Baseball fanatics and analysts alike picked the Cubs as the World Series favorites heading into the 2016 MLB season, and they haven’t been disappointed so far. Chicago’s 69-41 record is the best in the entire league, and they've been simply dominant in every facet of the game. Even with the loss of star outfielder Kyle Schwarber, Cubs position players like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, and Ben Zobrist have stepped up to lead the offense. Not only that, but Jake Arrieta has finally found some support in the rest of the rotation from guys like Kyle Hendricks and Jon Lester. The Cubbies are 4-5 when facing St. Louis this year, but they've won two of three series against the Cardinals. However, both of those series were on the road, and Chicago is 0-3 against the Cards at home this season.
Though the Cardinals haven’t been as dangerous as in previous seasons, they're still no pushovers. So far, the one mark against them has been their atrocious play at home, where they currently hold a disappointing 26-32 record. That shouldn't be an issue in this series though, and their 3-0 record at Wrigley Field in 2016 bodes well heading into Friday’s game. Even with the numerous injuries to important Cardinals like Aledmys Diaz, Matt Carpenter, and Trevor Rosenthal, St. Louis’ bench has once again been arguably the best in the major leagues. Thanks to a resurgent Adam Wainwright who has come back from ACL surgery and the addition of Mike Leake to their rotation, the Cards have one of the most potent pitching staffs out there.
Jake Arrieta, the NL’s Cy Young winner last year and one of the most feared pitchers in the league, will take the mound for the Cubs on Friday. Through his first 22 starts this year, Arrieta can boast of a 2.59 ERA, 13-5 record, and 143 strikeouts. However, his recent struggles don’t reflect those stellar numbers whatsoever. Arrieta is 1-3 in his last six starts, giving up four or more runs in four of them. Two of those starts were losses at home, though an argument could be made that all six were against some of the best teams in the MLB. Regardless, Arrieta bounced back in a big way when he earned victory in Oakland on August 6th. Hopefully this win will get him back to his old form.
For St. Louis, it will be Adam Wainwright manning the hill on Friday. Since undergoing ACL surgery last season, Wainwright has accumulated a 9-6 record and a 4.34 ERA this year. He’s 4-3 in 11 road starts in 2016, including a victory at Wrigley Field in which he went six and two-thirds innings while only allowing three runs on six hits. Though his .306 batting average could hurt him in the future, Wainwright has been comfortable pitching at Wrigley, to say the least.
- Sports.net’s top tip: You should expect this to be a close, low-scoring game with aces like Arrieta and Wainwright pitching. However, don’t expect the Cardinals to continue beating the Cubs on the road. Bet on Chicago to win 4-2.