The games begin for real tonight with Cards vs. Cubs, & for 29 teams "wait 'til next year" is finally here! Let us take a look at the MLB odds in this one and start this season on a winning track.
The Starting Pitchers
The Redbirds give the ball to one of the very best in the business when Adam Wainwright takes the hill to begin what many pundits are predicting to be another NL Central title and another trip into the postseason for St. Louis. Wainwright will be a force to reckon with if he can recreate another season like 2014 when he registered a 20-9 mark to complement his 2.38 ERA.
However in his battles with the Cubs he is 11-7 with an ERA of 4.08 and a WHIP of 1.288. Those numbers are uncharacteristically high for a pitcher of Wainwright's pedigree especially against a team that has been a weak sister in the division for so long. The Cardinals' team record is 17-10 and +2.4 units in those games that Wainwright started.
He will be opposed by southpaw and newly-minted Cubbie Jon Lester. Lester was one of the prized free agents in the offseason and after a bit of back-and-forth between he and his former team the Boston Red Sox, Lester decided to reunite with his old GM from Boston, Theo Epstein, who felt stifled by the immense shadow cast by Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino. Apparently Jon Lester felt the same way and tonight he will be handed the ball hoping to fulfill all those lofty expectations of this luckless and moribund franchise. Lester completed 2014 with a 16-11 record and a 2.46 in his combined performances with Boston and Oakland.
Jon Lester has had his share of success against the Cardinals though his battles with the Redbirds have not come often due to his previous teams residing in the American League. Jon Lester holds a 2-0 mark against St. Louis, while his teams have a 3-0 record in his starts (3.2 units), with a brilliant 1.19 ERA to go along with a stunning 0.882 WHIP. Now that's domination!
Let's be clear. This is the very first game of the season and there will be a great deal of peaks and valleys not only for the teams but individual players as well. It all seems to even out in the wash though doesn't it? Setting aside injuries the great players remain great until Father Time saps them of their youth which in turn diminishes their speed, timing and skill while the good players have a dozen or so great games during the season and the weaker players slowly fade from view. It's the beginning of another season and we know not what the future holds (we can see the current MLB futures odds trading right now, though) or how these teams will come together so therefore betting heavily on this opener seems a bit absurd doesn't it?
But if we must take the plunge with our free MLB pick here, let us review last year where the Cubs actually won the season series at Wrigley 5-4 and added 1.9 units when factoring in the MLB odds to their home backers' coffers. It appears to me that the Cubs have gotten stronger, their fan base is energized, they landed a prized southpaw in Jon Lester who will be chucking tonight albeit against a premier hurler in Adam Wainwright. This is all adding up to a pitcher's duel against hitters whose bodies may be in the Windy City tonight but their minds could very well still be in spring training. I say the pitchers will be well ahead of the batters tonight which means a low scoring game that sees Chicago sending their loyal fans homes happy.
MLB Picks: Play the Chicago Cubs -110 and Under 7 ½ (-120) at 5Dimes.com.