip off a weekend sweep of the Diamondbacks to maintain a 7½-game lead for the second National League Wild Card. This 11-game journey includes a stop in Philadelphia before a big 4-game set at Pittsburgh next week.
Chicago has split Haren's six starts since he arrived from Miami at the trade deadline, winning all three at Wrigley Field and losing all three on the road. None of the efforts were particularly impressive, and a couple of been ugly like the loss he took a little more than a week ago in San Francisco. Serving up home run balls have been a big problem for the former Pepperdine standout, the 30 homers so far against Haren tops in the NL.
He dropped a June decision to the Cardinals in Miami, and was roughed up a year ago on this mound while toiling for the Dodgers. Haren won't have to worry about Matt Holliday today, however, the injured St. Louis outfielder owning a .308 batting average with three homers during their careers.
Cards Conclude Long Homestand With Cubs
St. Louis (87-49, +27.5 units) wraps up a homestand with this series, and just dropped two of three to the Pirates over the weekend. Even with that, the Cardinals still own baseball's best record and a 5½-game lead atop the NL Central.
Lynn continues to rank in the top 20 among NL hurlers in (2.80), strikeouts (148) and quality starts (17). The Ole Miss alum will be pitching on 8-days rest Monday after suffering a minor ankle sprain in San Francisco on August 29. His last three assignments each went into the QS column, and the Cardinals have picked up the dubya in six of Lynn's last nine trips to the mound. Both of Lynn's starts vs. the Cubs this season were defeats, however, including a rough one at home in May, but St. Louis is 7-4 lifetime when he takes on the Cubs as a starter, the righthander's ERA at 3.39 over nearly 75 innings.
Rain could eventually interfere with this series, but not Monday afternoon when the forecast for St. Louis calls for a 92º reading at game time with a light breeze from the south (out to left). I'm guessing about -145 on the Cardinals with 7-7½ on the scoreboard, and liking St. Louis to bounce right back from Sunday's loss for my free MLB pick.
My MLB Pick: Lean Cardinals
Season: 80-75-3 (+5.45)