The first-place St. Louis Cardinals will be happy to come home to Busch Stadium after a long nine game road trip beginning in Cincinnati and ending in Miami. They welcome the lowly Cubs that sit 15 games behind St. Louis in the National League Central Division. Rookie phenom Shelby Miller takes on Travis Wood for Chicago.
Shelby Miller has been stellar for the Cardinals all season and he gets set to make his first start of the year against the Chicago Cubs. Miller comes off of his worst outing all year when he surrendered four runs in six innings against the New York Mets. That alone gives you a pretty good indication of how dominant Miller has been all season. No player on the Cubs has had more than a single career at-bat against Miller so runs could be at a premium in this one without any familiarity on the part of the road team. The Cubs haven’t exactly been an offensive juggernaut this season scoring just 271 runs year to date.
For as good as Shelby Miller has been, Travis Wood might be the bigger surprise in his first season with the Chicago Cubs. Wood is a crafty left-hander with a plus fastball and pretty good off-speed stuff. Wood is just 5-5 this season mostly due to the anemic Cubs team that surrounds him on every start. Don’t let his record fool you. Wood has been dominant posting a 2.65 ERA and a WHIP that is exactly 1.00. In early May Wood dazzled the Cardinals at Wrigley Field when he allowed just one run (an Allen Craig solo blast) in six strong innings of work. He fanned 8 Cardinals in the process and the Cubs walked away home winners by a score of 2-1. Going to Busch Stadium and dueling with Shelby Miller is only a tougher task than Wood’s original but the lefty should be up for the challenge. His career numbers against Cardinals’ hitters, however, do not suggest he should continue to find success. St. Louis batters have posted a .327 batting average in over 100 career at-bats against Wood but he has also re-defined himself in 2013 as a potential stud in a starting rotation.
The Cardinals open as rather large favorites in a game with a relatively low total (7.5). This immediately triggers a look at the runline, where Chicago is -130 to win the game or lose by a single run. I like the value with Chicago +1.5 but the total also appears to be half of a run too high. Both are viable options to play but I’m going with the under 7.5 on the total in a game that should be low-scoring the whole way.
Free Pick: Chicago/St. Louis under 7.5 (-110)