Cubs vs Cardinals Props | Home Run, Total Bases Odds, Picks for London Series (Saturday, June 24)
Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Nolan Arenado
The London games are finally back.
Starting on Saturday, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals begin a two-game series, as MLB makes its long-awaited return to London Stadium. The last series took place in 2019 when the Yankees and Red Sox squared off. The two games finished with 30 and 20 runs, respectively.
Saturday starts at 1:10 p.m. ET and is a standalone game broadcast by FOX. Justin Steele gets the nod for Chicago while Adam Wainwright will take the mound for St. Louis.
I’m here to break down both offenses, letting you know who is hot or cold and who you could potentially target based on previous success split-wise.
We’ll start with a quick synopsis of each starter:
Adam Wainwright (STL)
The wheels have fallen off for Adam Wainwright. The 41-year-old returned from injury at the beginning of May and has never given up less than three total runs across eight starts. His strikeout rate is a career-low 11.9% and he ranks in the bottom 2% of all pitchers in both whiff rate and xBA (.313).
His curveball hasn’t had the same success as years past. Normally his saving grace, the Uncle Charlie has been tattooed to a .301 xBA. His sinker has been even worse (.351 xBA), and across the board he’s seen his barrel rate nearly double (11.0%).
The ineffectiveness of his pitches has led to a decrease in ground balls and increase in extra base hits. His velocity has dipped across the board once again — his sinker by 1.6 mph — and he’s become nothing more than a soft-tossing righty entering the end of his career.
Justin Steele (CHC)
Justin Steele doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but his pinpoint command and a dominant secondary pitch — the slider — has led to a dominant third year in the bigs.
Steele ranks in the top 2% in average exit velocity and has a sub-30 hard-hit%, among the best in baseball, especially among starting pitchers. His strikeout rate, while below-average, remains above 20% and he issues very few props/walks">walks.
Across the board, Steele has impressive numbers for a southpaw. His xERA (3.12) is only slightly higher than actual (2.71) and he’s posted another near-50% ground ball rate.
It is important to note that Steele returned from injury last week against the Baltimore Orioles, throwing five innings of two-run ball. Given the extra rest because of the flight overseas, Steele should be a full go for his second June start.
Cardinals Offense Breakdown
Let’s start with the two players everybody will look to bet on in this matchup: Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
Against Steele, Goldschmidt is 4-for-10 with a home run. Arenado is 3-for-8 with a triple.
It may come as a surprise, but Goldschmidt has struggled against left-handed pitching this season. His wRC+ (105) is only slightly above average and his ISO (.114) is shockingly low. He has just one home run in 70 at-bats against lefties (1.4%) and has six extra base hits overall.
While his average remains level against both arms, Goldschmidt has hit for way more power against right-handed pitching. His OPS (.910) is drastically higher than against southpaws (.742), as is his extra-base hit rate: 43.5% of hits vs. 30% against righties.
As for Arenado, he is one of the more effective Cardinal bats against lefties (129 wRC+) and has by far the most power (.300 ISO) in that lineup. While he is only hitting .240 against southpaws, his OPS sits at .862 and 50% of his hits have gone for extra bases.
He is slowly returning to normalcy after an incredibly slow April. Entering Saturday, his average on the month sits at .300 and he’s hit six home runs. His rolling wOBA and hard-hit rate, as opposed to Goldschmidt's, is drastic.
If you wanted to back one of the heavy hitters in this Cardinals offense, my lean would be toward Arenado. He is trending up and has much more success analytically against lefties than Goldschmidt has this season.
Two players that I would keep an eye on that should have way better odds than Goldy and Arenado are Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson. Both are switch hitters whofind way more success hitting from the right side than the left.
Edman (137 wRC+) and Carlson (135 wRC+) also carry some pop for players not widely regarded as power hitters. Edman has an .861 OPS against southpaws — .662 vs. righties — and 43% of all hits have gone for extra bases.
Carlson’s success — .840 OPS vs. .686 — has been in a much more limited fashion because he battled an ankle injury that held him out nearly a month. Three of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases against lefties and he has an impressive .302 average.
Neither of these hitters tear the leather off the ball. Carlson does have an impressive — and career-best — 9.3 barrel%, which is nothing to gawk at. Edman rarely swings and misses and while his barrel rate is much lower (5.0%), his speed also makes him an extra-base threat on bloop hits. He is 3-for-7 lifetime with two walks against Steele.
