The Cardinals host the Cubs in the third game of a series that has seen a split in the first two games between two storied rivals. Cardinals righty Jake Westbrook takes on a former Cardinal in Edwin Jackson who goes for the Cubbies. St. Louis is listed as -180 favorites at home against the lowly Cubs in this one with a total of 8.
Jake Westbook makes his second start since going on the disabled list with an inflamed elbow early in the season. Westbrook came out of the gates flying, with a stellar start to the season. The veteran didn’t look so sharp in his first start off the DL last week when he surrendered five runs (three earned) in five innings to the Marlins. Westbrook did get 15 ground ball outs, which is his bread and butter, but allowed eight hits to the light-hitting Marlins squad. Westbrook was not shutdown in his last start against Chicago, which came in early May just before his disabled list stint. The Cubs lineup touched up Westbrook for eight hits and three runs in just five and a third innings of work. Westbrook pitches to contact, which has made him consistently solid over the years but very rarely dominant. Expect the Cubs to put the ball in play against a Westbrook arm that is still getting back to full speed. Because of that, figure the Cubs good for at least three or four runs in this one. Six Cubs have had double-digit at-bats against Westbrook in their careers and should be relatively familiar with the divisional opponent.
On the other side, we have Edwin Jackson who shouldn’t fare too well against a Cardinal’s lineup loaded with big bats top to bottom. Jackson, quite frankly, just hasn’t been very good for quite some time now and boasts a 5.40 ERA this season despite giving up just two earned runs in his last 13 innings of work spanning over two outings. The Cardinals roster has had some major success with Jackson over their career. In 79 career at-bats against the journeyman right-hander, the Cardinals lineup is hitting at a .316 rate with four homeruns. Look for the Cardinals to knock Jackson around for at least a couple runs, like Westbrook, and then get into the Chicago bullpen that isn’t exactly stellar. St. Louis is correctly favored and just about fairly priced at -180.
There is some value with the total at 8. Both starters are almost always good for about two to three runs allowed with likely potential for more in five or six innings of work. While I expect the first five innings total to hit, the full-game appears to be a safer option with two bullpens that have had their struggles at some point during the year thus far. Look for both teams to get a couple runs on the board and for one to push across five or six. Expect the total to get pushed up to 8.5 before first pitch so hop on 8 quickly. Runs+hit+errors over is also a nice play if your book offers it.
Free Pick: Chicago/St. Louis Over 8