Cardinals vs. Cubs Game 2 Betting Odds, Pick, Prediction: St. Louis Goes for 14 Straight In Nightcap (Friday, September 24)
John Fisher/Getty Images. Edmundo Sosa and Tommy Edman celebrate the Cardinals’ 12th straight win.
- St. Louis is favored in Game 2 after winning its 13th straight in Game 1 of the doubleheader.
- Jack Flaherty comes off the IL to start for the Cardinals, and will be opposed by Zach Davies.
- Continue reading for a full breakdown of both games of today's doubleheader at Wrigley Field.
Cardinals vs. Cubs Game 2 Odds
|Over/Under||8.5 (-115 / -105)|
|Time||8:05 p.m. ET|
Game 2 Breakdown
Jack Flaherty entered the season with sights set on a return to dominance and Cy Young contention. His severe oblique strain at the end of May kept him out for more than two months, though, and just three starts into his return he was shelved again with a shoulder strain, and should be activated to start Game 2 today.
It’s an ideal spot for Flaherty to return, both because of the quality of competition and the fact that it’s only a seven-inning game. He notably did not go on a minor-league rehab assignment after this most recent injury, so is unlikely to throw more than a couple of innings as he works his way back to full strength.
When Flaherty has been able to pitch, he’s been effective, even if not quite up to the standards of the pitcher who contended for the Cy Young award in 2019. His strikeouts were down, but so were his walks, and pitching in front of the best defense in baseball undoubtedly has helped in the run prevention department.
Zach Davies’ main contribution to the Cubs this season has been staying healthy enough to pitch a full season, which is notable as a parade of players have come in and out of town around him.
The fact that he’s been Chicago’s main workhorse next to Kyle Hendricks in the rotation has also made his warts more visible, however, and he enters the day with 73 walks, more than any other pitcher in baseball this season.
Like Steele, he should benefit from the fact that the Cardinals are not the most patient team in baseball, and his home run rate isn’t as appalling as his rotation-mate’s. Still, this is by no means a quality arm staring down the hottest team in baseball, and fireworks could be in order.
Cardinals-Cubs Game 2 Pick
When a team is on a streak like the Cardinals possess, you have to wait for an opportunity to present itself where selling provides value. This might be the spot. St. Louis’s bullpen had to eat five innings on Thursday, and assuming Happ doesn’t throw a gem in Game 1, will enter the nightcap overburdened in general in recent days.
Backing Davies is a risky proposition, but there’s value here given Flaherty’s rust and the Cardinals’ overworked bullpen.
St. Louis has to lose sometime … right?
Pick: Cubs +155 (down to +145)
Cardinals vs. Cubs Game 1 Odds
|Over/Under||8.5 (-115 / -115)|
|Time||2:20 p.m. ET|
The Cardinals just won’t stop.
After going down 5-0 to the division-leading Brewers on Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee, St. Louis ripped off eight unanswered runs to finish a four-game sweep and extend its winning streak to 12 games.
The Cardinals are firmly in the driver’s seat for the second NL wild-card spot, and now play seven of their final 10 games against the hapless Chicago Cubs, starting with Friday’s doubleheader at Wrigley.
The opener pits J.A. Happ, whose surprising competence has helped aid the hot streak, against Justin Steele. The nightcap will see erstwhile ace Jack Flaherty against veteran soft-tosser Zach Davies.
Game 1 Breakdown
Happ spent the first half of the season performing like one of the worst starting pitching in baseball for an extremely underperforming Twins team.
It was curious, then, to see the Cardinals pick him up — along with fellow underperforming veteran Jon Lester — at the trade deadline when the team only had faint postseason hopes to begin with.
It’s true that Happ was terrible, but not to the degree that his 6.77 ERA suggested. His FIP was more than a run lower, and his rate stats didn’t suggest someone who should’ve been hit around unlike we’ve ever seen in the 38-year-old’s 15-year career.
Happ didn’t exactly break out upon joining St. Louis, but he’s gone from “unusable” to “competent” which has been a boon for a Cardinals pitching staff that severely needed pitching help. His home run rate has dropped slightly, and his pitch-to-contact approach has been benefited by playing for a team that sits atop the Defensive Runs Saved leaderboard.
Steele will make his seventh consecutive start after rejoining the major-league squad following the trade deadline, and things haven’t gone well for the 26-year-old rookie. He’s walked 17 and given up seven home runs in just 31 2/3 innings out of the rotation, putting up a 5.12 ERA that somehow shows a bit of luck according to FIP.
Steele is allowing just a .275 BABIP, so his true bugaboo is simply the base on balls. That might not kill him this afternoon, however, as the Cardinals have the seventh-worst BB% in the majors at just 7.9%, easily the worst among MLB’s postseason contenders.
He misses bats at a decent clip, with a swinging strike percentage of 11.4% in all appearances that ranks right in line with the league average of 11.3%. As a starter, however, that mark drops down to 10%.
Cardinals-Cubs Game 1 Pick
At the time of this writing, the wind is expected to be blowing out at 14-17 mph to left-center at Wrigley on Friday afternoon. Steele’s ground ball rate is a neutral 50%, but the percentage of fly balls he allows that leave the park is an astronomically high 25%.
Home runs have also been a problem for Happ. He only induces grounders 34.4% of the time, and has allowed 29 dingers in 142 innings between his two teams.
Totals at Wrigley are a fickle thing, and sportsbooks haven’t listed a number at the time of this writing, but The Action Network’s Sean Zerillo projects it right around 7.5, and even in a seven-inning game, I think the over should have excellent value.
If the number is 7.5, I would bet the over up to -120, and even at 8 or 8.5 I’d take it to -110.
Pick: Over 7.5 (to -120); Over 8 or 8.5 (to -110)