ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball will showcase the National League Central rivalry between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. The nationally televised tilt will be the fourth game in a five-game series between the two.
The two squads battled Saturday in a pair of seven-inning contests, with the Cardinals sweeping the doubleheader, 4-2 and 5-1. This game is essentially a toss-up, according to oddsmakers.
What to Know- St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis enters in second place in the NL Central, 2.5 games behind the Cubs. The Cardinals rallied after their series-opening loss to the Cubs on Friday to take both games of the doubleheader yesterday.
Kwang-Hyun Kim was originally slated to start for the Cardinals, but Kim was admitted to the emergency room Friday night with a kidney issue. In his place, St. Louis will turn to Dakota Hudson (1-2, 2.77 ERA, 0.92 WHIP).
The right-hander has started five games this season and has allowed eight earned runs over 26 innings pitched. Hudson has struck out 23 batters over that time.
Offensively the Cardinals have been led by veteran slugger Paul Goldschmidt. Goldschmidt leads the team in hits (31), on-base percentage (.472), and batting average (.323). Brad Miller has provided the firepower for the lineup, hitting a team-high five home runs and driving in 20 runs.
What to Know – Chicago Cubs
The Cubs began the season as one of the hottest teams in baseball but have not had a lot of success in the win column recently. Chicago still finds itself with a decent cushion over the Cardinals in the league standings, but that gap is continuing to narrow as each week passes.
Veteran Jon Lester (2-1, 5.11 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) will toe the rubber for the home team in this one. Lester has had some shaky starts recently, allowing five earned runs over 5 1/3 innings in his last start against the Pirates.
On the season, Lester has surrendered 21 earned runs over 37 innings of work, allowing 41 hits and striking out 25.
The Cubs offense has sputtered during this series, with just seven runs being scored over the first three games of this series. Ian Happ leads the Cubs in just about every major batting category.
The young slugger is batting .317 with 12 home runs and 24 runs driven in. Happ also leads the Cubs with a .423 on-base percentage and 40 hits.
The Pick Is In
This contest should be an interesting pitching matchup, with an All-Star veteran facing a young, highly touted prospect. The Cubs offense is a bit of a concern, as they have really tailed off over the last couple of weeks.
St. Louis is battling to inch closer to that top spot in the NL Central, and Hudson has played a key role in the Cardinals’ chances to accomplish that. Neither offense is great, but expect the Cardinals to be slightly better. Ride with St. Louis -105 in this one.