One of the best rivalries in baseball kicks off another head-to-head battle on Thursday in the first of a four-game weekend series with the division title very much in play for both teams. The St. Louis Cardinals are on the road in this one at the historic Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs will do their best to cut the Red Birds’ lead atop the NL Central.
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- Date and Time: Thursday, September 19, 2019, at 7:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Wrigley Field, Chicago, Illinois
- 2019 MLB Betting Odds at Betcris: (Check Back Later)
- Cardinals vs. Cubs 2019 MLB TV Coverage: FOX
These two divisional rivals kick off the crucial series with an interesting pitching matchup as Jack Flaherty gets the nod for the Cardinals opposite Kyle Hendricks for the Cubs.
Flaherty has had a nice season and has thrown the ball exceptionally well in the second half. He’s a big part of St. Louis’ climb to the top of the division.
The young right-hander is 10-8 on the year with a 3.05 ERA and 1.033 WHIP in his 174.1 innings of work. The 23-year old is, arguably, the team’s ace here in his second season. He’s got a solid 3.64 FIP and has 206 strikeouts following a 10-strikeout performance in his last start.
In 12 starts since the All-Star break, Flaherty has gone 6-2 with a 1.05 ERA and 0.789 WHIP. He’s thrown 77.1 innings in that time and has walked just 19 to his 99 strikeouts. The longball accounts for most of the runs he’s allowed in the second-half.
Overall, Flaherty has been fantastic of late though despite the 10 strikeouts in his last start, he did allow three runs for the first time since July 2. Even so, he did still notch a quality start—his fifth straight.
Flaherty last faced the Cubs on August 1. In that game, the righty allowed just a single hit and two walks in seven scoreless innings. That, of course, was in St. Louis. His last start at Wrigley was back in June and didn’t go nearly as well.
On the other side of this pitching matchup, Hendricks comes into play with a 11-9 record, 3.26 ERA and 1.117 WHIP in his 165.2 innings of work. He’s got a similar ERA+ at 138 to Flaherty’s 140. He hasn’t been quite as lights out as Flaherty in the second half, however, but does have a rather extreme split of his own as he’s dominated at home. That’s good news for the Cubs in this one.
In 13 home games, Hendricks is 6-2 with a 1.75 ERA and 0.824 WHIP. He’s thrown 87.1 innings at home. He has a better walk rate at Wrigley and has a few more strikeouts, but the biggest difference is the batting average against at home versus on the road.
In addition to dominating the competition at home, he’s also stepped up his game overall in the second half. It’s not quite to Flaherty’s level, but he does have a 2.94 second half ERA and 1.038 WHIP.
Looking at more recent history, the 29-year old right-hander has allowed exactly one earned run in each of his last three starts. He also pitched seven shutout innings the last time he faced the Cardinals though he did allow seven hits—and no walks—in that contest on the road. He allowed one run in seven frames the last he faced the Cards at home.
To help solve issues with the backend of the bullpen, the Cubs signed Craig Kimbrel earlier this season, but the veteran hurler never fully got on track and is now on the IL.
With their closer on the shelf, the Cubs have had a bit of a committee approach in the ninth inning. While that doesn’t typically work out, Chicago has gotten some good pitching from a plethora of relief arms over the last month. Kyle Ryan and Steve Cishek are at the front of the list of hurlers finding success, but guys like Rowan Wick and Alec Mills have been doing their jobs as well.
Given the expanded roster, the Cubs have a plethora of guys in the pen with many of them throwing quite well right now.
For the Cardinals, the bullpen has been a strength this year. They’ve got a 3.75 bullpen ERA, a bit ahead of the Cubs and best in the NL.
The team has overcome Jordan Hicks’ injury with Carlos Martinez a big part of that, embracing the closer’s role. John Brebbia, John Gant, Giovanny Gallegos and others have stepped up in a big way, too.
Over the last month Dominic Leone, Junior Fernandez, and Ryan Helsley have all thrown well, adding to the depth and options late in games.
Statistically, the Cubs have had a much better offensive season than the Cardinals though the two teams are neck-and-neck in runs scored in the second half.
Chicago just got through a huge series with the Pirates were the offense exploded. Some of that can be attributed to the Pirates’ pitching, but the Cubs offense remains a couple key injuries sidelining Javier Baez and Anthony Rizzo, two of the team’s better offensive players.
It’s hard to take a .920 OPS first baseman and a .848 OPS shortstop out of a lineup and still have a good offense, but the Cubs have done just that.
Nicholas Castellanos remains one of—if not the—best deadline pickups on the offensive end. The outfielder has a 1.070 OPS with 15 homers and 33 RBI in his first 42 games for Chicago. Meanwhile, Nico Hoerner was called up more out of necessity than anything and has been red hot, going 11-for-29 with a pair of homers and 11 RBI in his first seven games.
With those two alongside Willson Contreras, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Jason Heyward, Victor Caratini, and David Bote, amongst others, and Chicago still has a deep lineup.
As for the Cardinals, Kolten Wong’s bat has come alive and Tommy Edman has been swinging well. Marcell Ozuna and Paul Goldschmidt form a great middle of the order along with Paul DeJong.
In the second half, Goldschimdt and DeJong have combined for 29 home runs. After a rough start, Goldschmidt has begun looking more and more like himself.
Through their first 15 games of September, the Cardinals are hitting just .235 as a team, but they’ve been able to score some runs, averaging five runs a contest.
The Cardinals were just .500 in the first half but are 39-22 since the break. They’ve climbed atop the NL Central, but the Cardinals are just 2-4 in their last six games going into Monday. They’re 3-4 in their last seven road games, too.
Overall, St. Louis is a couple games below-.500 for the MLB season on the road. The Cardinals took two out of three the last time they faced the Cubs but were swept the last time the played Chicago at Wrigley Field. On the season, the Cubs own the season series between these clubs, winning seven of their first 12 head-to-head matchups.
Chicago has some of the most pronounced home/road splits in the game. Hendricks is a part of that with how dominant he is at home, but he’s not alone. The Cubs have a .676 winning percentage at home compared to a .413 mark on the road. Of late, Chicago has won four straight and 12 of 19.
This should be a rather interesting contest with both starters throwing the ball very well coming into this game.
Look for a well-pitched game with both starters getting their teams into the seventh inning with just a couple runs allowed. From there, it falls to the bullpens and offenses.
Count on the Cubs to take advantage of their homefield advantage late in this one, getting to the Cardinals’ bullpen and finding a way to get the win in what should ultimately be a good, close game.
Even without some big bats, the Cubs are getting plenty of offense. That offense gives them the upper-hand in this one.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs Pick: The Cubs are just too good of a team at home, look for Hendricks and the Cubs to come out on top.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs Score Prediction: Cubs 5, Cardinals 4