Friday afternoon at 1:20 pm, the rivals from the south the St. Louis Cardinals (20-11) come calling to Wrigley Field as they take on the Cubs (16-12) for the first time this season. The Cardinals are in first place and come in at 8-2 in their last 10. The Cardinals will throw righty Jack Flaherty (3-1, 4.06 ERA) and the Cubs counter with Kyle Hendricks (1-4, 5.33 ERA). This is basically a toss up game as the Cardinals are favorites -105 but that line could dip to a pick’em closer to first pitch. The over/under is set at 8.
Hendricks needs to become less predictable, he’s coming off his worst outing of the season giving up 7 earned runs in 5 innings against Arizona. He has allowed 37 hits in just 25.1 innings this season, since he’s a finesse pitcher he needs to live on the edge of the zone and mix things up to fool hitters. At home, he has been stellar as usual, having a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings this season. Flaherty for the Cards had his best start of the season last time out going 7 innings allowing 0 runs against Cincinnati. Last year he faced the Cubs 3 times going 5 innings or less in each, however, in 12.2 innings he did strikeout 19 so he has a big arm if he can get the Cubs to fish early, they could be in for a long day.
Players to Watch:
Willson Contreras: Willy has been on fire against righties – .339, 6 HR, 15 RBI with him batting in RBI spots in the lineup either 5th or 6th depending on the day. He will ample chances to do damage tomorrow.
Paul DeJong: He surprisingly leads all NL shortstops in average .333 and is currently riding an 11-game hit streak into Fridays’ matchup.
The Cubs seemed to have righted the ship after a shaky start to the season and haven’t lost a series since April 5-7th in Milwaukee, they are 15-6 after a 1-6 start to the season. The Cardinals meanwhile have gotten off to a torrid start and as a surprise to many lead the NL Central by 3 games. They wanted to remind people they are still threats after most pundits picked either the Cubs or Milwaukee Brewers to win what should be a competitive division. Hendricks will find his form at home and the Cubs will take game 1 of the series take the under as well.
Score: Cubs 4 Cardinals 2 under 8