The Chicago Cubs have pushed the 1st place St. Louis Cardinals to the brink of elimination with a big victory yesterday. If the Cardinals lose the season was all for nothing. You don’t win 100 games and not plan on making the World Series, but with a Cubs win today, the Cards will be sent home early. For the Cardinals this is win the World Series or the season was a waste in my opinion. The Cards didn’t have the comfort of playing in St. Louis yesterday, where they’ve been so deadly, and today we’ll be in Chicago at Wrigley Field for game 4. The Cubs have been in this position before, albeit many years ago, where they have had a lead in a series and then “the curse” struck. I don’t know, the Cardinals are a good team, so if the Cubs lose this series I’m not sure it is because of a curse but it’ll certainly feel like they are forever cursed. The Cubs can move on to the next round with a win tonight, though, and all of that will be an afterthought. Well, until maybe the next round. However, if the Cubs play like they did last night, they won’t have to worry about any curse talk.
It has been a pretty entertaining postseason this year. The Blue Jays forced a game 7 yesterday, getting a big game from their offense to beat the Rangers 8-4. The win series back to Toronto for a final and deciding game. The Jays will enter as the favorites in that one. It looks like Stroman will get the nod for the Blue Jays, as they’re not going to wait to gamble with Price on the mound given his history against the Rangers. Price is great, but even the best pitchers have one or two teams that they struggle against. The Cardinals will try and force an extra game in this series just like the Blue Jays did. Win and go back home to a place they have won a ton of ball games in this series. Lose and go home to prepare for the offseason. This should be a good one against the Cardinals and Cubs. Let’s look for a winner in this NLDS showdown.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Chicago Cubs
John Lackey (14-10, 2.68 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (10-7, 3.74)
The Cubs know they might be in trouble if this series goes back to St. Louis. This is a real big game for both squads, which I suppose goes without saying. Lackey pitched game 1 of this series and he put forth an impressive effort, holding the Cubs to 0 hits and only 2 hits through 7.1 innings. He’s been pitching well lately and will need him to be like that again today. Note that Lackey holds a 1.96 ERA and 0.82 WHIP in his last three starts. Also note that Lackey will be pitching on short rest. But this is the postseason and it is a must win situation for the Cardinals. He is going to suck it up and I don’t believe it’ll end up playing a huge role.
On the other side the Cubs go with Jason Hammel. Hammel isn’t going to invoke any feelings of confidence in any way, but he can still get the job done. Yesterday the Cubs had the luxury of going with Arrieta, but it was actually the offense that took care of things. He actually had his worst start since May. Hammel posted a 3.86 ERA in his last three outings and has a 3.99 at home. A lot of times in these postseason spots all of the statistics can be thrown out the window. It comes down to who gives the better effort. I don’t think it’s going to be easy here, but I think the Cards squeeze out a victory behind Lackey and get this series back to St. Louis for game 5. Riding Hammel as a -130 favorite against the Cards who are desperate doesn’t look like a better bet to me.
PICK: CARDINALS TO WIN +109