Cardinals at Cubs MLB Pick July 19

by Taylor Smith
on July 19, 2018
4

Minute Read

St. Louis Cardinals (+136)
VS
Chicago Cubs (-146)
Total: 9

Major League Baseball’s All-Star break officially comes to an end on Thursday. While there is just one game on the baseball schedule, it still counts. Thursday sees the beginning of a 4-game weekend series between 2 of baseball’s biggest rivals. The Chicago Cubs will play host to the St. Louis Cardinals. Carlos Martinez will climb the mound for the visitors at Wrigley opposite Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks.

Entering play Thursday, the Cubs hold a 2.5-game lead over the Milwaukee Brewers for the top spot in the National League Central. The Cardinals, who just fired longtime manager Mike Matheny last week, find themselves at 48-46 on the year and 7.5 games south of Chicago. St. Louis is still very much alive in the playoffs picture despite their recent struggles, and this weekend will afford them a huge opportunity to gain some ground on the division leaders.

It has been a wildly up-and-down campaign to this point for Martinez. The ace of the St. Louis staff is 6-5 on the year with a 3.08 ERA, which looks solid enough. If you do a little digging, though, it’s easy to see that CarMart hasn’t enjoyed a smooth ride thus far. His 4.57 SIERA suggests that 3.08 ERA is incredibly lucky.

The right-hander has also seen his strikeout rate dip to 21.6 percent, which is quite a bit lower than his career mark of 23.1 percent. Walks have also been a massive problem for him. Martinez has an unsightly 11.7 percent walk rate so far in 2018, which is one of the worst marks in the league among starting pitchers. Martinez has never exactly been a low-walk type of pitcher, but he’s also never seen his BB% climb into double figures over the course of an entire season before.

In his last start against the Reds, the former All-Star allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in 5 innings of work. Prior to that, he had actually been in excellent form. Martinez had allowed just a total of 4 earned runs over 19 innings of work in his previous 3 starts against the Indians, Diamondbacks and Giants. Martinez is going to have to pitch like an ace for the Cards to have any real shot at legitimate playoff contention this season, and so far his inconsistency has been a major issue.

Martinez has also really struggled over the course of his career in terms of getting left-handed hitters out. The Dominican native has allowed a .328 wOBA over the course of his career to lefties, with 39 of the 64 career homers he’s allowed also coming off of lefty bats. He has also allowed a hard contact rate over 37 percent, which is suboptimal.

As for Hendricks, he hasn’t looked quite the same so far this year, either. His 3.92 ERA is decent, but it’s belied by a 4.33 SIERA. The right-hander is basically a right-handed version of Dallas Keuchel. Rather than blowing hitters away with velocity and racking up strikeouts, Hendricks gets guys out by inducing soft contact ground balls.

After having a ground ball rate north of 50 percent last season, Hendricks has seen it dip to around 46 percent thus far in 2018. The hard contact rate he’s allowed (32 percent) is also the highest of his career to this point. Interestingly enough, the 17 home runs Hendricks has allowed already matches his total from all of last season.

Like Martinez, the Cubs righty keeps fellow right-handers in check fairly well while struggling quite a bit more against left-handed bats. Fortunately, the Cardinals don’t have many of those. Matt Carpenter and Kolten Wong are the most fearsome lefty bats in the Cardinals lineup. While Carpenter is a legitimate star, Wong isn’t really someone to fear. Hendricks isn’t an ideal matchup for the majority of the hitters St. Louis will be throwing his way.

With the way Martinez has been prone to blow-ups, the Cubs are in a solid spot tonight. It’s also going to be a warm night in Chicago with winds blowing out toward left field around 10-to-11 miles per hour. We know the ball flies at Wrigley when the winds are cooperating, and the hitting conditions tonight look just about as good as you can get for a night game in this park.

My favorite bet here is the Cubs -1 1/2 (+132) on the runline. Martinez looked a bit wobbly in his last start, and the Cubs have no shortage of lefties to give him issues. I also think you can hit the over on 9 runs here considering the pristine hitting weather. The main bet is the Cubs on the runline, however.

Pick: Cubs -1 1/2
+132

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