NL Central Rivalry: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Free MLB Picks

The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs have each captured a win in the first two games of this series heading into the finale on Thursday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs

Chicago's offense has been red-hot in its series against St. Louis

St. Louis dropped an 11-4 decision last night after winning 6-4 in Tuesday night’s series opener that had improved its record to a season-high water mark of +6 at 21-15.  The Cardinals are undefeated in their last eight series, with their last such loss coming in April 8-10 at San Francisco.  The team remains one game ahead of second-place Cincinnati in the National League Central and four games ahead of today’s opponent.  Since the start of the 2009 season, the Cardinals hold just a 18-16 margin over the Cubs.  St. Louis will continue its six-game road trip following this game without manager Tony LaRussa in the dugout, as he recovers from being diagnosed with shingles.  Bench coach Joe Pettini is serving as acting manager.

Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia will be making his eighth start of the season, coming in with a 4-0 record and 1.99 ERA.  Many are wondering why the left-hander has drastically better numbers at home (10-5, 1.85 ERA) than on the road (8-4, 3.83 ERA), but only Garcia can answer that question.  “I don’t think it affects me going to any place,” he commented.  “I try to treat every place I go the same.  Do your work and prepare yourself before the game.”  He will be making his third career appearance (second start) against the Cubs, going 0-1 with a 2.57 ERA, while allowing four runs in six innings of a 5-1 loss at Busch Stadium.

Chicago is 6-5 in its last 11 games and will be playing the sixth game of a nine-game homestand this afternoon.  The Cubs will try to build off a season-high scoring output, which was aided by 17 hits and shortstop Starlin Castro going 4 for 4 with three RBIs.  The second-year player owns a .375 average in 15 games against St. Louis.  “We needed one of these,” said Cubs manager Mike Quade of the team’s blowout win Wednesday.  “I don’t care if it took four hours, eight hours, whatever.  It was good for us and good for me.”  First baseman Carlos Pena is also doing his part in the lineup, going 10-for-22 in his last seven games.  The club has been red-hot at the plate, totaling 30 hits in the last two games.

Cubs starting pitcher Casey Coleman is 1-2 with a 6.29 ERA in six starts this season and will be making his third career appearance (second start) versus the Cardinals.  He has produced a 1-0 record and 2.00 ERA in those previous outings against St. Louis, allowing the opposition to hit for a .156 average.  The right-hander is 0-1 with a 8.31 ERA in two home starts, allowing eight runs and 10 hits over 8.2 innings.

Bettors will be interested in backing the Cubs due to their 12-4 record versus left-handed starters, while the Cardinals are 1-4 in Garcia’s last five road starts.

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