MLB Picks: Grab Cubs As They Continue To Win Against Cardinals

Willie Bee

Tuesday, April 19, 2016 12:08 PM GMT

The Chicago Cubs drew first blood in their series at St. Louis with a 5-zip win on Monday, but it's the Cardinals who are MLB odds favorites in Tuesday's second game.

Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals
It was just like old times Monday night for John Lackey in the opener of the series between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. Only this time, the veteran hurler was wearing Cubbie blue instead of Cardinal red.

Lackey worked the first seven frames of a 5-0 Chicago whitewashing, and the Cubs continued their hot start with their 10th 'dubya' of the young season. While it was just the first of 19 games between the two rivals, it was an important first step for the Cubs who have dropped the last five season series to the Cardinals and have been used to losing on this diamond where St. Louis is 57-29 since the latest rendition of Busch opened in 2006.

They'll get a chance to make it two in a row Tuesday evening (8:15 PM ET) when Jason Hammel takes his turn in the Chicago rotation opposite Jaime Garcia of the Cards. The MLB odds have held pretty steady since first being released, St. Louis -125 chalk at Bookmaker. After Monday's match fell short of an 8 run total, Game 2 is listed at 7½.

 

Can Garcia Stay Healthy An Entire Season?
Hammel has allowed just a run on eight hits in his first two starts of the campaign, taking a no-decision in a 3-2 Chicago loss at Arizona before hurling six shutout innings of an 8-1 victory vs. the Reds last Thursday at Wrigley Field. He's walked seven in 12 frames, something of a concern, but managed to minimize the damage by not surrendering a home run and only three extra base hits in total.

The 33 year old has faced the Cardinals four times as part of this rivalry since joining the Cubs in 2014 through a trade with the Orioles, one of those starts coming in the decisive fourth game of last year's NLDS. Chicago managed to win that one though Hammel only worked the first three innings and allowed two runs. The Cubs lost two of his three regular season assignments against the Redbirds a year ago, Hammell charged with seven earned runs over the course of 11 innings.

The knock on Garcia has always been his health, the lefty logging a combined 16 starts in 2013-14 before turning in 20 a year ago with a sparkling 2.40 ERA and very stingy 0.67 WHIP. He has gotten off to a good start this season, the Cardinals coming up with enough offense to win his 2016 debut and Garcia turning in a masterful 1-hit shutout with 13 strikeouts last week vs. the Milwaukee Brewers. Poor defense, including his own, did him in against the Cubs in Game 2 of the NLDS last October vs. the Cubs. He didn't face Chicago during the regular season and, in fact, is seeing the Cubs in a regular season game for the first time since 2012.

 

Mother Nature, Umpire Notes & A Free Pick
Rain could appear today in the St. Louis area, but the scattered t-storms are expected to peter out by game time. Look for a muggy 68º at first pitch with a light SE breeze (right to left).

Gerry Davis has spent more than half his life umpiring in the big leagues, and the chief of Crew A is expected to call balls and strikes this evening. The St. Louis native has worked the plate three times already in 2016, each of the contests finishing 'under' the totals. He had the dish at Busch once last season, a 3-1 Cardinals win with Lackey on the hill vs. the Reds.

I'd love to see the Cardinals even the set tonight, especially since I have Garcia on two of my fantasy teams, but the Cubs are simply on too good of a roll for me not to make my free MLB pick on the underdog visitors.

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Free MLB Pick: Cubs +110
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker