The St. Louis Cardinals will host the Chicago Cubs in the regular season’s final weekend, including a primetime showdown on FOX on Saturday night. Can the Cubs spoil the end of the regular season as St. Louis prepares for October or will Chicago’s recent slide continue as they close out their season without a trip to the playoffs for the second straight season?
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- Date and Time: Saturday, September 28, 2019, at 7:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Missouri
- 2019 MLB Betting Odds at Betcris: (Check Back Later)
- Cubs vs. Cardinals 2019 MLB TV Coverage: FOX
The Cubs haven’t announced their rotation for the final series of the year, but if everyone stays on rotation, Cole Hamels could return to the mix on Friday, pushing Yu Darvish to Saturday in a rematch of last Sunday’s game at Wrigley where Miles Mikolas outdueled Darvish in a well-pitched game by both hurlers.
Both Mikolas and Darvish have pitched better down the stretch after struggling a bit earlier in the year.
For Mikolas, he has gone from leading the league in wins in 2018 to leading in losses here in 2019. Last MLB season, his first back in the states, he garnered some Cy Young consideration and was 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA. This year, he’s just 9-14 with a 4.16 though he still has a 103 ERA+ making him still an above average arm, although just barely.
Down the stretch, of course, he’s thrown better. In the second half, he has a 3.72 ERA and here in September, he’s made five starts with a 3.34 ERA.
In his last start, the Cardinals’ veteran right-hander tossed 7.2 innings allowing just two runs, one earned, to get the win over the Cubs. He allowed just one run in 5.2 innings the last time he faced Chicago at home.
Overall, it’s been a solid year for Mikolas who has 184 innings with a 1.233 WHIP and 4.28 FIP. He’s shown solid command with just 1.6 BB:9 and though he’s not a big strikeout pitcher, his biggest weakness has been the home run ball.
Interesting, Darvish has had a similar issue. The Cubs’ righty has allowed a league leading 33 home runs, but like Mikolas has shown solid command. Unlike the Cardinals hurler, however, the Cubs veteran is a strikeout pitcher with 11.5 K:9.
Darvish is also boasting other better numbers with a 112 ERA+. He’s just 6-8 but has a 3.98 ERA and 4.18 FIP with a 1.097 WHIP.
In his last start, Darvish held the Cardinals to three runs in 8.1 innings of work and nabbed his third straight game with at least a dozen strikeouts.
The Cubs’ hurler has been throwing the ball very well lately. He’s allowed just eight runs in his last five starts, spanning 34.1 innings and has walked just seven batters in his last 14 starts combined.
In the end, this is a battle of a couple veterans of the Japanese leagues going head-to-head. Both have pitched well of late and both have shown good command. One—Darvish—is a better strikeout pitcher, but the other—Mikolas—got the better when these two went head-to-head last week.
The Cardinals have the best bullpen ERA in the National League though the Cubs aren’t too much behind. Both have had good cumulative numbers, but both pens have their questions.
Fortunately for the Cardinals, the questions have had positive answers recently. Carlos Martinez has grabbled hold of the closer’s role and has shut down the ninth innings. On the year, he’s got a 3.30 ERA and 24 saves, but has been a lockdown option, particularly over the last month.
Leading to Martinez, Andrew Miller has bounced back from a slow start and is a proven veteran southpaw. John Brebbia, Giovanny Gallegoa and Ryan Helsley—amongst others—have stepped up in big ways to provide some quality depth and reliable options.
For the Cubs, the numbers have been okay, but serious questions persist. Craig Kimbrel’s health and effectiveness have been issues. He’s got a 6.53 ERA in 20.2 innings.
Steve Cishek, Kyle Ryan, and Brandon Kintzler have been good set up options, but the latter has been dealing with an oblique issue.
By most measures, the Cubs are the better offensive team. They’ve scored more runs on the season and boast a much better team OPS. In the month of September, however, it’s been much closer.
The Cubs are missing star shortstop Javier Baez. He may be back in time for this one but will be rusty. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo have also been nursing nagging injuries.
Ultimately, the Cubs have a plethora of excellent hitters, but haven’t been able to find consistency. Willson Contreras, Rizzo, Bryant, Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Nicholas Castellanos have been swinging very well. Castellanos, especially, has been raking since being acquired midseason from the Tigers. He’s batting .327 with a 1.021 OPS, 16 home runs and 21 doubles in 50 games.
While the overall offense is there, the numbers on the road aren’t nearly as good.
For the Cardinals, they’ve got Paul Goldschmidt finally hitting like Paul Goldschmidt along with some good numbers from the likes of Marcell Ozuna and Paul DeJong. The sum of the parts is greater for this team than the parts themselves, the opposite of the Cubs.
Ultimately, over the last few weeks, these are two teams that went in very different directions. The Cardinals have gotten hot. They’ve captured the NL Central title with a 46-24 run in the second half and a 15-9 record in September.
St. Louis has won six of their last seven—including sweeping the Cubs in their last head-to-head series. Overall, the Cardinals are 9-7 against Chicago on the year.
In addition to that advantage, the Cardinals are also at home for this one. St. Louis has been dominant at home with a .628 winning percentage while the Cubs have never been able to figure it out on the road in 2019. They’re just 31-45 away from Wrigley.
Overall, the Cubs are just 9-13 in September as they’ve let a postseason opportunity slip away. This team just hasn’t felt motivated and has basically been coasting all year with a .522 winning percentage in the first half and the same in the second half. The Cardinals kicked it into gear late, the Cubs never did.
This game is the Cardinals’ game to lose. Neither team will have too much riding on this, but St. Louis will want to go into October playing well. The Cubs should be officially eliminated by Saturday and coasting to the end of the year.
Recently, the Cardinals have been playing much better ball than the Cubs and playing this game in St. Louis makes it even more lopsided in St. Louis’s favor even after the Cardinals swept the Cubs last weekend.
Look for a solid outing from Mikolas in his final tune up before the postseason. He should give the team five of six solid innings with the Cardinals bullpen closing the door from there.
The Cubs have looked flat recently. While Darvish should throw well, the offense isn’t likely to provide much help as the team has basically given up.
Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Pick: The Cubs look like a team that’s already checked out. Count on the Cardinals to exploit that for a win on Saturday.
Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals Score Prediction: Cardinals 6, Cubs 3
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