The St. Louis Cardinals hold down the lead in the National League Central division standings with just seven days left in baseball's regular season, but to stay in that spot they'll have to take care of business against both the Nationals and Cubs this week.
While the rest of baseball's division leaders cruise to their titles this month, the Cardinals have to contend with not one but two challengers for the NL Central crown - the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.
That means the Cards can't sleepwalk through their two home series against the Nationals and the Cubs in the week ahead and the MLB moneylines should reflect the seriousness of the situation.
The Cardinals met three times in Washington back in April, with St. Louis winning all three of those contests for their supporters on the MLB betting lines at most sportsbooks by a combined score of 9-4 - resulting in all three matchups turning out to be UNDER results. Overall the Cards are 6-4 in their past 10 games against the Nats, with the OVER/UNDER 6-4.
St. Louis and Chicago have already met 16 times this season, with the Cardinals going 9-7 in those contests. The NL Central clubs last played in mid-August at Wrigley Field, with the Cardinals winning two of the three games in that road series. With just 18 runs scored in that series the three games all turned out to be UNDER results on the totals.
The Pirates and Reds, who just met in Pittsburgh this past weekend, will play again starting Friday night in Cincinnati in a series that could at the very least determine which team gets to play at home in the NL Wild Card play-in game.
The Reds have the edge at 7-3 in their past 10 games at home against the Pirates dating back to last season, while the OVER/UNDER went 2-7-1 for totals bettors over those 10 contests.
Pittsburgh is at Chicago early this week, while the Reds are at home to face the Mets.
Other early-week matchups around the NL include Milwaukee at Atlanta, Philadelphia at Miami, Arizona at San Diego, and the Dodgers at San Francisco, with Los Angeles the runaway winner of the NL West title and the favorite on the World Series odds at the sportsbooks. On the weekend it's also Milwaukee at the Mets, Philadelphia at Atlanta, Washington at Arizona, San Diego at San Fran, and Colorado at the Dodgers.
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