Cubs vs. Cardinals Odds, Preview, Prediction: How to Bet NL Central Rivalry (Wednesday, July 21)

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Wainwright.

Cubs vs. Cardinals Odds

Cubs Odds +100
Cardinals Odds -130
Over/Under 8 (-105 / -115)
Time 8:15 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Wednesday and via DraftKings.

Even with three wins in five games — one against St. Louis and two against Arizona — the Cubs continue to slump at the plate. Waiting for them on Tuesday will be an old foe in Adam Wainwright who has awakened his strikeout stuff in 2021 and profiles as a dangerous opponent for the Cubs’ whiff machines.

Can Kyle Hendricks keep things going in the right direction for the Cubs, or is it time once again to fade Chicago in what’s nearly a pick ’em? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

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Is Kyle Hendricks Any Good?

It’s another Kyle Hendricks day for the Chicago Cubs, which means it’s time for us to get all confused again as to whether or not Hendricks is any good. He used to be good, but then this season got off to a nightmare start. He’s recovered a bit since then, but there are still plenty of signs that another clunker is right around the corner.

Hendricks has allowed 18 hits over his last three outings — spanning 18 1/3 innings — with just 10 strikeouts. Most concerning, though, is the fact that his bout with walks seemed to resurface with three free passes against the Diamondbacks of all teams. Hendricks has undeniably allowed a ton of traffic on the basepaths all year long, even in his “good” starts.

Chicago has remained pretty brutal offensively with an 84 wRC+ over the last two weeks and just a .234 average. The Cubs have struck out too much at 24.4% and have ranked third-to-last in contact rate at 72.8%. It’s the same old story for this team after a brief hot streak in the first half: too many swings and misses, too many bad at-bats.

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Wainwright is Turning Back the Clock

If you want to talk about confusion, it doesn’t get weirder than 39-year-old Adam Wainwright turning back the clock to put together a great season for the Cardinals. Wednesday’s starter has been much more than St. Louis could have ever asked for, eating innings, limiting walks and quality contact and flashing some of his vintage strikeout stuff.

Wainwright is obviously no stranger to the Cubs, but this year’s outing against St. Louis’ NL Central foe was perhaps his best start of the season. He went eight scoreless innings, allowing just a hit and a walk with seven strikeouts. His improved strikeout numbers (22.9 K% is his highest since 2013) make him a formidable opponent against a whiff-happy team like the Cubs, as does his 7.8% swinging strike rate.

The Cardinals are the anti-Cubs at the plate. They’ve ranked second in contact rate over the last two weeks at 80%, with just about an average number of ground balls (43.5%) and a decent 37% hard-hit rate. It hasn’t exactly been a torrid run at the plate, but it hasn’t been bad, either.

Cubs-Cardinals Pick

Though the Cardinals lineup profiles as an average offense of late, the Cubs’ is once again a very below-average one. Wainwright’s proven very capable in the strikeout department this year, especially against Chicago, and I don’t see any reason why he can’t miss a ton of bats on Tuesday.

St. Louis doesn’t make as much quality contact as I’d like here against a soft-contact inducer like Hendricks, but he’s also been very disappointing in executing his gameplan this year. It’s also not like the Cardinals are failing to get the ball in the air with that modest ground ball lately, and they profile as a team that can exploit Hendricks’ weaknesses.

There will be moments to back the slumping Cubs, but I don’t see this as one of them. Hendricks is bringing in issues with base hits against a high-contact team, and with a few big boppers in this St. Louis lineup, which is getting hot, this could be bad news.

Pick: Cardinals ML (-130)

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