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Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: NL Central Rivals Open Series at Wrigley Field (Friday, July 9)

Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds, Preview, Prediction: NL Central Rivals Open Series at Wrigley Field (Friday, July 9) article feature image

Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Dylan Carlson #3 and Nolan Arenado #28 of the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals hit the road to take on the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday afternoon.
  • The storied and tenacious Route 66 rivalry is worth more than just bragging rights this season; in fact, both clubs are seeking a momentum-shifting series win before the All-Star break.
  • MLB betting analyst BJ Cunningham breaks down the odds for Friday's matinee matchup and offers his recommendation for how to bet Cardinals vs. Cubs.

Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds

Cardinals Odds +150
Cubs Odds -170
Over/Under 8.5 (-105 / -115)
Time 2:20 p.m. ET
TV MLB Network
Odds as of early Friday morning and via DraftKings.

The Cubs and Cardinals renew one of the fiercest rivalries in baseball on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

The Cardinals have really struggled over the first half of the season. They are two games below .500 and nine games out of first place in the NL Central. St. Louis needs to go on a run in the second half in order to make the playoffs, so losing the final series before the All-Star Break will not help the team’s chances.

The Cubs are in the midst of a staggering free fall, having lost 12 of their last 13 games. As a result, Chicago has fallen to nine and a half games behind the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs are desperate for the All-Star break to get arrive in order to reset, but a series loss to their rivals could be catastrophic.

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St. Louis Cardinals Offense

The Cardinals offense has been putrid, ranking bottom-10 in just about every metric imaginable. They also have really struggled versus right-handed pitching, against which the club has only managed a .293 wOBA and 86 wRC+. The Cardinals’ poor hitting has grown even worse over the past month, during which span the team has recorded a .222 batting average and has hit the second-fewest home runs in baseball.

However, the Cardinals actually have a decent matchup against Kyle Hendricks on Friday. St. Louis ranks seventh in MLB against changeups, and the Cardinals lineup features five players with a wOBA of .380 or higher against sinkers. Hendricks relies on his changeup and sinker as the core of his pitching arsenal, opting for either pitch 66% of the time.

Chicago Cubs Offense

The Cubs lineup has been average, accruing a mediocre .306 wOBA and 92 wRC+. It’s basically been the “Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Patrick Wisdom Show” for the Cubs, as all three guys have a wOBA over .360.

Chicago has been pretty good versus left-handed pitching, ranking 11th in wOBA and wRC+. The Cubs offense draws an advantageous matchup against Wade LeBlanc, who has struggled this season.

Starting Pitching Matchup: Wade LeBlanc vs. Kyle Hendricks

2021 Stats (via FanGraphs)

Cardinals Starting Pitcher: Wade LeBlanc, LHP

2021 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

LeBlanc has spent most of his career in the bullpen and rarely gets a chance to start a game. He’s been thrown into the St. Louis starting rotation, but that has not translated into much success. LeBlanc reports an xERA and xFIP over 5.00 in 23.1 innings.

His biggest issue has been his inability to keep the ball inside the yard. LeBlanc’s HR/9 rate is all the way up to 1.54, and he also has one of the worst hard contact rates (44.3%) in baseball. So, he faces a compelling adversary against a Cubs offense that hits well against lefties.

Cubs Starting Pitcher: Kyle Hendricks, RHP

2021 Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Kyle Hendricks has struggled somewhat this season. In fact, his xERA and xFIP are both well above 4.00 for the first time in his career.

So, what’s the problem? First, he’s giving up way too many home runs: Hendricks’ HR/9 rate is up at 1.82. Second, he’s not forcing as many ground balls as he’s used to: Hendricks’ ground ball rate is at 40.9%, which is the lowest of his career.

As far as his pitch mix is concerned, he’s really struggling with his changeup. Opposing batters have accumulated a .323 wOBA against Hendricks’ offspeed pitch. Contrast that mark with Hendricks’ 2020 campaign, during which his changeup only allowed a .245 wOBA.

St. Louis has had the most success against changeups this season, so Hendricks may need to utilize the rest of his arsenal more frequently on Friday afternoon.

Bullpen / Defensive Matchup

The Cubs have a big advantage in the later innings, because the Cardinals’ bullpen is due for some negative regression. As a unit, St. Louis’ relief-pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.29 but an xFIP of 4.98, which is the worst in baseball. In fact, they also have the highest BB/9 in the league.

In contrast, the Cubs’ relievers have been really good this season, posting a 3.24 ERA and 4.04 xFIP. So, they will have a big advantage in the bullpen.

Cardinals vs. Cubs Pick

Even though LeBlanc and the bullpen do not have a great matchup against the Cubs, I still think St. Louis is undervalued. The Cardinals offense draws a good matchup against Hendricks, since they excel against his top two pitches.

So, I think there is value on St. Louis today at +150 (DraftKings) and would play them down to +140.

Pick: Cardinals +150 (Play to +140)

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