Cardinals vs Cubs Pick Today | MLB Odds, Preview, Predictions for Friday, July 21
Via Michael Reaves/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Steele #35 of the Chicago Cubs delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox during the second inning at Wrigley Field on July 16, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.
Cardinals vs. Cubs Odds
-105 / -115
-105 / -115
Justin Steele had perhaps his worst outing in his last appearance against the Boston Red Sox, but this doesn't erase that he is probably the best pitcher on the Chicago Cubs (yes, even over Marcus Stroman).
Steele will toss for the Cubs on Friday in a division rivalry game with the St. Louis Cardinals, who will start Jack Flaherty on the mound. Flaherty may induce weaker-than-average contact, but outside of three starts in July, he has been pretty weak on the season.
While the Cardinals' hitters have thrived against lefties, the Cubs have matched those impressive numbers against right-handed pitchers in the last month. Consequently, Steele and the Cubs' bullpen should give Chicago an edge in this matchup on Friday.
Find a betting pick, preview and prediction for Cardinals vs. Cubs below.
Flaherty owns a 1.45 ERA in July, but his starts have come against the Nationals, Marlins, and Yankees — and with Aaron Judge sidelined for New York, the Marlins are probably the best-hitting team out of the bunch.
Overall this season, Flaherty owns a 4.29 ERA against a 4.62 xERA. He ranks in the 82nd percentile in Average Exit Velocity and in the 74th percentile in Hard-Hit Rate, but otherwise, he has not been impressive. His 22.2% Strikeout Rate and 11.8% Walk Rate are abysmal, and the Cubs should take advantage as they have been relatively patient at the plate over the last month.
The Cards can hit, and their offense is not the reason for their underachievement this season. In the last month, they have a 9.7% Walk Rate, 27.7% Strikeout Rate, .775 OPS and 115 wRC+ off of lefties. Most lefties they have faced are not of Steele's caliber, though. They have seven bats eclipsing a .330 xwOBA off of southpaws on the season, so they have impressive depth.
In relief, the Cards have a 19.9% Strikeout Rate, 9.8% Walk Rate and a 4.12 xFIP in July. They have only three active relievers below a 4.00 xFIP, so this may not get the job done if Flaherty struggles with his control, as he is prone to do.
Steele has several advantages over Flaherty. The Cubs' southpaw ranks in the 92nd percentile in Average Exit Velocity and in the 86th percentile in Hard-Hit Rate, with both of those stats being superior to Flaherty's. His Strikeout Rate is similar to Flaherty's at 22%, but his ERA of 2.96 against a 3.34 xERA is far better. Much of this has to do with getting runners to chase while limiting free passes by allowing just a 5.1% Walk Rate.
The Cubs have exceeded expectations with the bats this season and have been great off of righties in the last month, with an 8.9% Walk Rate, 23.4% Strikeout Rate, .770 OPS and 111 wRC+ over that span. This is very much in line with the strong Cardinals lineup, so there is not much of an edge here.
The Cubs have only four active hitters with a .330+ xwOBA on the season off of righties, so Dansby Swanson being on the Injured List does not help. Nonetheless, they should compete against a weaker starter.
Patrick Wisdom – Chicago Cubs (17)
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In relief, the Cubs have a 22.2% Strikeout Rate, 10.4% Walk Rate, and 4.62 xFIP in July. They have only two active arms below the 4.00 xFIP mark, but given Steele’s ability to throw deep into games, they should be in better shape than the Cardinals.
Cardinals vs. Cubs Betting Pick
The Cardinals have a better-hitting team overall, but Justin Steele should hold them in check. Look for the Cubs to build a small lead off of Flaherty and tack on some more runs against the weaker part of the St. Louis bullpen.
Take the Cubs from -118 on the moneyline as the slight home favorites, and play them to -135.