July 21 Odds: Cubs Will Keep Second-Half Roll Going in Matinee Vs. Cardinals

cubs cardinals

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, July 20, 2017 7:29 PM GMT

Thursday, Jul. 20, 2017 7:29 PM GMT

The Chicago Cubs are finally playing to expectations as they welcome the struggling arch-rival Cardinals to Wrigley Field for Friday’s lone MLB matinee (2:20 p.m. ET).

MLB Season Record: 27-18

St. Louis Cardinals At Chicago Cubs (-150)

Arguably the best rivalry in the National League is renewed in the lone matinee on Friday’s MLB schedule as the Cardinals (46-49) open a three-game series at Wrigley Field against the Cubs (49-45). It’s a 2:20 p.m. ET first pitch on the MLB Network.

Practically half of the NL All-Star team roster last year was made up of Cubs. This year, only closer Wade Davis was selected (and he took the loss). However, that time off for all those Cubs players might have been a huge blessing in disguise. The team limped into the second half at 43-45 and off an embarrassing 14-3 home loss to the Pirates in the final game before the break.

Chicago is 6-0 in the second half in sweeping series in Baltimore and Atlanta to cut the Milwaukee Brewers’ lead in the NL Central to one game and tie a season high of four games over .500. It’s the first time since 1935 that the Cubbies have won their first six after the break and first time ever the first six on the road. They outscored the Orioles and Braves 44-17 and are hitting .316 with 16 homers. Javier Baez is 10-for-20 since the break with two homers and six RBIs. Jason Heyward is 9-for-21 with a homer and six RBIs. Willson Contreras has exploded since moving to the cleanup spot and is 9-for-22 with two homers and seven RBIs post-break. Addison Russell is hitting .409 as well with two homers and five knocked in. Anthony Rizzo has three homers.

It appears that the time off has energized this team – that and last week’s trade for White Sox ace pitcher Jose Quintana. The team ERA is 2.67 during this six-game winning streak. Chicago is the -200 favorite on BetOnline futures odds to win the NL Central but at +400 is still behind the Dodgers (+125) and Nationals (+325) for the pennant.

It’s possible that third baseman and reigning NL MVP Kris Bryant sits this one out. He injured a finger sliding into third base Wednesday in Atlanta. It looked bad at first – Mike Trout and Carlos Correa both suffered major injuries also sliding headfirst into a base this season – but Bryant apparently has escaped with a sprain. He may need a game or two off, however.

The Cubs are 6-3 vs. the Cardinals and swept three at Wrigley from June 2-4. It was Chicago’s first three-game home sweep of its rival since 2006. Perhaps Bryant sitting won’t be such a bad thing as he’s just 2-for-24 vs. Cardinals pitching this year. Randal Grichuk and Aledmys Diaz have been the two best Cards hitters vs. Chicago in 2017, but Grichuk is on the DL (might be activated Friday but has lost his starting job) and Diaz in the minors.

 

Friday’s Probable Pitchers

The Cardinals start All-Star Carlos Martinez (6-8, 3.36). He hasn’t personally won since June 16 despite generally pitching well and St. Louis has dropped his past five, totaling 16 runs in those games. Martinez took a no-decision last time out in Pittsburgh, allowing two runs and five hits over seven. Seven times this season, Martinez has taken a ND or loss despite making a quality start. He is walking too many guys at 3.36 per nine innings and allowing a 34.3 percent hard-hit rate.

Martinez is 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA in two starts this year vs. the Cubs, who are hitting .212 off him with 17 strikeouts. Now I’m almost sure Bryant will sit as he’s 3-for-22 career off him with 11 strikeouts. Rizzo is 8-for-30 with three homers.

The Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (9-7, 4.17) has been rather inconsistent this year, but comes off a solid outing in Baltimore where he allowed one earned over 6.2 innings. He was gifted a seven-run lead entering the bottom of the fifth. He has held opponents to one or fewer earned runs in three of his last five starts.

Arrieta is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts vs. the Cardinals in 2017. Matt Carpenter is an ugly 1-for-29 career with nine strikeouts against his former TCU teammate. Yadier Molina is 6-for-30 with 11 strikeouts.

 

Reasoning For Pick

Arrieta has made 19 starts this year but only six at Wrigley. He’s 3-1 with a 4.01 ERA there. Martinez is 2-5 with a 3.93 ERA in nine road starts. The Cubs have their mojo back, while the Cards are 3-4 since the break and had to travel after playing at the Mets on Thursday. Easy MLB pick here.

Free MLB Pick: Cubs -150Best Line Offered: BetDSI

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