Cubs vs Cardinals Score Prediction, Betting Odds, Picks

Cubs vs Cardinals Score Prediction, Betting Odds, Picks

One of the best rivalries in MLB is renewed for the first time this season on Friday night as the Chicago Cubs visit the St. Louis Cardinals with the Cubbies favored on the MLB odds behind NL Rookie of the Year favorite Shota Imanaga.

Can the Cardinals take second place to the Cubs in the National League Central Division?

MLB Picks Cubs -125, Cardinals +115 (total 8)
Expert Prediction Cubs 5, Cardinals 3

Chicago Cubs Betting Lines -156

The Cubs got back their starting infield of second baseman Nico Hoerner and shortstop Dansby Swanson earlier this week from injury. However, former closer Adbert Alzolay has been shut down from throwing for at least two weeks due to a right flexor strain that could lead to season-ending surgery.

The 29-year-old Alzolay was easily the Cubs’ top reliever in 2023, pacing the team with 22 saves and leading their qualified relievers with a 2.67 earned run average. The former top prospect punched out 26.5% of his opponents against a sharp 5.1% walk rate.

Alzolay got out to a much rockier start in 2024, logging a 4.67 ERA in 17 1/3 innings as his strikeout and walk rates swung dramatically in the wrong direction (17.3% and 8%, respectively). His sinker lost a full mile per hour from last year (95.3 mph to 94.3 mph), and his four-seamer is down just over a half mile as well, checking in at 94.7 mph in ’24 after sitting 95.3 mph in ’23.

It’s ace lefty and NL Rookie of the Year favorite Shota Imanaga (5-0) on the hill. Imanaga came away with a no-decision in last Saturday’s 1-0 win over the Pirates, scattering four hits and a walk over seven scoreless innings. He struck out seven but was saddled with a no-decision as the Cubs were also shut down by Bailey Falter.

The 30-year-old Imanaga generated 22 swinging strikes among his 88 pitches, and he now sports a 0.84 ERA — the lowest mark in history through a pitcher’s first nine career MLB starts. Imanaga will also take a 0.91 WHIP and 58:9 K:BB through 53.2 innings into Friday.

Should Imanaga’s 0.84 ERA be sustained, it would be nearly 80 percent lower than the league average after adjusting for park effects. Only Chet Brewer (1947) and Robert Keyes (1944) would have lower ERAs relative to their leagues in baseball history. Imanaga’s 58 strikeouts through his first nine starts is tied for 28th in MLB history, and only 18 pitchers have issued fewer walks than Imanaga (nine) through nine starts (minimum 50 innings pitched).

One major reason for the success has been his fastball, which has been the most effective in the majors. Imanaga’s four-seam fastball has saved 13 runs this season. No other four-seamer has saved more than nine. Yet his average fastball velocity is just 92.0 mph, about 2 mph slower than average .

“If I’m being honest, I’m not really too interested in my own stats or any historic value,” Imanaga said recently through the team interpreter. “But just knowing that there are so many good pitchers that came before me is a good learning experience.”


St. Louis Cardinals Betting Lines +117

Small advantage for the Cardinals in that they were off on Thursday while the Cubs had to finish a home series vs. Atlanta. The Cards impressively swept three games at home to start this week against a very good Baltimore team. The finale was 5-4 on Wednesday as Brendan Donovan doubled home two runs and scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error.

Rookie shortstop Masyn Winn extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a two-out double in the fifth inning Wednesday. Winn hit his second homer of the season in the seventh. He has the 4th-longest active hit streak in Major League Baseball and the 2nd-longest by a Cardinal behind Willson Contreras (14) this season. St. Louis has homered in a season-high 10 straight games, its longest streak since a 12-game run in 2022.

It was the first series sweep this season for the Cardinals, who have won eight of their last 10 games. The Orioles had gone 106 consecutive regular-season series without being swept, a span of more than two years. Baltimore had just eclipsed the 1903-05 New York Giants for the third-longest such streak in MLB history.

“It’s been incredible,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol, who was ejected in the bottom of the third inning of the second game. “We’ve had a lot of guys who are stepping up. It’s fun to watch.”

St. Louis remains without former All-Star catcher Contreras due to a fractured forearm suffered early this month against the Mets. He’s expected to miss another six weeks or so. In addition to his improved framing behind the plate, Contreras had been one of the team’s best hitters with a slash line of .280/.398/.551. That’s elite production for any hitter, let alone one who mans the catcher position. Ivan Herrera has been the primary catcher since the injury.

It’s veteran righty Miles Mikolas on the hill here. Mikolas (3-5) allowed one run on two hits and a walk while striking out four over five innings in a no-decision versus the Red Sox last Saturday. Mikolas threw just 79 pitches (54 strikes) as it’s likely that manager Oliver Marmol didn’t want Mikolas to go through the order a third time in a close game. The lone run on Mikolas’ line was a solo home run by Rafael Devers in the fourth inning.

His performance against the Red Sox showed signs of potential stabilization, especially considering his ability to limit hits and runs in the outing. Mikolas has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his outings this season, but he’s given up five or more runs in his other four starts. He’s at a 5.77 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 39:11 K:BB through 53 innings overall.



Bet Cubs at Cardinals MLB Odds

When: Friday, 8:15 PM ET
Where: Busch Stadium
Pitchers (away/home): Shota Imanaga/Miles Mikolas
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Stream/gameday audio:

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