Cubs vs. Cardinals MLB Best Bets for Thursday

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Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a two-run home run against the Chicago Cubs. Joe Puetz/Getty Images/AFP

The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals will finish their three-game series with a split doubleheader on Thursday. The two NL Central rivals will make up Wednesday’s rained-out game with an afternoon contest at Busch Stadium, then play the regularly scheduled series finale that evening.

Chicago Cubs vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Thursday, August 04, 2022 – 01:15 PM EDT at Busch Stadium

Thursday, August 04, 2022 - 07:45 PM EDT at Busch Stadium

The Cards won the opener on Tuesday, their fourth win in five games, while the Cubs dropped their third straight and fourth of five.

St. Louis is pushing to catch Milwaukee in the Central. The Cardinals will open play a game and a half out of the division lead and just a half-game out of the Wild Card.

They have the largest run differential in the division and fourth best in the National League. The Cardinals were rumored to be a part of several major deals at Tuesday’s trade deadline, including negotiating for superstar Juan Soto but settled for adding a pair of starting pitchers.

The Cubs, meanwhile, are playing to stay out of last place. Chicago will open play percentage points behind the Reds and Pirates in the Central basement. The Cubs were sellers at the deadline, but the price was too high for their top talent. Chicago made a few minor deals, including sending off reliever David Robertson, but the much-anticipated deals for outfielder Ian Happ and catcher Willson Contreras did not take place.

Cubs' Bullpen Moves

In addition to Robertson, the Cubs dealt relievers Scott Effross and Mychal Givens, sending the trio to the Phillies, Yankees, and Mets respectively and revamping their bullpen.

Lefthander Steven Brault was also placed on the COVID injured list, further depleting the pen ahead of the doubleheader, which will further test the relief corps.

The Additions and Starters

Chicago called up Michael Rucker and Anderson Espinoza from Triple-A to fill some of the holes in the pen. Rucker was 1-0 with a 1.47 ERA for Iowa in 10 games. He’s also appeared in 16 for the Cubs this season. Espinoza was 1-5 combined at Double-A and Triple-A, with an ERA over 7.

Despite the bullpen turmoil, the lack of any major contributors to the starting lineup getting dealt has the team breathing a sigh of relief. “There was a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Contreras said. “Today was a long day. I was really anxious to see what was going to happen.”

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“I’m happy to still be here,” said Happ. “Crazy couple of weeks. Emotional days at Wrigley, emotional days here.”

The Cubs also get back second baseman Nick Madrigal, who returned from the injured list and was in the starting lineup before the rains came on Wednesday.

The Cubs will start Marcus Stroman in one of the games, most likely the afternoon opener. He is 3-5 with a 3.99 ERA this season. Justin Steele, scheduled to start on Wednesday, is the other likely starter, although the team has not released specifics as of Thursday morning. Steele is 4-7 with a 3.86 ERA.

Arrivals for the Cardinals

The Cardinals didn’t get Soto, reportedly because they refused to part with promising outfielder Dylan Carlson. He then became the starting centerfielder when the Cardinals dealt away Harrison Bader to the Yankees.

He’ll take the job with a weight off of his shoulders as well, as the team’s front office expressed confidence in him. “We could have had one of the best players on the planet if we wanted to get rid of them at the trade deadline,” veteran Adam Wainwright said. “And we didn’t want to. We believe in these guys.”

The Cardinals had a big addition on trade deadline day when catcher Yadiel Molina returned from the injured list. He hadn’t played since June 16 after battling knee inflammation.

One of the Cardinals’ deadline pickups will be unveiled on Thursday night as Jose Quintana gets the ball. He was 3-5 with a 3.50 ERA for the Pirates. Miles Mikolas, 8-8, 2.86, starts the opening game.

Our Betting Picks

The Cubs have gone through weeks of speculation on who will leave, and Contreras and Happ both had emotional goodbyes to Chicago fans in what they thought was their final home games last week.

Now, they’ll be playing loose and free and should be able to get the win with Stroman on the mound in the opener. Look for the Cardinals to split the twin bill in the nightcap.

Game One Pick

MLB Pick: Cubs ML (+138) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Cubs ML (+138)
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Game Two Pick

MLB Pick: Cardinals ML (-139) at BetOnline

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Cardinals ML (-139)
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