The third and final game for MLB’s 2017 opening day has the World Champion Chicago Cubs at the St. Louis Cardinals. For the first time in 108 years, the Cubs open the season as World Series champs. Last year, the Cardinals, a major rival of the Cubs, did not make it into the postseason. That was an unusual occurrence for St. Louis. The Central Division rivals will play in St. Louis at 8:35 p.m. E.T. tonight. Our Chicago Cubs play St. Louis Cardinals free pick has the Cubs +133 with the runline at -1.5 and the over/under at 7.0.
Cub ace Jon Lester (L, 19-5 W/L, 2.44 ERA) showed great command last season. It was his best year in the majors, but some wonder if losing catcher David Ross will affect him negatively? Today, he’ll be handled by second-year backstop Willson Contreras (.282 BA, 12 HR, 35 RBI). He knows how to work his pitchers and is seen as being the future of this club. Look for former Royals’ closer Wade Davis (R, 2-1 W/L, 1.87 ERA, 27 SV) to come in late in the game if it’s on the line.
Carlos Martinez (R, 16-9 W/L, 3.04 ERA) gets the number one spot in the rotation instead of Adam Wainwright. Martinez has had a very good spring; although at times he’s had issues in the first inning or so. He’s also struggled against the Cubs. Closer Seung-Hwan Oh (R, 6-3 W/L, 1.92 ERA, 19 SV) will be backing him up.
Cub shortstop Addison Russell (.238 BA, 21 HR, 95 RBI) has been improving at the plate, while first baseman Anthony Rizzo (.292 BA, 32 HR, 109 RBI) is a power hitter who can bring runners home. Ben Zobrist get the start at second instead of Javier Baez. Zobrist has a lifetime batting average of .385 against Martinez. Catcher Willson Contreras (.282 BA, 12 HR, 35 RBI) has good plate skills and centerfielder Jon Jay is a .285 lifetime hitter. Jason Heyward, a .412 lifetime hitter versus Martinez, is in right. Catcher Kyle Schwarber, who has been dealing with ACL issues, will play in left today. He’s had a decent spring.
St. Louis Cardinals
All-Star Aledmys Diaz (.300 BA, 17 HR, 65 RBI) will play short. The Cards need his lively bat. It’s hoped that second basemen Kolten Wong (.240 BA, 5 HR, 23 RBI) will improve his attitude, as he’s reacted negatively to being platooned. He starts today. a lot this season. Versatile All-Star Matt Carpenter (.271 BA, 21 HR, 68 RBI) will be at first. He brings fine hitting skills, as does catcher Yadier Molina (.307 BA, 8 HR, 58 RBI), who was a workhorse in 2016 catching 1,218.1 innings.
Chicago Cubs Play St. Louis Cardinals Free Pick
If we get into middle relief in this game, Chicago has the edge overall. They are also better when it comes to setting up and closing. Still, the Cardinals are a good team with some fine power in their bats.
However, in our Chicago Cubs play St. Louis Cardinals free pick, we’re banking on Lester having a fine outing and the Cubs cranking out some early runs. We like Chicago at -1.5 and +133 and the under at 7.0. The game is at 8:35 p.m. E.T.