Back Cardinals Over Mets In Potential Wild-Card Game

St. Louis Cardinals

Thursday, August 25, 2016 1:35 PM GMT

If the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals play again in 2016 after Thursday night in the Gateway City, it will be in the National League playoffs. And that's quite possible. Today we preview this game for MLB picks.

What You Need To Know
It's the second straight Thursday road game I'm previewing for the Mets. I didn't like them last Thursday in San Francisco in what looked like a terrific pitching duel between New York ace Jacob deGrom and Giants No. 1 Madison Bumgarner. I was right on the Giants winning but dead wrong on the 'under' 6.5 total as somehow it was a 10-7 shootout. Baseball's a funny game at times.

New York has played this series without second baseman Neil Walker as he is on the paternity list and will be back for Friday's series opener at home against Philadelphia. Walker is having a fine season, batting .278 with 22 homers and 54 RBIs. He was basically stolen from Pittsburgh this offseason in a lopsided trade for pitcher Jon Niese, whom the Mets actually got back at the Aug. 1 deadline. Niese started Tuesday's series opener in St. Louis, a 7-4 Mets win, but left in the first inning with an injury and was placed on the DL.

Thursday's game is the conclusion of a 10-game road trip for New York. The Mets play their next 10 at home so it's a chance to make a move in the wild-card chase. The Giants led the NL wild-card standings as of this writing with the Cardinals holding the second spot. But the Marlins, Pirates and Mets are all within striking distance.

While the Mets haven't had third baseman David Wright or first baseman Lucas Duda for months and aren't expected to get either back this season, the Cardinals won't be feeling sorry for them. Currently on the DL for St. Louis is All-Star rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz (broken thumb), first baseman Matt Adams (shoulder), outfielder Matt Holliday (broken thumb), starting pitchers Michael Wacha (shoulder) and Lance Lynn (shoulder), and former closer Trevor Rosenthal (shoulder). Holliday could be done for the year after having surgery on his broken thumb. Lynn hasn't pitched in the majors this season off Tommy John surgery but is on a minor-league rehab and could be activated in mid-September.

By the way, don't leave your seat if the Cardinals use a pinch-hitter in this game. They have an incredible 14 pinch-hit homers on the season, tying the major-league record set by Arizona and San Francisco in 2001. Last year the Cards had 137 homers all season and they have already blown past that, lead the National League and are on pace for the second-most homers in franchise history. The record was 235 in 2000. Jim Edmonds led that team with 42 and Mark McGwire had 32. Nine players had at least 12 of them that year. This year's Cards also have nine players in double figures.

The Cardinals are +1600 on MLB odds to win the NL pennant and Mets are +3000.

Probable Pitchers
The Mets were to start lefty Steven Matz here, but he was put on the disabled list Monday with a mild shoulder strain and rotator-cuff inflammation. That sounds pretty serious but the team is hoping to activate him as soon as next week because of DL backdating. Matz certainly looked fine in his last outing on Aug. 14 as he took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning against the Padres. Matz is already pitching through a bone spur in his elbow that will require offseason surgery.

So getting the call Thursday will be 26-year-old rookie right-hander Seth Lugo (0-2, 3.04). He made his major-league debut on July 1 and had pitched nine games in relief. He made his first big-league start in place of a scratched Matz last Friday in San Francisco and allowed three runs and seven hits over 6.2 innings, so a quality start. But Lugo took the loss. He threw 47 of his 69 pitches for strikes. This will be Lugo's first look at the Cardinals.

St. Louis goes with No. 1 starter Adam Wainwright (9-7, 4.71), who hasn't pitched like an ace all that often in 2016. Wainwright is looking for his first win since July 16. He took a no-decision on Friday in Philadelphia, allowing three runs and five hits (two homers) over six innings. Wainwright is winless in his last six starts, going 0-2 with a 6.82 ERA over that stretch. But the Cards are 4-0 on MLB picks in Wainwright's past four on Thursday.

Wainwright took a no-decision on July 27 at the Mets, allowing four runs and a season-high-tying 11 hits over 6.2 innings. He gave up a two-run homer to Yoenis Cespedes on his final pitch. Cespedes is 3-for-12 career off him. Jay Bruce hits .293 off Wainwright with two homers, 10 RBIs and 14 strikeouts in 41 at-bats. James Loney really eats Wainwright alive, going 16-for-31 with five doubles and a homer.

Final Analysis
Cardinals and 'over.' St. Louis is 9-3 in Wainwright's past 12 vs. teams with a winning record. The 'over' is 6-2 in the Mets' past eight in Game 3 of a series. The 'over' is 5-1 in Wainwright's past six starts.

Free MLB Picks: Cardinals -160 & Over 8.5 +100
Best Line Offered: Cardinals -160 at BetCris & Over 8.5 +100 at Heritage​

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