The Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals begin a three-game series at Busch Stadium on Friday night.
The Cubs trail the Cardinals by three games for first place in the NL Central and MLB betting lines opened with them as slim -120 road favorites for today's contest.
Here are our best free Cubs vs. Cardinals picks and predictions for Friday, May 21, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.
Cubs vs Cardinals game info
• Location: Busch Stadium, St. Louis, MO
• Date: Friday, May 21, 2021
• Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
• TV: BSMW, Marquee Sports Network
Cubs vs Cardinals odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
Compare MLB odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.
MLB Sharp Money and Line Movement ReportBy Patrick Everson
Chicago hit DraftKings' odds board as a modest -114 favorite, stretched to -127, then receded to -117, where the moneyline rests at 6:15 p.m. ET. St. Louis is taking 55 percent of bets and 66 percent of money. The total moved from 8 flat (-110) to 8.5 (Over -112), with 66 percent of money and 93 percent of cash on the Over.Check out the full line movement for this game
Cubs vs Cardinals betting preview
Kyle Hendricks (3-4 5.27 ERA): Hendricks is typically one of the Cubs' most reliable pitchers but has been up-and-down this season. The veteran is coming off a strong performance against the Tigers where he pitched eight innings of one-run ball.
However, he's been roughed up in four of eight starts this season, including a pair of ugly starts against the lowest-scoring team in the majors the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Carlos Martinez (3-4, 4.35 ERA): Martinez is coming off the IL for this game and hasn't started since May 8, when he was shelled for five runs in five innings against the Rockies.
The 29-year-old strung together several strong years as a starter with St. Louis before being moved to the bullpen midway through the 2018 season.
He returned to the rotation last year but struggled with an oblique strain and a bout with COVID-19, finishing with a 9.90 ERA in just 20 innings pitched.
Be sure to monitor the gametime conditions with our MLB weather info.
Cubs: Jason Heyward RF (Out), Jake Marisnick CF (Out).
Cardinals: Tyler O'Neill RF (Out), Paul DeJong SS (Out).
Find our latest MLB injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Over is 7-1-1 in Cardinals' last nine games following an off day. Find more MLB betting trends for Cubs vs. Cardinals.
The Cubs are coming off a 5-2 win against the Nationals and have now won four of their last five games to jump into second place in the NL Central. They still trail their hated rivals the Cardinals, who are fresh off back-to-back wins over the Pirates and are 13-6 in their last 19 games overall.
The Cubs have been the slightly more productive team at the plate, ranking eighth in the majors with an OPS of .731 while the Cards rank 14th with an OPS of .709.
Cards starter Carlos Martinez was very effective as a starter earlier in his career but has been very shaky lately. And he has typically struggled against the Cubs, pitching to an ERA of 4.69 with a WHIP of 1.46 in 111 1-3 career innings against Chicago.
Kyle Hendricks has been a tad inconsistent this season as well, but he has a strong track record in his career. He's been especially good in St. Louis where he has gone 4-1 with a 2.92 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in eight career starts.
The Cubbies also have the edge in the bullpen, with their relievers fourth in the majors in both ERA (3.16) and opponent batting average (.208). Chicago may be struggling on the road but they have all the tools to win this game tonight.
PREDICTION: ML Chicago Cubs (-125)
The Cubs have been hitting well all season and have been especially productive over the last 30 days, ranking fourth in the majors with an OPS of .774 while plating 5.33 runs per game.
That's bad news for Martinez who has been finding the strike zone this season but hasn't been making batters miss, ranking among the bottom five percent of all starting pitchers in strikeout percentage and whiff rate.
Martinez and Hendricks have some ugly numbers this season and their advanced stats suggest that they aren't likely to improve them. They both lag near the bottom of the majors when it comes to xERA and expected slugging percentage.
With how poorly both starting pitchers have been playing lately it's tough to trust either of them to have a strong showing. And with the Over/Under opening at 8.5 we might need both of them to play well in order to cash this Under.
PREDICTION: Over 8.5 (-105)
Cubs vs Cardinals betting card
- ML Chicago Cubs (-125)
- Over 8.5 (-105)
Picks made on 5/21/2021 at 10:00 a.m. ET
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