Four years after the first edition of the MLB London Series, we are headed across the pond for another massive rivalry clash, this time between the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. These teams have both had relatively disappointing starts to the season, but if the inaugural London games were any indication, this one should be a blast regardless. Let’s take a look at the odds for this entry into MLB history, where my prediction is for a Cubs win and o14 runs to hit.
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Prediction
When the Yankees and Red Sox played in London Stadium four years ago, the scores were 17-13 and 12-8, both in favor of the Bronx Bombers. These were two of the craziest games of all time, the very first inning featured 6 runs from each team, and the runs never really stopped.
Some have even suggested that the stats from these matchups shouldn’t count towards players’ permanent records, due in part to speculation about “juiced” balls in play to add excitement to these marquee events. There are also very valid concerns about a ballpark that would never be allowed as a team’s permanent home, as dead center field is just 385 feet from the plate.
The point is, we’re in for some runs. The Vegas scoring total of 14 is significantly higher than what you’d see in a normal ballgame, but it’s also a good bit lower than what we saw in 2019. Granted, neither of these offenses are particularly elite, but there’s those wacky ballpark dimensions, and Adam Wainwright on the bump- he’s been pretty brutal, allowing 3 or more runs in all but one of his 8 starts this year, including each of his past 5.
The other side of that coin is that Cubs starter Justin Steele has been excellent this year, continuing the trend of improvement that he’s exhibited across his first few pro seasons. His ERA is down below 3.00, and his WHIP is just above 1.000. The only downside is that he’s had a pair of rough starts within his past 5 outings, so perhaps there’s room for a somewhat surging Cardinals squad to put up a few runs in a pinball stadium.
The Cubs are really righting the ship of late, with 8 wins in their past 9 games. The Cardinals had a short winning streak of their own snapped in their last matchup before crossing the Atlantic, but I’m sticking with Chicago on the moneyline, due to a significant starting pitching advantage.
For the total, this is a truly unique game, but I’m going with the over- the small sample size shows nothing but runs, and the ballpark is genuinely ridiculous, any decently-hit fly ball has a chance to get out, so we can expect some home runs.
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Prediction: Cubs ML (-130), o14 runs (-105)
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Odds
The “visiting” Cubs are -130 favorites in London Stadium, with the Cardinals, the acting hosts, set at +110. For the massive run total of 14, the over is -105 while the under is -115.
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Key Matchups
Justin Steele Vs. A Solid Cardinals Lineup
As rough as the Cardinals have been overall, you can’t really blame the lineup. They’re 8th in the MLB in OPS, and 11th in runs scored, so it’s very hard to call them the problem. The Cardinals have a fairly balanced lineup from a lefty-righty perspective, and Steele is a left-hander with a reverse split, so it’ll be interesting to see how each individual matchup plays out.
In a season full of surprises, here’s a stat that isn’t a shocker- reigning MVP Paul Goldschmidt is leading the way for the Cardinals offense, topping the charts in OPS (.870) and WAR (2.4). Rookie phenom Jordan Walker is also in excellent form, he struggled early in his first MLB season and was sent back to the minors, but since returning to the big leagues, he’s hitting .339 and putting up an OPS over 1.000.
The Nolans, Arenado and Gorman, are both also hitting well with the latter not quite in his peak all-World form at the plate, but still one of the team’s best bats. Fan favorite Lars Nootbaar, youngster Brenden Donovan, and club mainstay Paul DeJong have also been consistent contributors for St. Louis. Even though I have them losing the game, this lineup is a major reason I like the over on the inflated run total of 14 in my Cubs vs. Cardinals prediction.
Adam Wainwright Vs. Lefty Bats
Adam Wainwright is a champion and a club legend, but at nearly 42 years of age, he has all but lost his touch. It’s been tough going in what will be his final season, and he’s gotten particularly crushed by left-handed hitting, as those batters are putting up an OPS over 1.000 against the former All Star.
Luckily for Wainwright, the Cubs aren’t exactly lefty-heavy. Cody Bellinger is one, he came on strong this year but has cooled off in a major way, with an OPS of just .174 over the past week, and .340 since returning from injury.
Conversely, Mike Tauchman is having an excellent week in what has been a strong season overall; as a lefty bat that could be at the top of the lineup, he could set the tone against the veteran righty. For those interested, Tauchman also participated in the last London weekend as a Yankee.
Lastly, there’s switch-hitter Ian Happ, whose performance against righties has been profoundly better than what he’s done against left-handers. It’s also worth mentioning Christopher Morel, who has made all sorts of team history with 13 homers in his first 34 games of the year. He’s a righty, but he’s pretty much crushing all pitchers, and also has a pretty major reverse split (.999 OPS against right-handers)
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Starting Lineups
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF M. Tauchman L
SS N. Hoerner R
RF S. Suzuki R
LF I. Happ S
1B C. Bellinger L
2B C. Morel R
DH T. Mancini R
3B N. Madrigal R
C Y. Gomes R
Cardinals Starting Lineup
2B B. Donovan L
1B P. Goldschmidt R
LF L. Nootbaar L
3B N. Arenado R
C W. Contreras R
RF J. Walker R
DH N. Gorman L
SS P. DeJong R
CF T. Edman S