CHICAGO CUBS (88-68)
at ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (81-75)
First pitch: Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Line: Chicago +100, St. Louis -110, Total: 8.0
The Cubs can clinch the NL Central with a victory over the Cardinals on Tuesday.
Chicago has had an up-and-down season, but that will all be forgotten if the team can punch a ticket to the postseason here. The Cubs still have one of the most dangerous lineups in the world and theyíll like their chances as much as anyone once the playoffs begin. As for the Cardinals, itís no longer looking like theyíll have much of a chance to extend their season. St. Louis really needed to sweep Chicago in this series in order to even have a shot, but the team was demolished in the series opener on Monday. The Cardinals will still be doing everything they can to win this one, but one could imagine that this team is rather demoralized. The starters in this Tuesday night meeting are going to be RHP Jake Arrieta (14-9, 3.43 ERA, 159 K) and RHP Carlos Martinez (12-11, 3.63 ERA, 211 K). Both guys are capable of shutting down their opponents, so this could be a nice pitcherís duel to watch. Itís worth noting that the Cubs are 95-45 against the money line over the past three seasons versus teams that average 0.5 or fewer stolen bases per game in the second half of the season.
Jake Arrieta has been pitching incredibly over the past few months, as the righty has allowed two or fewer earned runs in nine of his past 10 starts. Arrieta has hit his lumps this season, but he is hot at the right time. The Cubs will need him to perform like the ace he once was in the postseason, so itís good to have him confident at this point in the season. As for this meeting with St. Louis, you can count on him to be rock solid on Tuesday. Arrieta is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals this season, but you can look for him to be even better here. On offense, the one guy to look out for in this Chicago lineup is 1B Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo has been great against Martinez in his career, going 9-for-34 with a double, a triple, three homers and eight RBI against the righty. He could very well go yard here as well. OF Jason Heyward could also come through for the Cubs in this one. Heyward is 8-for-26 with a double and two RBI against Martinez. It would really help Chicago if he were to produce in this one.
Carlos Martinez has really developed into an excellent pitcher for the Cardinals, but the righty has not been his best lately. Over his past two starts, Martinez pitched just 11.2 innings and gave up a total of 11 earned runs. The team will need him to settle in here and give them a quality start at the very least. It wonít help his confidence that his most recent start against the Cubs was two starts ago, when he allowed seven earned runs in 5.1 innings of work. Martinez must shake that game and find a way to come through at home. As for the Cardinalsí offense, OF Randal Grichuk is a guy that St. Louis can expect to perform at a high level here. Grichuk has been incredible against Arrieta in his career, going 7-for-20 with three doubles, one triple, two homers and four RBI against the righty. It would not be surprising if he were to go yard here. OF Dexter Fowler could also provide a spark against his former team, as he is 4-for-6 with a double and an RBI against Arrieta lifetime.