St. Louis is 6-1 in Jake Westbrook’s last seven starts vs. the NL East.
The St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets will close out a three-game National League series Thursday afternoon, with the first pitch scheduled to be thrown at 1:45 (ET) at Busch Stadium.
Manager Tony LaRussa is running out of time to guide his team to a spot in the playoffs, trailing the Atlanta Braves by 2 ½ games in the NL Wild Card race, while sitting 5 ½ back of the Milwaukee Brewers in the division.
St. Louis has won 11 of its last 13 games, including an 11-6 victory in the series opener, coming back from an early four-run deficit. First baseman Albert Pujols led the charge offensively, going 4-for-5 on the night and is now batting a season-best .304.
The perennial All-Star is aiming to extend his MLB record of batting .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBI for an 11th consecutive season. He needs to maintain his current average while driving in three more runs.
Jake Westbrook (12-9, 4.58 ERA) is scheduled to make his 32nd start of the season, coming in off a 9-2 road loss to the Phillies in his last outing. He allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits over 3 1/3 innings in that particular effort.
The right-hander will be aiming to even up his home record, entering with a 4-5 record and 5.59 ERA in 15 tries, issuing 34 free passes and registering 54 strikeouts in 85 1/3 frames.
Westbrook will be making just his third career start versus the Mets, posting a 1-1 mark and 4.20 ERA, tallying a 6-2 road win in his last try on July 21 (8 IP, 2 ER). Bettors will find that the Cardinals are 6-1 in his last seven starts against NL East opponents, while the ‘over’ is 4-1 in his last five outings overall.
New York jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the top of the third inning in the series opener, but was outscored by an 11-2 margin the rest of the way. The Mets are 8-12 during the month thus far and 28-47 in September the last two-plus campaigns.
Chris Capuano (11-12, 4.47 ERA) will look to win a second consecutive start for the first time since June 29, coming in off a 12-2 road win over the Atlanta Braves, allowing two runs and six hits over five innings. The left-hander has compiled an even 7-7 mark and 5.29 ERA in 16 road appearances (14 starts), as opponents are hitting .286 against him.
He has yet to face the Cardinals this year, but comes in with a 5-5 record and 5.18 ERA, including an 0-3 mark and 6.87 ERA in four lifetime appearances (three starts) at Busch Stadium. Capuano will not be comfortable in facing Pujols, who is hitting .567 against him with four home runs and 11 RBIs in 30 career at bats.
Home plate umpire Jim Reynolds is likely going to draw some attention for total bettors, as the ‘over’ is 17-3-2 in his last 22 games involving St. Louis.
Weather forecasts suggest a 30 percent chance of showers with game-time temperatures in the mid-60s. A slight breeze of 5-10 mph will be blowing from the southwest (out to center).