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St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Betting Preview

The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will meet Saturday night for the second game of a three-game Route 66 rivalry set. For the Cardinals, Kwang Hyun Kim will get the nod (3-5, 3.39 ERA) against Zach Davies (5-5, 4.58 ERA) for the Cubs.

The Cubs took the series opener on Friday, winning 10-5, behind Kyle Hendricks’ solid 6.1 IP and a five-run seventh inning. On Saturday, though, expect the Cardinals to bounce back and even up the series.

My Pick: Cardinals +103

Fading Zach Davies

The angle for me in this game will be the starting pitching, and most notably a fade of Zach Davies. About a month ago, on June 13th, Davies actually had some good results against the Cardinals. He went 6.2 innings allowing no runs and striking out 6 in a win for the Cubs. In that start, though, he benefitted from a .133 BABIP and had an xFIP of 3.60. He also surrendered an average exit velocity of 91 MPH on balls in play, so it’s not like he was drawing soft contact throughout.

Davies, outside of the nice results in that start, is having a bad season. In 88.1 IP he holds one of the league’s worst xERA (5.98) and one of the league’s worst K% (14.6), xwOBA (.374) and xBA (.291). He also sports a 5.36 xFIP and 5.71 SIERA. Any way you spin it, Zach Davies is still due for a negative regression. Davies also likes to throw a Changeup about 33% of the time, and the Cardinals are the 8th best team in MLB against the pitch.

Kim remains reliable

Going up against him will be Cardinals’ Left-Hander Kwang Hyun Kim, who is having himself a solid season. In 66.1 IP, Kim sports a 3.39 ERA (4.15 xERA). He is not going to blow away hitters, as his K% sits at 18.3, but he excels at drawing soft contact. He’s in the 70th percentile in both Hard Hit Rate and Average Exit Velocity.

While the Cubs hit lefties well, they struggle against both Fastballs (2.6 Run Value) and Sliders (-14.4 Run Value). Both of which land the Cubs as the 18th best team in MLB on those pitches. Kim, conveniently enough, employs a fastball slider mix.

Final thoughts

There’s also a familiarity factor in this one. The Cardinals, as we know, have already seen Davies once this year. On the flip side, this will be the first time the Cubs have faced Kim in 2021. With Davies not being a high strikeout pitcher, and the Cardinals seeing a similar opponent in Hendricks yesterday, I think the Red Birds will be ready to attack tonight.

Additionally, for what emotion is worth, the Cardinals put up a fight at the end of Yesterday’s game despite a 8 run deficit in the top of the 9th, as they scored three runs in the frame. I expect that momentum to carry over into today’s game and the Cardinals to come away with a win. Worth keeping in mind that the Cubs have also made it known that they will be active sellers at the deadline, and have effectively punted on the season after their recent collapse.

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