St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
MLB: 07.00 PM EST
July 19, 2018
The only action on the first Thursday after the MLB All-Star break will take place at Wrigley Field, where the 1st place Chicago Cubs will play host to their rival St. Louis Cardinals in the first of a five-game series that includes a Saturday doubleheader. The Cubs have won six of eight ballgames, including a three-game sweep of lowly San Diego entering the All-Star festivities that catapulted them 2.5 games above Milwaukee for the NL Central lead. St. Louis, meanwhile, is just two games above .500, most recently enduring a skid that cost manager Mike Matheny his tenure as frontman for the Redbirds; interim manager Mike Schildt will be at the helm for just the second time in his career.
STARTING PITCHERS: St. Louis RHP Carlos Martinez (6-5, 3.08 ERA) vs. Chicago RHP Kyle Hendricks (6-8, 3.92 ERA)
Thursday night’s contests will feature two starters intimately familiar with facing the opposition. Cardinals ace Martinez will be making his 16th career start against the North Siders, and he’s struggled at times with the Cubs’ high-octant offense, with a career 4.58 ERA against Chicago (well above his career mark of 3.38). Hendricks, meanwhile, has been nothing short of solid against St. Louis, with a 3.43 ERA in 11 career outings against them. He’s been solid as of late after a rocky start to 2018, and actually defeated Martinez at Busch Stadium earlier in the year.
This contest finds two teams trending in opposite directions; the Cubs have caught fire in recent weeks and appear to be in a position to run away with the NL Central as they have the past two seasons, while the Cardinals have made several changes to the coaching staff and are trying to stay afloat in a competitive division. I’ll take Chicago to welcome back their boys in style, as a long West Coast road trip followed by the All-Star break has kept the Cubs out of Wrigley Field for almost two weeks. Look for them to continue their surge of good play against a St. Louis team that’s fading fast.
Our Free MLB Pick: Chicago Cubs ML