St. Louis owns the season series with the Cubbies so far this year, and took the opener of this week's series at Wrigley Field Monday night. But this handicapper is leaning toward the home team for Game 1 of Tuesday's day-night double-header.
Cards-Cubs Tuesday Game 1 Betting Odds
As of this writing members of the Sportsbook Review betting market were holding off on lining Tuesday's Game 1, which matches Chicago and Jake Arrieta against St. Louis apparently with lefty Tyler Lyons, because of some ongoing uncertainty about who would hit the hill for the Cardinals.
St. Louis took the opener of this series Monday night 6-0, getting seven shutout innings from John Lackey, manufacturing two runs in the seventh to take a lead, then icing the game with four runs in the ninth. Today's first game is a makeup of a game rained out back in April.
The Cardinals had lost four in a row last week, but have now won three straight. At 54-28 St. Louis owns the best record in baseball, and a six-game lead over second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
Chicago, meanwhile, has won two series in a row, and five of its last seven games. At 44-37 the Cubbies sit 9.5 games behind the Cardinals in the divisional race, but they also lead the Mets by 2.5 games in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
The Cardinals lead this season series eight games to two, with the UNDERS going 6-4.
Game 1 Pitching Match-Up
Arrieta (8-5, 2.80), by our strict standards, is nine-for-16 on quality starts this season, and three for his last three. Last Thursday he held the Mets to one run through eight innings, with zero walks and seven strikeouts, and over his last three starts he's allowed just two runs through 24 innings. On the season Arrieta has allowed fewer hits, 86, than innings pitched, 106, walked 23 and struck out 110. Chicago is 9-7 in Arrieta's starts, with the totals tilting toward the UNDERS by an 8-4 margin.
Going back to last season Arrieta has started seven times against St. Louis, allowing eight earned runs through 41 2/3 innings (1.73 ERA); thanks to some poor run support the Cubs only won three of those games, while five of those games played UNDER.
Lyons (2-0, 5.09) is 0-for-five on quality starts this year. Last time out with the Big Club, 18 days ago, Lyons gave up three runs in five innings against Philadelphia, and he is yet to get more than 15 outs in an outing this season. On the whole Lyons has allowed 28 hits, including five homers, through 23 innings this year, although his K/BB ratio is pretty good, at 28/7. The Cardinals are 3-2 in Lyons' starts, with the UNDERS going 3-2.
In two career starts against the Cubs, including an iffy performance back in May, Lyons has given up 12 earned runs over just 8 1/3 innings; St. Louis split those two games, and both games played OVER.
Game 1 Batting Splits
St. Louis owns one of the best lineups in baseball right now against right-handed pitching, ranking fourth in the Majors in batting average at .269 and third in team on-base percentage at .330.
Chicago, meanwhile, ranks 10th against lefties with a .258 BA and third in OBP at .342.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at the Friendly Confines are a lopsided 26-10 on the UNDERS this season, averaging just 6.4 runs per. And it looks like the wind will be blowing in from left field at Wrigley this afternoon.
St. Louis is playing without OF Matt Holliday, who's on the DL with a pulled quad.
Cards-Cubs Game 1 Free Pick
We'll give Arrieta the check mark in the pitching match-up, and while St. Louis might own an edge with the sticks, it's also without Holliday. So we like the Cubs for Game 1 today. Also, we rank both these bullpens among the top ten in baseball at the moment, so we're thinking UNDER.
MLB Picks: Cubs and UNDER