I would likely stay away from Wilson Contreras (87 wRC+) but if you wanted to back the right-hander, it’d be as a long shot home run (.250 ISO). Interestingly enough, Jordan Walker has just a 32 wRC+ against left-handed pitching, though it’s been just 22 at-bats (1 HR).
Cubs Offense Breakdown
The Cubs are known for their success against left-handed pitching but they still draw a favorable matchup given Wainwright takes the mound on Saturday.
It’s important to note that Dansby Swanson enters day-to-day after missing Wednesday’s series finale with Pittsburgh due to a wrist injury. Patrick Wisdom is on the injured list, two of the plus-hitters against righties in this Cubs lineup.
There aren’t many eye-popping names in this lineup, so we’ll start with Christopher Morel, who has fared the best against righties. I’m still not totally sure why he bats so low in the lineup given his success — 163 wRC+, .372 ISO vs. RHP — at the plate.
The 23-year-old ranks inside the top 10% of all hitters in max exit velocity and has a .556 xSLG and impressive 17.6 barrel%. Obviously with such a powerful swing — and young age — oftentimes strikeout rates are high. Morel has improved slightly, but strikes out around a 30-percent clip.
If Morel were batting inside the top five, he’d be a consistent prop favorite of mine. Against right-handed pitching, he has a .999 OPS and has hit 10 home runs in 94 at-bats (27 hits).
Mike Tauchman and Ian Happ are the other two with impressive wRC+ numbers — both at 129 — against righties. Tauchman is by no means a power hitter and has great plate discipline. He has a .295 xBA thus far and a fifth of his hits have gone for extra bases. He is also an on-base machine with 13 walks across 83 plate appearances.
The switch-hitting Happ has all five home runs from the left side of the plate. His OPS is significantly higher against right-handed pitching (.826 vs. .693) and 35% of his hits overall have gone for extra bases. He too has a great eye — which can leave some cause for concern when it comes to betting total bases props.
Tauchman has been leading off as of late and could be live for a run scored depending on the number. Happ often bats cleanup and would be better suited for a HR or total bases prop.
Both Happ and Morel in particular had slumped for a bit but over the last 10-15 games have seen their wOBA and hard-hit% slowly rise.
I’d be remiss not to mention Seiya Suzuki (101 wRC+) and Nico Hoerner (100 wRC+). Both are about average against right-handed pitching and hit for contact. Suzuki has been much better against lefties — .357 average vs. .238 — while Hoerner is about the same against both sides.
From a hits perspective, Hoerner is one of the best contact-hitters in baseball. He ranks in the top 2% of hitters in both strikeout and whiff rate and has a .289 xBA. Hoerner rarely walks, too.
I would likely try to avoid Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson based on their performances over the last couple of weeks. Bellinger also has a career-worst 6.2 barrel% as his power has really diminished from recent seasons. Both him and Swanson have seen a decline in wOBA, hard-hit rate and ISO of late.
Both bullpens have been relatively impressive in the first half of the season. To date, both are inside the top 11 in xFIP and top half in WAR.
There are some weaknesses, though. Cardinals closer Ryan Hesley is on the injured list and he is the most consistent reliever in the backend of the bullpen. Jordan Hicks and Giovanny Gallegos have been relied on in high-leverage opportunities, the latter blowing two saves in June thus far.
The Cubs have a rotating closer role right now. Adbert Alzolay is the current closer and he hasn’t given up a run in his last nine appearances. Chicago walks the sixth-most batters and also have a pair of relievers — Brad Boxberger and Brandon Hughes — on the injured list as well.
If managers are quick to warm up their bullpen, this could be a relatively low-scoring game. But as we’ve seen in London in the past, runs don’t come at a premium. And some of these relievers are no strangers to blow ups in the past.
DiSturco's Prop Bets for Cubs vs. Cardinals
Christopher Morel: 0.5u on o1.5 total bases (+100), .1u on HR (+360)
Dylan Carlson: 0.5u on o1.5 total bars (+130), .1u on HR (+800)
Those are my two favorite props on each side. If you want to add more, my next recommendation for St. Louis would be Edman o1.5 total bases (-110) or Arenado HR (+290). For the Cubs, Happ HR (+425) or 1.5 TBs (-115).