It seems like everybody is jumping on the Chicago Cubs bandwagon right now, and for good reason. Still, don't underestimate the St. Louis Cardinals in this first game of their NLDS.
MLB odds makers have made the Cardinals a slight favorite from -105 to -111 across the board. You can still get pretty good odds right now at 5 Dimes at -104. For one of my MLB picks I will take them at that low juice.
Jon Lester takes the mound for the Cubs and comes in with a 3.34 ERA, 1.12 whip, 207 strikeouts, and 11-12 record. He's been really solid on the road with a 2.93 ERA and batters hitting just .214 against him. The Cardinals have seen him quite a few times this season and have had good and bad results. In their latest matchup the Cardinals got to Lester pretty well with him allowing four earned runs off a six hits in six innings along with two home runs. He is a grinder and an excellent major league pitcher but the value to me today is to go against him in St. Louis.
Chicago ranks 16th in the major leagues in runs scored per game at 4.25, 17th in OPS at .719, and 29th in team batting average hitting .244 as a team. They had a few really clutch at-bats against Gerrit Cole in Pittsburgh to get the win and they should come in pretty confident today. Still, it's easy to have some confidence with a guy like Jake Arrieta on the mound knowing the other team will struggle to get any runs against him. Today will be a different scenario and I look for the Cardinals to definitely get some runs and put pressure on the Chicago offense.
St. Louis Cardinals
John Lackey gets the start for the Cardinals and comes in with a 2.77 ERA, 1.21 whip, 175 strikeouts, and a 13-10 record. The 12 year veteran has had one of his best years as a major league pitcher and has some solid postseason experience. In St. Louis he has been lights out the 1.93 ERA and batters hitting .252 against him. The last time he pitched against the Cubs was in Chicago where he allowed zero earned runs off a six hits in seven innings, and the time previous to that was at home where he allowed two earned runs off of eight hits in seven innings. Against the Cubs this season he is 2-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 21 innings pitched and they have batted .244 against him, look for another stellar performance today.
Offensively St. Louis ranks 24th in runs per game at 3.99, 19th in OPS at .716, and 12th in batting average hitting .253 as a team. Most of their offensive statistics go up in St. Louis where they have been really tough to beat this season. They have struggled a little bit against Lester hitting just .216 off him this season, but they are 3-1 when he has gotten a decision. This is the Cardinals time of year to come up with some really clutch hits and I expect them to do so today against a pitcher that they have seen a lot.
Great matchup against two teams that are really familiar with each other. With the public riding high on the recent Cubs success I'm in a go the other way and back the Cardinals to win this first game. For one of your MLB picks I recommend backing St. Louis, should be a fun game to wath.
MLB Pick: Cardinals (-105) at Bovada