The gap is tightening in the NL Central heading into the May 22nd Cubs at Cardinals matchup. Chicago won the series opener 12-3 on Friday thanks to an 8-run 8th inning – their 6th win in the last seven games. St. Louis has dropped 4 of 6, and lead the Cubs by just 2 in the division.
Oddsmakers are calling Saturday’s matchup pretty close, making Chicago a -115 favorite with St. Louis at -105. Miles Mikolas will be making his season debut in this tilt, returning from arm surgery and shoulder stiffness. Adbert Alzolay (2-3, 4.62 ERA) goes for the Cubs, looking for his 3rd straight start without a walk.
Cubs Offense Clicking
Chicago’s outburst on Friday night was somewhat surprising considering the Cubs are now just 7-12 on the road this season. The under is now 4-1 in Chicago’s last 5 away from Wrigley Field, That’s a risky wager in the May 22nd Cubs at Cardinals pick however the way Ian Happ and Co. are swinging the bat right now.
Happ was 3-4 on Friday night, and hit 2 HR the game before that against Washington. Joc Pederson led off game one with a HR, and joined Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and David Bote with a multi-RBI game. Rizzo and Happ both hit better than .380 vs. Mikolas, and Javy Baez has taken the Cardinals pitcher deep twice in 18 career AB.
Alzolay will give up some runs too, giving up 6ER over 11.0 IP in his last two starts. He does have good command, striking out 22 while allowing just 2 walks over his last four. Alzolay has also allowed 6 HR over that span too though.
Cardinals Bullpen Makes Them a Risky Play
St. Louis was only down 4-3 heading into the 8th on Friday night, but that’s when the wheels fell off as Chicago rattled off 8 in the frame. That ruined a quality start from Carlos Martinez, who went 6.0 IP allowing just 2 ER. As a result, Mike Schildt had to burn through five relievers in the opener.
The Cardinals will hope for a long outing from Mikolas on Saturday, but that’s a tough ask as he’s making his first start since the 2019 NLCS. Mikolas missed all of 2020 for a surgery to repair a flexor tendon in his pitching arm. A red hot Cubs offense vs. a rusty pitcher and a beleaguered bullpen doesn’t seem like a great combo for St. Louis -105 backers.
The St. Louis offense managed just 1 ER on Friday night, with Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt combining to go 1-7. The Cardinals had put up 5+ runs in four of their previous five. It’s hard to know what to expect on Saturday though as the St. Louis offense has very little familiarity with Alzolay (2-16, .125, 0 XB hits).
Free May 22nd Cubs at Cardinals Pick
Chicago is in a great spot. They’ve got momentum, conquered some road woes with a big win on Friday night, and get a matchup with a pitcher who hasn’t thrown since 2019 and a bullpen that is in the bottom 10 in ERA. Both teams have a great price and it wouldn’t be a shocker if St. Louis tied up this series, but the Cubs bats are red hot right now.
Cubs 6 – Cardinals 4
Free Pick: Cubs -115