Chicago Cubs (0-0) at St Louis (0-0)
When: Friday, October 9th, 2015
Where: Busch Stadium, St Louis, MO
Time: 6:45 ET
TV: TBS Radio: XM 183, 89, 81
The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will renew their bitter rivalry in the 2015 National League Division Series beginning Friday night in St. Louis. The Cubs are coming into this series with a lot of momentum after beating the Pirates on Wednesday 4-0 in the N.L. Wild Card game. Jake Arrieta was his usual dominant self in the victory, going the distance. Kyle Schwarber was the offensive hero with a 2-run homerun that went into the Allegheny River. The Cubs won’t have Arrieta until at least game 3, so tonight they will go with a postseason veteran in Jon Lester. He limited opponents to two or fewer earned runs in 5 of his final 6 starts, with the lone mediocre outing coming when he surrendered 4 runs in 6 innings to the Cardinals on September 20th. The two-time World Series champion was better 11 days earlier in St. Louis, when he yielded 1 run and 2 hits over 7 innings. Lester is 6-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 career postseason games, which includes 12 starts.
The Cardinals finished the regular season with the best record in Baseball at 100-62, just 3 games better than the Cubs. Though, they had things clinched up in the final week, the Cardinals failed to score a single run in a 3-game sweep to the Braves in Atlanta. That is not the kind of momentum they need coming into the Playoffs. Overall, they were 24th in runs scored and 25th in homers. They were number 1 in team ERA at 2.94 and had the most quality starts (106) in Baseball. Catcher Yadier Molina, who last played September 20th, practiced on Wednesday and is expected to play with a splint to help his injured thumb. Veteran John Lackey will start for St. Louis tonight and is a two-time World Series winner – with the 2002 Angels and 2013 Red Sox. He finished the season strong allowinga total of 7 runs in his final 5 regular-season starts. Lackey has been really good at home posting a 9-4 record and a 1.93 ERA, including a pair of home starts against Chicago in which he yielded a total of 3 runs in 14 2/3 innings. Lackey is 7-5 with a 3.08 ERA in 21 career postseason games – 18 starts.
This will be a fun series to watch. These clubs do not like each other and batters were hit 17 times this year in their games. The Cardinals won 11 of the 18 games, but Chicago took 6 of the last 9. It’s all about momentum in the Playoffs and the Cubs simply have more right now. I’ll take the Cubs tonight and in the series.
Pick: Cubs -105