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Cardinals vs. Cubs Betting Pick / Preview (July. 25)

Sunday Night Baseball Pick: St. Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs

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It pays to play baseball in a big market. For the second straight Sunday, the irrelevant-in-the-standings Chicago Cubs land a night game on ESPN. At least we can watch them battle their fierce rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. And at least we get another look at Lou Piniella before he rides off into the sunset.

Let’s make a pick.

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Sunday, July 25, 8:05 p.m. ET

St. Louis Cardinals (54-42, 1st place in NL Central)
Chicago Cubs (43-53, 4th place in NL Central)

Even as the home team, the Chicago Cubs face an uphill battle with St. Louis sending Chris Carpenter to the hill. The Cubs’ listed probable starter is Carlos Silva but they’ve pushed him back a day according to a report published Thursday. That means Ryan Dempster will get the nod on Sunday night.

Chris Carpenter (11-3, 3.05)
Ryan Dempster (8-7, 3.70)

Barring a late-season injury, Chris Carpenter is about to show us for the second straight season that his health woes are behind him. Over his last two seasons, he’s 28-7 over 49 starts. His 2010 hasn’t been quite as good as his stellar 2009, but he’s been pretty outstanding nonetheless. Carpenter is 2-0 with a 1.13 ERA in his two starts since the All-Star Break.

Those two outings are very encouraging considering that Carpenter has shown a few concerning trends this season. In 192.2 innings last year, he allowed just seven homers and walked 38 batters. In 141.2 innings so far this year, he’s allowed 15 homers and walked 39 batters already.

On one hand, the Cubs can be optimistic because the dog days are Carpenter’s worst months. He has higher ERAs in July (4.05) and August (4.11) than in any other months over the course of his career. However, Carpenter pummels the Cubs historically. He’s 10-3 with a 2.73 ERA in 16 career starts against them.

For the third straight season, Ryan Dempster has proven he’s the real deal as a major-league starter. He’s whiffed almost a batter per inning in 2010 and won eight games for a struggling team. But Dempster may be tiring. His ERA is well over 4.00 this month. And he has trouble with a few specific Cardinals hitters – big trouble.

Albert Pujols has taken Dempster deep four times and driven in 10 runs with a .310 average in just 42 lifetime at-bats against him. Matt Holliday bats .500 off Dempster in 12 at-bats.

That said, some of the Cubbies have Carpenter’s number, especially Alfonso Soriano (.333, two homers, seven RBI in 36 at-bats). He’ll also have to contend with the hottest hitter in the game: Aramis Ramirez.

How good as A-Ram been? It’s not just his three-homer, seven-RBI game this week. In the month of July, he’s batting .369 with nine homers and 24 RBI in 16 games.

With both teams swinging the bats well of late and scorching temperatures everywhere you look across North America this summer, maybe we’ll see an unexpected barn burner on Sunday night. I actually like the Cubs to pull off the minor upset on the strength of Ramirez and the fact that Carpenter is due for an off night.

Gambling Trends:

Chicago Cubs are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games
Chicago Cubs are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games at home
Chicago Cubs are 4-2 SU in their last 6 games when playing St. Louis
St. Louis is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games
St. Louis is 2-4 SU in their last 6 games when playing Chicago Cubs
St. Louis is 2-7 SU in its last 9 games on the road

Sunday Night Baseball FREE PICK for St. Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs

Pick: Chicago Cubs

ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Prediction (Shea Matthews’ record: 8-6)

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