The Chicago Cubs travel to St. Louis to face their division rivals, the Cardinals, for a four-game set, in a series that will likely decide the playoff fates for both teams. The Cubs are coming off a huge 3-1 series win against the Milwaukee Brewers and come into this series red-hot, having won 10 out of their last 12 games. The Cardinals are barely hanging on to a playoff hope as they just dropped 2 of 3 to the Pittsburg Pirates and badly need a sweep against the Cubs if they are to make that final playoff push. The Cubs will start veteran Jon Lester (11-8 4.56 ERA), and the Cards will counter with promising youngster Luke Weaver (7-1 2.05 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 5:15 PM PST from Busch Stadium in St Louis, Missouri.
Chicago Cubs +106 at St Louis Cardinals -126
Jon Lester (11-8 4.56 ERA) vs Luke Weaver (7-1 2.05 ERA)
The Cubs finally broke the curse of the Billy Goat last season and brought home a World Series Championship to a long-suffering and loyal fanbase. It was the first title for the Cubs in over 100 years, and many expected a budding dynasty in Chicago as this team was really good and really young. Unfortunately for the Cubbies faithful, this season got off to a slow start, and they experienced a championship hangover worthy of a party they waited 100 plus years to throw. On July 1st, the Cubs stood at just 40-41, and many were wondering where that dynasty was at.
Fast forward to now, and the Cubs have caught fire and are poised to win the National League Central division title. Entering play today the Cubs hold a 5.5 game lead over the second place Milwaukee Brewers, with these Cardinals 6 games back with just 7 games to play. It would take an epic collapse for the Cubs not to walk away division champs at this point. It is starting to feel special again in Chicago, and the Nationals and Dodgers might be the favorites in the National League, but the Cubs are absolutely going to be a tough out and are getting hot at the right time. They will start October hero Jon Lester tomorrow with a chance to all but clinch the division title.
Jon Lester knows a little something about winning big time late season games for long-suffering fan bases. Lester started and won the decisive game of the 2007 World Series for the Boston Red Sox, and when GM Theo Epstein made the move from Boston to Chicago, Lester was one of the first guys he brought over with him. While Lester’s season numbers aren’t as good as the fans have accustomed to, he has heated up as the games get more important. Lester is 3-1 in September and has helped the Cubs take command of this division title race. In Lester’s last start against the Cardinals on July 9th, he was dominant, pitching eight innings and allowing just two runs while striking out ten. There aren’t many pitchers in the majors that I would rather have on the mound in a late season game that really matters than John Lester.
The Cardinals will counter with a promising, yet relatively unknown Luke Weaver. Weaver has bounced back and forth between the Cardinal’s bullpen and starting rotation and has had fantastic results in both roles. Weaver has been especially good down the stretch. He is 4-0 in September with an ERA of just 1.52. To be fair, the schedule has been a bit of a help to the young right-hander. His four wins in September are against the Reds twice, the Giants, and the Pirates. I don’t want to take anything away from the kid’s results, he has been great, but it’s not like he has been facing the ’27 Yankees over his strong run, mostly noncompeting, weak offensive, squads. We will find out if this guy is ready for primetime in this one. He is facing a heavy hitting Cubs team that would love to end their hated rivals season with a win in this series. If Weaver steps up and shuts down the Cubs tonight, you are going to have to give him a lot of credit.
This line doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, and that is why I jumped all over it. Yes, Lester got rocked his last time out, but he is a tried and true late-season pitcher that his team can count on to show up when they need him. Luke Weaver? Many of you probably had never heard that name before I mentioned him in this article. The Cubs come into this one on fire and have a chance to clinch the Division title on its rival’s field, and I expect that to happen. I’m just not ready to say that a mostly unknown entity in Luke Weaver is ready to be a favorite over John Lester in a big-time late September game. It’s starting to feel a lot like last year as this Cubs team is playing well when it matters and are ready to defend their title. Give me the Cubs as small road underdogs tonight in game one from St. Louis.
Today’s Pick: Cubs +106