MLB Free Pick: Cubs Get Nod in Series Opener at Cardinals

chicago cubs

Willie Bee

Monday, September 25, 2017 12:59 PM GMT

Monday, Sep. 25, 2017 12:59 PM GMT

Chicago has reduced its magic number to two and can clinch the NL Central this week in St. Louis, but the Cubs are underdogs on the MLB odds for Game 1 against the Cardinals.

MLB Season Record: 80-82-4 (+1.50)

If the Chicago Cubs blow it now, it will go down as one of the biggest collapses in sports annals, even if it’s only a 5½-game cushion at the top of the NL Central. That’s due, in part, to the fact that none of the three teams vying for the second NL wild card have been able to demonstrate much desire to play on after this week.

St. Louis is one of those teams, and the Cardinals are also among Chicago’s closest challengers in the division. They’ll get a shot to at least delay the Cubs’ NL Central crown – if not deny it outright – this week with a 4-game set in Arch City. The series gets underway Monday (8:15 PM ET) with a mound duel pitting veteran Jon Lester (11-8, 4.56) vs. Luke Weaver (7-1, 2.05). Heritage is favoring youth over experience with St. Louis -120 and 8½ for the scoreboard target.

 

Weaver Has Been A Tough Nut To Crack At Busch

Lester saw a string of 3 straight wins come to an end his last time out, the Rays knocking him around in St. Petersburg with seven runs charged to the southpaw’s ledger by the time he was relieved one out into the fifth. Chicago has split his four assignments vs. the Cardinals in 2017, winning both at home and losing both in St. Louis, where he was a slight underdog on the MLB odds in one and small chalk in the other.

Weaver made his MLB debut against the Cubs last season at Wrigley, working four frames and allowing two runs, both coming plateward on an Addison Russell bomb. He didn’t factor into the decision that eventually went to the Cards. That remains his only experience in the rivalry, and the former Florida State star has been extremely stingy on the home mound in four starts and two relief outings, holding batters to a .208 average and fashioning a 1.35 ERA in nearly 27 innings.

 

Rivalry Trends, Mother Nature & A Free Pick

It has been a weird split in the schedule this season, the first two 3-game series taking place in St. Louis with the last three played in Chicago. The Cubs being this set with 5straight wins over the Cardinals and 11-4 advantage in the season series. The Redbirds did split the first six games on this diamond, and stand 59-45 against the Cubs at the new Busch since it opened in ’06. Totals stand 2-3-1 O/U/P in St. Louis this year, 4-10-1 dating back to 2016.

A little warm in the mid-80s at first pitch, but the weather is fine otherwise for this evening’s game as well as the next three. Chicago has simply been playing better than St. Louis the past week, and too inviting on an underdog line not to play it that way for my free baseball pick.

Free MLB Pick: Cubs +114Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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