Cardinals Clash With Cubs on the Eve of Playoffs
With their spot in the postseason wrapped up, the St. Louis Cardinals will close out the regular season with a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs that starts on Friday. There is nothing on the line for either team, although this is a heated rivalry. Also, the Cardinals will do their best to keep everyone fresh ahead of a date with either the Dodgers or Giants next Wednesday in a one-game playoff.
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It’s All Over
Whether they win next week’s Wild Card Game or not, the Cardinals should be praised just for getting to the postseason. They were far from contention at the trade deadline but put together an amazing 18-game winning streak and ended up running away with the second Wild Card spot. They will also have a chance to win their 90th game of the season on Friday night.
Meanwhile, the Cubs took a far different approach to things, as they sat just three games behind St. Louis at the deadline. But on the heels of a four-game losing streak, the Cubs traded away several star players and predictably stumbled late in the season. They now sit with 90 losses heading into the final weekend of the season.
Building a Mystery
As of Friday morning, the Cubs are yet to announce a starter for the game. Chicago’s rotation is a little short-handed these days, especially with Zach Davies recently being shut down for the rest of the season. This will likely be a bullpen game for the Cubs, with Keegan Thompson being the best candidate to give the Cubs some length.
Regardless of who pitches for the Cubs, the St. Louis lineup will be difficult to traverse multiple times. Outside of getting shut out on Wednesday, the Cardinals have heated up offensively during their winning streak, scoring 32 runs during a four-game series in Chicago last weekend. Paul Goldschmidt has played a huge role in the team’s late surge after a rough first half of the season, although young outfielders Harrison Bader, Tyler O’Neill, and Dylan Carlson have also been instrumental for the Cards down the stretch.
On the Hudson
Fresh off the IL, Dakota Hudson will start for the Cardinals on Friday in his first start and second appearances of 2021. Hudson is one year and a few days removed from Tommy John surgery, which he had after going 3-2 with a 2.77 ERA last season. He pitched 3.2 innings out of the bullpen against the Cubs last week, giving up two runs on four hits with the Cardinals hoping that he can pitch well enough on Friday to perhaps factor into their postseason plans.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are in a little bit of a groove after winning back-to-back games against the Pirates this week to snap a seven-game losing streak. Despite that losing streak, the Chicago lineup has averaged 4.9 runs per game over the last ten games of September. The likes of Frank Schwindel, Matt Duffy, Willson Contreras, and Rafael Ortega all performed well during the second half of September, so the Cubs still have some hitters who can do some damage.
Better Red Than Anything
Regardless of the betting odds, the Cardinals have become the safest bet in baseball down the stretch. Obviously, Hudson making his second appearance after Tommy John surgery adds a little uncertainty to the equation. But it’s fine to put your faith in the Cards and set your betting pick for the Cards to beat the Cubs on Friday.