Regional action from the Central Time Zone as the Chicago Cubs host the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals host the Milwaukee Brewers with games on MLB Network.

Matchup: Los Angeles Dodgers at Chicago Cubs

Date/Time: September 18, 8:05 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: LAD: Zack Greinke (15-8, 2.64) v. CHC: Tsuyoshi Wada (4-3, 3.34)

Moneyline: Los Angeles -160

Total: OFF

The Chicago Cubs are planning for the future and the future looks extremely bright. The Los Angeles Dodgers are focused on the present and their impending playoff run. The Dodgers open up a three-game set at Wrigley Field and they’ll be trying to put some distance between themselves and the San Francisco Giants before the Giants come to town beginning next Monday. The Cubs have struggled to score runs this month in spite of a lot of exciting, gifted prospects in the lineup and Thursday’s pitching matchup may extend those woes.

Zack Greinke will take the mound for the Dodgers. Greinke has been better this season than he was last season when he went 15-4. He’s 15-8 this year with an ERA that is 0.01 higher than last season, but his FIP is 24 points better as Greinke has increased his strikeout total and lowered his walk rate. On April 6, Greinke finished his second start of the season with a 3.27 ERA. Since then, Greinke has never left a start with an ERA above 2.90. That’s a dominant season and Greinke has a 2.47 ERA in 10 starts since the All-Star Break.

Tsuyoshi Wada was a savvy free agent pick-up by the Cubs. The 33-year-old Japanese lefty failed to crack Baltimore’s Major League pitching staff, so the Cubs took a chance. After posting a 10-6 record and a 2.77 ERA in Triple-A Iowa, Wada made his debut on July 8. Wada has a 3.34 ERA in 11 starts at the Major League level. The Cubs have never scored more than five runs in a game that Wada has pitched, but he is averaging just over five innings per start. He was 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA in his first eight starts, but he has a 5.93 ERA over his last three.

Greinke will be facing the Cubs for the seventh time in his career. In his previous six starts, Greinke is 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA. This will be his first start against the Cubs this season. The Dodgers are 16-13 in Greinke’s 29 starts for a loss of 1.68 units. Wada faced the Dodgers earlier this season and allowed two runs on six hits in 5.2 innings. The Cubs are 4-7 in Wada’s 11 starts for a loss of 2.94 units.

Free MLB Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers

As enticing as it is to back the Cubs with a big underdog price at home and the exciting bats in their lineup, it’s too hard to go against Greinke in a big start against an inferior opponent. Greinke has been great all season long and it won’t stop now against the Cubs. Look at the under in this game, however, as the Dodgers could struggle with an unfamiliar lefty.

Matchup: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals

Date/Time: September 17, 8:15 p.m. ET

TV: MLB Network

MLB Betting Odds From 5Dimes Sportsbook

Probable Starters: MIL: Kyle Lohse (12-9, 3.81) v. STL: Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.75)

Moneyline: St. Louis -140

Total: 7

The St. Louis Cardinals hope to get one step closer to clinching the NL Central Division title when they take on the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night. The Cardinals spent a lot of time chasing the Brewers this season, but they took over first place on September 1 and have not given it back. The Brewers are still in the playoff picture, but their sights are set on the NL’s second wild card spot. This is the last game against a team with a winning record for the Cardinals.

Kyle Lohse has been very good for the Brewers, but he has struggled towards the end of the season. From the start of the season through July, Lohse had an 11-5 record and a 3.07 ERA. Over his last seven starts, however, Lohse has a 6.88 ERA and is just 1-4 in that span. He has given up nine home runs over his last 35.1 innings of work. He pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in seven starts in his last outing and the Brewers are going to need a similar performance on Thursday.

Shelby Miller hit the All-Star Break at 7-8 with a 4.25 ERA. His strikeout rate was way down and there were a lot of concerns about what could be wrong with him. He had 16 days between starts because of the All-Star Break and made a relief appearance just to stay fresh. Since his July 26 start, Miller has a 3-1 record and a 2.87 ERA over 10 starts. The strikeout rate has not returned, but his command has been much better. He’s thrown five straight quality starts for the Cardinals.

Lohse will be facing the Cardinals for the 13th time in his career. He hasn’t had much success with a 3-7 record and a 5.12 ERA. This season, Lohse is 0-2 with a 9.64 ERA against the Cardinals. He’s allowed 17 runs, 15 earned, in 14 innings. The Brewers are 18-11 for a profit of 6.81 units in Lohse’s 29 starts.

Miller will be facing the Brewers for the eighth time. He’s a perfect 5-0 with a 2.30 ERA. This season, Miller is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts. The Cardinals are just 14-15 in Miller’s 29 starts for a loss of 3.67 units.

Free MLB Pick: St. Louis Cardinals

Kyle Lohse hasn’t had any success against the Cardinals this season and over the last couple of seasons and the Cardinals are definitely the better team right now. Shelby Miller seems to have found something that works for him and the right-hander is on a nice little roll.