On Friday night, we are treated with a National League Central rivalry game between the visiting Chicago Cubs (10-3, 3-2 away) and the host St. Louis Cardinals (2-3, 2-1 home). This will be the first game played for the host since July 29th after a coronavirus outbreak plagued the clubhouse.
The span included a total of nine games postponed for the Cards. First pitch of game one of a three-game series is scheduled for 8:15 pm EST inside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Mo. St. Louis (-150) is favored, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know – Chicago Cubs
The Cubs were riding a six-game winning streak before getting blown out (13-2) in the final game of the series against the Kansas City Royals yesterday in Kansas City. The winning streak has placed the Cubs with a comfortable 3.5 game lead in the NL Central standings almost 25% of the way through the shortened season.
Veteran left-handed hurler Jon Lester (1-0, 0.82 era, 0.55 whip) has looked fantastic in his first two starts of the season. Lester has scattered just four hits over 11 innings pitched while striking out five.
The Cubs offense is fifth in the majors with 19 home runs hit this season. Javier Baez, Anthony Rizzo, and Ian Happ each have hit three longballs to pace the Cubs. Baez leads the team with nine runs batted in while Rizzo paces Chicago with nine runs scored.
In Chicago’s three losses this season, the Cubbies have completely melted down on the mound, allowing an average of 11 runs in the losses.
What to Know – St. Louis Cardinals
Before the lengthy postponement due to the outbreak, the Cardinals had dropped three straight, including a two-game set against the Minnesota Twins. The pause in play for the Cardinals may have given the defending NL Central champions some time to recalibrate and get back to basics.
28-year old Daniel Ponce de Leon (0-1, 6.75 era, 1.25 whip) gets the nod in this one. The right-hander was a bit shaky in his lone start this season, surrendering three runs over 3.2 innings pitched. He allowed three walks but did strike out eight in the short stint.
The Cardinals have just a .217 team batting average through their five games played. Veteran Paul Goldschmidt (.316 avg, nine total bases) is the leader of the anemic offense, accounting for six of the teams 34 total hits and the only Cardinal batting over .300 this season.
Even after the delay in play, St. Louis enters the weekend just a half-game out of second place in the Central standings.
The Pick is In
We believe this initial line will move quickly in favor of the Cubs. St. Louis is coming off an extended time off period may be a bit rusty. The pitching and offensive matchups also favor the visitors. If you can grab the Cubs at plus money, take the Cubbies (+130).