The St. Louis Cardinals (31-45) face a tough test against Marcus Stroman at London Stadium on Sunday when the impressive right-hander takes the mound for the Chicago Cubs (37-38) with the visitors looking for a sweep of the two-game series.
The Cubs took Saturday’s series opener 9-1, their fourth straight victory overall and second in four games against the Cardinals this season. Starter Justin Steele went six innings, giving up one run on five hits and striking out eight, to get the win.
Dansby Swanson was 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs, and two RBIs in the win, stretching his on-base streak to 10 games. Ian Happ added two solo home runs. Paul Goldschmidt went 1 for 3 with one RBI for the Cardinals.
ON THE MOUND
Stroman (9-4, 2.28 ERA) is in line to take the mound for Chicago. The RHP leads the NL in ERA and is tied for first in wins. Stroman threw seven scoreless innings in his last start, a 4-0 road win over the Pirates on Tuesday.
He was credited with the win, yielding five hits while striking out five and walking one. Stroman has made one previous start against the Cardinals this season, a 3-1 home loss on May 8.
He surrendered two runs on four hits over six innings, striking out six and walking one. For St. Louis, southpaw Matthew Liberatore (1-2, 6.12 ERA) gets the start.
It’s his first appearance of the season against the Cubs. Liberatore made two appearances against the Cubs in 2022, including one start, striking out four and walking three over six innings (0-1, 9.00).
In his last start on June 18, Liberatore took a no-decision on the road against the Mets. He threw four innings and gave up five runs on four hits, striking out two and walking two in the 8-7 victory.
AT THE PLATE
Over the last five games, Chicago has averaged 6.4 runs a game, up from their season average of 4.6, thanks in part to increased slugging (.462 vs .399). Against left-handed pitchers like Liberatore this season, the Cubs have a .779 OPS, fifth highest in the league.
Cody Bellinger is the team’s best hitter against left-handers with a .998 OPS in 54 at-bats. St. Louis is averaging 5.2 runs per game in the last five, up slightly from 4.6 for the season.
The Cards have a .752 OPS against right-handers in 2023. With a .910 OPS over 216 at-bats, Goldschmidt has been their best hitter against right-handers.
HOME AND AWAY
Chicago is on a four-game winning streak on the road, bringing their record to 17-21 in 2023. The Cubs have scored 4.4 runs per game away from home while allowing 4.2 runs.
St. Louis has lost six in a row as the home team. The Cards are 13-22 at home this season, averaging 5.1 runs per game while surrendering 5.4.
The Cubs are third in the NL Central, four games behind the division-leading Reds. The Cardinals are fifth in the NL Central, nine games behind the Reds.
SportsTips’ MLB Pick:
Chicago Cubs (-160)
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*Odds correct at time of publication, courtesy of BetMGM.