One of the oldest and best rivalries in baseball renews this weekend in St. Louis. The St. Louis Cardinals will host the Chicago Cubs for a three game series beginning Friday night at Busch Stadium. Sell out crowds will pack Busch Stadium, with fans from both teams rooting for their team to beat their rival.
After being the model franchise for the last decade, the St. Louis Cardinals have now watched as the Cubs have vaulted past them. The Cubs have won the NL Central Division the last two seasons, and appear to be the favorites to win a third straight this season. The St. Louis Cardinals are not far off the pace, and would love to end the Cubs’ reign as NL Central champions. The Chicago Cubs are -103 against the Cardinals in the series opener.
Lester Pitching Like an Ace for Cubs
Jon Lester has been terrific for the Cubs since joining them as a free agent in 2015, but he is pitching at an even higher level this season. Lester appears to be headed for another All-Star game, and could find himself in the NL Cy Young race at season’s end. Lester is 7-2 with an impressive 2.22 ERA on the season. Lester will look to pitch the Cubs to a series opening win over the Cardinals.
The biggest surprise for the Cubs this season, has been the dominance of their bullpen. Newcomer Brandon Morrow has been solid in his first year as the Cubs closer, and has converted 15 saves. Steve Cishek and Pedro Strop have also been very impressive out of the bullpen for the Cubs this season.
Wacha’s Resurgence Helping Cards Compete
The Cardinals have been waiting for Michael Wacha to turn the corner in his career, and it appears that he is headed that way in 2018. Wacha has been brilliant so far this season, and is pitching like the ace of the Cardinals staff. The hard throwing right hander is 8-1 with a 2.47 ERA this season. Wacha will look to try to solve the Cubs hitters on Friday night.
St. Louis also features some dominant bullpen arms, but have struggled to find a consistent closer. The Cardinals signed Greg Holland to be their closer this season, but he struggled before landing on the DL. Rookie Jordan Hicks has been the star in the bullpen this season. Hicks is a flamethrower who was taken over the hardest fastball speed from Aroldis Chapman.
Cubs Beat Rival Cardinals
Both the Cubs and Cardinals are trying to chase down the Brewers, so this is a very important series. Each team is sending their top three starting pitchers to the mound, so runs could be hard to come by this weekend. The Cubs have hit Wacha well in the past, and this trend should continue in the series opener. Look for Jon Lester to shut the Cardinals down, and lead the Cubs to victory. Bet the Chicago Cubs -103 against the Cardinals on Friday.