The NL Central is in disarray, mostly because the St. Louis Cardinals find themselves buried at the bottom with an 11-24 record. The Cardinals ended their eight-game losing streak by beating Detroit, 12-6 yesterday, but now they’ll head to Wrigley Field for three-games with the 17-17 Chicago Cubs.
Miles Mikolas will start on the mound for the Cardinals, but he won’t be throwing to former Cub, Willson Contreras whom St. Louis signed to a big money deal in the offseason and just this weekend announced that he won’t be behind the plate for the foreseeable future. He will be in the lineup as a DH against Marcus Stroman who will make his eighth start for Chicago.
Mikolas is 1-1 with a 5.79 ERA and Stroman comes in with a 2-2 record and 2.18 ERA. Let’s get into the odds for Game 1.
Cardinals vs. Cubs odds, run line and total
Cardinals vs. Cubs prediction and pick
It’s clear now why the Cubs seemed comfortable letting their All-Star catcher walk in free agency and to their fiercest divisional rival. Contreras has been solid at the plate, but behind the plate he doesn’t seem to do all the little things that defined his predecessor for his entire hall of fame career. Removing Contreras from his catching duties could have a positive impact on the pitching staff with better pitch calling and more preparation from Andrew Knizner.
However, having a Knizner or any other catcher in the lineup takes a lot of power out of the Cards' lineup. While the club did manage to plate 12 runs against Detroit on Sunday, Stroman is a far tougher task.
Further, the Cardinals pitching staff need to improve, because they are 21st in ERA. Mikolas, who made his second All-Star team last season, started off the season very poorly and has an ERA north of 5.00.
I expect some improvement from Mikolas on the mound because of a 4.93 FIP which indicates positive regression is on the horizon. He really can’t be much worse. Let’s take the under with a weakened St. Louis lineup at Wrigley and an improving pitching staff.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change