The Chicago Cubs (47-49, 19-32 away) and the St. Louis Cardinals (48-48, 27-20 home) conclude their four-game series Thursday night. St. Louis has taken two of three from the Cubs this series, but Chicago owns a 7-4 mark head-to-head this season.
The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. EST inside Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO. According to oddsmakers, you can get the Cardinals as a slight betting favorite (-120) and expect a low-scoring game with the run total at 8.
What to Know – Chicago Cubs
Chicago once sat atop the NL Central but suffered an 11-game losing streak late in the first half of the season that dropped the Cubs out of the top spot. The Cubs have opened the second half of play with an even 3-3 record. Chicago is in fourth place in the divisional standings, 8.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers.
The 26-year-old Adbert Alzolay (4-9, 4.59 ERA, 1.11 WHIP) makes his second start against the Cardinals this season. Alzolay was effective in his first appearance against the Birds, firing 7.0 innings and surrendering two runs on five hits with six strikeouts. The right-hander is looking for his first victory on the mound since June 2nd.
Chicago’s team batting average of .226 ranks 28th in the MLB and last in the National League. However, the Cubs are 20th in the majors, with 403 runs scored over 96 games. Shortstop Javier Baez leads Chicago in both home runs (21) and runs driven in (61) this year.
What to Know – St. Louis Cardinals
At two points during the first half, the Cardinals were eight games over .500 and sitting at or near the top of the NL Central. A 2-11 stretch from the end of May through early June halted the Cardinals’ momentum and dropped St. Louis to third in the standings. St. Louis is off to an excellent start in the second half, posting a 4-2 mark through the first week of play.
Left-handed pitcher Kwang Hyun Kim (5-5, 2.87 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) is expected to start for the hosts. The 32-year old has been unhittable in July, pitching 19.0 innings with no runs given up and a trio of victories. Kim shut down the Cubs in an outing prior to the All-Star break, scattering five hits and conceding no runs over 6.0 innings of work.
St. Louis has a .232 team batting average but is one of the worst run-producing offenses in the league, averaging just under four runs per game. Third baseman Nolan Arenado and first baseman Paul Goldschmidt drive the Cardinals offense combining for 34 home runs and 111 RBIs between the two sluggers.
The Pick is In
The Cardinals scratched out an extra-innings victory last night and will look to take three of four from Chicago this week with arguably their best pitcher right now on the mound. Alzolay has shown flashes of elite-level stuff, but the youngster has struggled to keep the ball in play in recent starts.
A win for the Cardinals keeps St. Louis within a shot of the division-leading Brewers and hands the Cubs another loss. We like the Cardinals tonight to close out the series at home with a big victory.
The Pick: St. Louis Cardinals ML