Chicago Cubs+146 at St. Louis Cardinals -156 (Total: 7)
Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.06 ERA) vs. Jake Westbrook (4-2, 1.76 ERA)
How bad has the run support been for Ryan Dempster this season? He leads all of baseball in ERA with a 1.06, and has yet to earn a single victory in 2012! That my friends, is a feat you are not likely to see replicated anytime soon. Suffice it to say Dempster probably doesn’t find the anomaly quite as amusing as I do…
From the pitching matchup at a glance, it appears Dempster could be in line for some more frustration and heartbreak tonight when the Cubbies dig into the batter’s box against the nearly-equally on fire Jake Westbrook. Westbrook doesn’t get the nearly the attention of teammates Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright, but so far this season, he has been the best pitcher on an excellent Cardinals staff.
The Cardinal offense has been the best in the National League thus far, though they did hit a little snag this weekend hosting Atlanta. They still scored plenty of runs, but the Redbirds suffered their first season sweep of the 2012 season. Chicago meanwhile, has to be feeling pretty good about themselves after snapping a torturous 10-game losing streak to the rival Brewers.
The Cubs, despite their obviously inferior record, do have a couple of interesting stats working for them. They are 5-1 in the opening game of their last six series, and are 9-4 in Dempster’s last 13 starts against teams with a winning record. They seem to step their game up a bit when Dempster is on the mound, even though his recent run support seems to belie that notion. Even though he has yet to notch a victory personally this season, over the past 12 months, the Cubs have overachieved against good ballclubs when Dempster is on the hill.
I am a big fan of taking potentially dominant pitchers at plus-odds whenever I get the chance. Does it work every time? Of course not. The nice thing about +150 lines is you only have to be right 40% of the time to earn a profit. Tonight is a decent flyer to take, especially with the Cards coming off a rough series and the Cubs actually playing reasonably decent baseball over the last week. The 1.06 ERA without a win is a bizarre anomaly that will eventually balance out. I’m wagering it will be tonight. Give me the Cubs and the huge plus-money line.
Free Pick: Chicago Cubs +146