With the trade deadline coming up, and neither the Cubs nor Cardinals having a particularly strong season, it’s time to make some moves. With that in mind, this edition of one of baseball’s best rivalries could be the curtain call for star players on either team, so some strong final impressions could be on the table. Let’s take a look at the odds for this meeting between iconic clubs, where my prediction is for the Cubs to win and hit their -105 moneyline.
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Prediction
These two teams actually met quite recently, just a series ago. The Cardinals took the first installment of that four-game set at Wrigley, but the Cubs won the remaining three. The Cubs used that momentum to sweep a two game mini series against their next biggest rivals, the crosstown White Sox, while the Cardinals bounced back nicely to take 2 of 3 in Arizona.
Chicago’s starter for Thursday’s game is Justin Steele, who just made his All Star debut on his 28th birthday. He’s decidedly old-school, limiting quality of contact with pure control as he isn’t a velocity guy, and mostly mixes between just his fastball and slider. Interestingly enough, Steele- who is making less than a million dollars this season in base salary- is not considered to be on the trading block, so he is part of the project going forward, a very good thing for Chicago’s club and fans.
He’s going up against Miles Mikolas, who was a very deserving second-time All Star last year, but has been significantly less sharp this season. He’s coming off of a pair of particularly tough starts, in which he’s allowed 8 runs in just 11 innings of work. Despite Steele’s excellent form, I’m going with the over. Mikolas hasn’t been great, and both bullpens are pretty rough, while the lineups are in relatively good shape right now with stars on both sides.
For the moneyline, Steele makes this an easy choice; I’m not even quite sure how the Cubs are available at near-even money, even on the road. This is one of the better value moneyline bets I’ve seen recently, unless there is perhaps some imminent Cody Bellinger news, this should not be a particularly tough one for the Northsiders.
Rivalries are always tough, especially on the road in front of a fanbase like St. Louis, but the Cubbies should at least be favorites, not slight underdogs. Moreover, the Cardinals have pretty much folded for the season, while Chicago just might be clinging to a shred of playoff hopes (6 GB in NL Central, 4.5 for a Wild Card spot).
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Prediction: Cubs ML (-105), o9.5 (-110)
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Odds
Vegas sees this one as almost dead even, with the Cardinals narrowly favored with a -115 moneyline and -105 for the Cubs. For a total of 9.5, the over is -105 while the under is -115.
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Key Matchups
Justin Steele Vs. Star Bats
Nobody is better than Steele at preventing homers (NL-best 0.5 per 9 innings), while he’s also solid in terms of walk and hit prevention. He’s a lefty arm who actually mows down righties and does a bit worse against other left-handers, so there’s no glaring Achilles heel. It’s pretty simple; the very best pitchers are only threatened by the very best hitters, and the Cardinals have a few of those so let’s check those out.
The first name that comes to mind is of course reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt, who is having a down year by his own absurd standard but is still one of the best bats in the league. A righty, he has a reverse-split like Steele and relatively struggles against lefties, so this should be a good matchup for Chicago. Nolan Arenado has probably been a better bat than Goldschmidt so far, leading the team in homers and OPS, and he doesn’t really have much of a platoon split at all. Finally, there’s another Nolan, Gorman to be exact- he’s tied with Arenado with 22 long balls and has decidedly been the team’s next-best bat after the two superstars.
Miles Mikolas Vs. Contact Bats
Mikolas, who is having a tough year, doesn’t really walk guys, and his home run rate is actually a bit down from last year, which was a much better year for him overall. The issue is simple; he’s giving up 10 hits per 9 innings compared to 7.6 last year, and has a 5th percentile xBA, so it’s not all just bad luck that guys are reaching safely, he’s letting them make solid enough contact to find a gap.
Whether we’re talking about contact and on-base ability or power, a discussion on the Cubs lineup has to start with Cody Bellinger. He may not be there much longer, but he should still be in the lineup today, and he has been absolutely on fire. Bellinger, who has missed time, has a .312 batting average on the season and a .905 OPS as he’s flashing the MVP form from his LA tenure. Over the last four weeks, he’s been even more dominant with a batting average north of .400 and an OPS approaching 2.000, he’s one of the most sought-after assets at the deadline.
Nico Hoerner is the team’s qualified batting average leader with a .280 mark, while Nick Madrigal and Patrick Morel are sitting in the .270s with just under 60 games played apiece. Dansby Swanson is a bit lower down, but is hitting the ball really well in just a few games after a short IL stint. This is a sneaky-good lineup, and my belief in them to hit Mikolas is a major reason I have their team hitting the -105 moneyline in my Cubs vs. Cardinals prediction.
Cubs Vs. Cardinals Starting Lineups
Cubs Starting Lineup
SS N. Hoerner R
RF S. Suzuki R
LF I. Happ S
2B C. Morel R
CF C. Bellinger L
C Y. Gomes R
3B P. Wisdom R
1B T. Mancini R
DH M. Amaya R
Cardinals Starting Lineup
DH B. Donovan L
1B P. Goldschmidt R
3B N. Arenado R
CF L. Nootbaar L
C W. Contreras R
2B N. Gorman L
LF T. O’Neill R
RF J. Walker R
SS P. DeJong R