MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Cardinals: Can St. Louis’ Miles Mikolas Keep Chicago’s Lineup Quiet? (Saturday, May 22)

MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cubs vs. Cardinals: Can St. Louis’ Miles Mikolas Keep Chicago’s Lineup Quiet? (Saturday, May 22) article feature image

Scott Kane/Getty Images. Pictured: Miles Mikolas #39 of the St. Louis Cardinals.

  • The Cubs and Cardinals meet on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. ET for the second matchup in their three-game regular-season series.
  • St. Louis squandered a winnable game on Friday, but the return of starting pitcher Miles Mikolas could stir the team to rally in Saturday's rematch.
  • Below, check out our MLB betting preview for Cubs vs. Cardinals, including updated odds, plus comprehensive analysis and a betting recommendation from MLB analyst Kenny Ducey.

Cubs vs. Cardinals Odds

Cubs Odds-108
Cardinals Odds-108
Time7:15 p.m. ET
TVFOX (Regional)
Odds updated Saturday morning and via FanDuel.

After a close game got away from the Cardinals in the eighth inning on Friday, St. Louis is back for revenge on Saturday in the second of a three-game set against their division rivals, the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs have come alive at the plate in unexpected fashion, but could that be their downfall against the returning Miles Mikolas? Let's analyze Saturday's matchup to discern where the value lies here.

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Chicago Cubs

Has Chicago Moved Past Its Hitting Slump?

Remember when the Cubs couldn't hit? Me neither.

Nico Hoerner's back up, Joc Pederson's healthy, and Chicago is swinging the stick. The club ranks ninth in baseball over the past two weeks with a splendid 116 wRC+, winning eight games in the process.

The biggest improvement has come via swinging strike rate. The Cubs report the the ninth-lowest swinging strike rate in baseball over that span at 10.9%. That's impressive considering that the Cubs had the third-highest rate in 2019 and ranked 11th in that category last season.

Although the team's 2021 swinging strike rate is still above average, it's encouraging to actually see Chicago closer to the top than the bottom. Furthermore, it's encouraging to see the Cubs care about actually making contact with the baseball in recent games. Chicago has just a 22.6% strikeout rate over the past two weeks, which is also fantastic.

What to Expect from Cubs Starting Pitcher Adbert Alzolay

"Fantastic" isn't exactly an adjective you can use about 26-year-old Adbert Alzolay (2-3), though it's hard to say he's been bad. If anything, he's been exactly league-average with a 4.17 xERA, though his numbers tell a bit deeper of a story.

His strikeout rate (27.5%) is solid, which has become a theme over the past two seasons. But best of all, Alzolay hasn't walked anybody, granting only eight free passes in 37 innings spanning seven starts.

He's hardly been the reason the Cubs have won games, but he certainly hasn't taken them out of it, which is about all you can ask for when you get into the middle of the rotation.

St. Louis Cardinals

Miles Mikolas Makes His Cardinals Return

Welcome back, Lizard King.

Miles Mikolas will be making his long-awaited return. He rejoins a Cardinals rotation that is not necessarily missing a frontline starter but would nonetheless benefit greatly by bolstering its depth in the rotation. Carlos Martinez has had another forgettable season, and John Gant is more of a traffic cop out there than a hurler with so many runners on base at all times.

If Mikolas could return anywhere close to his 2018 form, St. Louis would take a big step forward in its quest to take the NL Central by the horns.

What to Expect in Mikolas' First Game Back

Let's talk about who Mikolas is as a pitcher, so we can profile this matchup against the Cubs.

He's always been great at commanding the zone, and he owns a stellar 3.9% walk rate over his last two big-league seasons. Mikolas has pitched to contact during his career revival in St. Louis, inducing ground balls at a 48% rate and posting an above-average 32.6% hard-hit rate.

The problem is that Mikolas hasn't pitched in two seasons, and at age 32 there's no telling what guy we're going to get. We could see him come out like Kyle Hendricks, lacking the command to pitch successfully to contact, or we could see him pick up right where he left off.

Mikolas may only pitch three or four innings as the Cardinals work him back to 100% health; he pitched 12 1/3 innings in three rehab starts. Either way, it should help the Cardinals offense settle in — especially after failing to capitalize with runners on yesterday.

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Cubs-Cardinals Pick

This new version of the Cubs hasn't lived on walks and homers like we're used to. So, I'm inclined to believe in a guy like Mikolas to keep traffic off the base paths with his soft contact-inducing ways.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals lineup has fallen on hard times lately with some injuries doing them in, but it has been surprisingly efficient at the plate despite being short-staffed.

Alzolay has yet to give up fewer than two runs in a game all season, and I expect the Cardinals to come out swinging at home against a guy with very hittable stuff. I'm backing the Cardinals to jump out in front early with a first five-inning moneyline bet.

Pick: Cardinals First Five ML (-129)

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