MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cardinals vs. Cubs: How to Bet Sunday Night Baseball (June 13)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images. Pictured: Chicago Cubs pitcher Tommy Nance.
- Struggling St. Louis hopes to stay above .500 and avoid a road sweep against bitter rival Chicago in Sunday's National League showdown.
- Sean Zerillo takes an in-depth look at this matchup and explains why he likes the Cubs via a live wager.
- Check out Zerillo's detailed thoughts below and how he's playing this showdown.
Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds
|Over/Under||9.5 (-103 / -120)|
|Time||7:08 p.m. ET|
A struggling St. Louis Cardinals squad will hope to stay above .500 and avoid a road sweep Sunday against their bitter rival at The Friendly Confines.
The Cardinals held a half-game lead in the NL Central on May 25th, but after losing Harrison Bader — a top-tier defensive center fielder — to injury that night, St. Louis has gone just 5-10 and currently sits five games behind both the Brewers and the Cubs.
The Cardinals are also just 1-4 so far against the Cubs season, with a -17 run differential in those contests, so tempers could flare if they continue to scuffle against a surging Cubs team.
Since the preseason, FanGraphs has dropped the Cardinals’ playoff odds from 29% to 9.8%, while the Cubs have risen from 22.9% to 44.3%. So, while there’s still more than half of a season left to play, it’s getting more difficult for Cubs’ management to justify trading any key pieces before the deadline.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Harrison Bader and Jack Flaherty injuries were big blows to this Cardinals identity since they are an organization that typically thrives with pitching and defense, and those two are amongst the best at what they do.
The center fielder and starting pitcher seem likely to remain out through the All-Star break, at a minimum – which is a huge blow to the Cardinals’ playoff hopes since they are already trying to make up fives games in their division.
Since the start of the 2018 season, Bader ranks third amongst center fielders in Defensive Runs Saved (+27, behind only Lorenzo Cain and Kevin Kiermaier), and he ranks sixth on a per-inning basis:
- Keon Broxton (0.29 DRS per inning)
- Byron Buxton (0.19)
- Brett Phillips (0.16)
- Lorenzo Cain (0.16)
- Kevin Kiermaier (0.14)
- Harrison Bader (0.13)
Bader has handled about 75% of the Cardinals’ innings in center field over that span, but when he’s missed time, they have struggled to find an adequate replacement.
Dylan Carlson has played the majority of their innings (344.2, -3 DRS) at the position this season and has shown inadequate range (-4) despite a solid arm (+2) after a solid showing (+1 DRS) in right field last year. He belongs in a corner.
Moreover, Nolan Arenado (+2 DRS, -2 Outs Above Average) isn’t playing up to his expected level on defense, but his bat (133 wRC+) has been as potent as ever of late.
This is an atypical Cardinals team that seemingly needs to outslug their opponents on a relatively consistent basis. They only rank 21st in actual wOBA on offense, but their expected mark (.323 xwOBA) indicates that some poor luck is to blame.
Conversely, their pitching staff has been luckier than any other unit this season with a 27 point differential between their actual (.312 wOBA, 14th) and expected (.339 xwOBA, 24th) indicators.
Carlos Martinez has been a disaster since the start of last season, with an xERA, xFIP, and SIERA all north of 5.00, alongside a 6.7% K-BB%; which is down 10% from both 2017 (his last season as a full-time starter) and 2019 (his only season as a full-time reliever.
His fastball velocity is down a few ticks from peak too, and Martinez no longer has the ability to consistently miss bats:
We’d probably think of the Cubs as a legitimate World Series contender if they hadn’t traded Yu Darvish this offseason. Instead, despite a 37-27 start, we’re still skeptical that they’re willing to hold onto pending free agents like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez.
I somewhat raved about their NL Central futures a couple of weeks ago around +500 to +550 – and I probably should have taken a share myself at that point – but you can still get them at +350 at a few books, including DraftKings, BetMGM and Unibet.
Fangraphs’ ZIPS and Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA project their respective divisional odds at 28.5% and 33.5% (implied +260 to +200) – so I still think that there’s actionable value remaining on Cubs’ divisional futures down to about +300 (25% implied).
The Cardinals should continue to fall off the pace behind Flaherty, Bader, and many regressing pitchers. And while I’m sitting on a bunch of Brewers preseason futures, even I think that their divisional chances per ZIPS and PECOTA – 59% to 62% (implied -144 to -163) could be a bit generous, particularly if one of Woodruff, Burnes or Peralta misses time.
While I’m sitting on a potential ten units of profit on Brewers’ divisional tickets, I could also cover my risk with a single bet on the Cubs.
No disrespect meant to either the Cardinals or the Reds – whom ZIPS (7.3%) and PECOTA (2.9%) are split on, but who aren’t worth betting even at +1200 – but I think that this is a two-team race for the Central unless the Cubs decide to sell.
Chicago has been an average offensive team (.319 xwOBA, 16th) with average defense (+8 DRS, 15th) and average pitching (.329 xwOBA allowed, 21st). Still, they have had a top-five bullpen (3.82 xFIP, 17.3% K-BB%) – which has seemed impossible to score against in tight or tie games.
Moreover, they have some depth on the way back for their offense, with Nico Hoerner, David Bote, and Matt Duffy all set to return soon.
Craig Kimbrel has been one of – if not the best reliever in baseball this season, but my favorite pitcher in the Cubs bullpen is 30-year-old rookie Tommy Nance, a giant of a man who has generated a 68% groundball rate and a 0.91 BABIP, which is obviously unsustainable but speaks to the quality of his power sinker.
It’s one of my favorite pitches in the game, and he’s got a pair of breaking balls that also tunnel well with both his four-seamer and two-seamer:
Tommy Nance, Gross 97mph Front Door Two Seamer. 🤮 pic.twitter.com/AMY0FglOxa
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 31, 2021
If you’re down against this team late in a game, the Nance-Kimbrel combination is an absolute riddle to solve. Best of luck.
I projected the Cubs around 53.75% for both the first five innings and full game on Sunday night, and I don’t see value on either side of the moneyline in either half.
Moreover, I set the F5 total at 5.29 and the full game total at 9.27, so I don’t see any value in either half there either.
However, there is a significant difference in the quality of these two bullpens in a tight game, and I would look to jump in live on the Cubs’ spread if they’re up, or their moneyline if they’re tied or down, once Zach Davies exits this game.
That moment will likely occur around the fourth or fifth inning, but I’m only really interested if the margin is 1-2 runs on either side of the contest at that point.
Lastly, I would recommend placing a wager on the Cubs’ divisional odds down to +300 (but look for the +350 or better out there) in the next couple of days if you want some value on divisional futures or are looking to hedge against some of your risk on Brewers tickets.
Pick: Cubs — Live Bet | Cubs to win the NL Central (bet to +300)