In spite of 92-51 record, for those betting baseball the Chicago Cubs have mostly been unplayable as oddmakers have placed inflated prices on them to chase bettors off all season.
This has largely worked for sportsbooks like A-rated Bovada (100% cash bonus), with the Cubs up only +5.4 units in the season. This is bore out in Chicago’s 37-16 record when a -200 or larger money line favorite, down -0.3 units in that role.
Tonight, Chicago can clinch a tie for NL Central crown, which they have not done in eight years. For Cubs fans, winning tonight and tomorrow to clinch division in St. Louis would be special.
For MLB picks I am 34-16, +15.35 units this season and here is how I see this NL Central showdown.
Many wondered why Jason Hammel (14-8, 3.50 ERA and 1.19 WHIP) wanted to return to the Cubs after being traded away to Oakland two years ago. This season, the right-hander has shown why he thought that. Hammel has posted a 1.77 ERA at Wrigley Field versus a 5.26 ERA on the road. He is coming off third horrendous start of the season in which he allowed at least nine runs, all away from home. The 34-year old is only 4-4 lifetime against St. Louis, but has only allowed five runs in past three starts at Busch Stadium covering 19 1/3 innings.
Like his teammates, it just has not been Jamie Garcia’s year, with a 10-12 record and 4.58 ERA. He’s lost his past four decisions and it could have been five, but was bailed out by teammates in 8-5 win at Houston, permitting five runs in five innings. Maybe Garcia is wearing down, having tossed 163 innings, the most he’s thrown since 2011, after several injury-plagued years. In the downward trend, 11 of the 22 home runs allowed have come in these five starts. However, the lefty is 3-3 with a stellar 2.22 ERA versus Chicago.
Last year St. Louis won NL Central with 100 wins and the Cubs finished third in the division with incredible 97 victories. What changed this season?
It begins with the starting pitching. The Cardinals for decades have been known for tremendous starting pitching, but they are not even in the Cubs stratosphere, ranked seventh in the NL with 4.25 ERA, compared to Chicago at baseball-best 2.90.