Fernandez Home Record Makes Bet On Marlins A No Brainer Over Cardinals

Jose Fernandez

Thursday, July 28, 2016 1:51 PM GMT

It's a potential wild-card game preview on Thursday night to open a four-game series as the Cardinals and Marlins who are -185 on MLB odds behind ace Jose Fernandez.

St. Louis Cardinals vs Miami Marlins

What You Need To Know
It's pretty evident that the Marlins aren't likely to win the NL East -- that should go to the Washington Nationals. And it's quite clear that the Cardinals won't win the NL Central for the fourth year in a row as the first-place Chicago Cubs have the best record in the National League. So the only route to the postseason for these two clubs is likely that one-game playoff. But they also are competing with the Los Angeles Dodgers (currently holding the first wild-card spot), New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates to get into that game.

I do expect both the Marlins and Cardinals to make a trade before the Aug. 1 deadline. Miami already has acquired closer Fernando Rodney from the Padres, but the Marlins definitely need another starting pitcher. The Miami lineup will get a huge boost in this game: the return of second baseman Dee Gordon from his 80-game PED suspension. Gordon led the NL in hitting and stolen bases last year, but maybe that was because he was juicing. This year, he was hitting just .266 with five RBIs, a lousy .289 on-base percentage, and six steals in 21 games. Gordon has been playing at Triple-A New Orleans over the past week. He will return to hitting leadoff for Miami. Gordon wasn't paid during the suspension, losing about $1.65 million in salary.

"He could be even more of a lightning rod for us," Manager Don Mattingly said to the Marlins' team site. "Our issue isn't getting on base, it's scoring runs."

One thing to consider: Gordon is not eligible to play in the postseason. That's part of any PED suspension punishment. We could see history at some point in this series as Miami's Ichiro Suzuki is on the verge of his historic 3,000th career hit. The problem with Ichiro is you don't know when he will play because he's not a regular.

St. Louis, meanwhile, has three regulars on the disabled list currently: second baseman and All-Star Matt Carpenter, first baseman/outfielder Brandon Moss and third baseman Jhonny Peralta. All three could return Aug. 2. Reliever Trevor Rosenthal, who had been demoted from the closer's role, joined them on the DL this week.

The Marlins won two of three in St. Louis right out of the All-Star break. But the Cardinals are 4-0 in the past four meetings in Miami. The 'under' is 3-1-1 in MLB odds in those five. As of Wednesday, the Cards are 51-44-5 O/U this season and the Marlins 50-48-2.

Probable Pitchers
Right-hander Michael Wacha (5-7, 4.37) takes the mound for the Cardinals. Last time out, Wacha allowed 10 hits but only two runs in six innings of a no-decision against the Dodgers. The hits allowed were Wacha's most since his season debut on April 5. Wacha hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in eight straight outings. But the Cards are 3-7 on MLB odds in Wacha's past 10 vs. teams with a winning record.

Wacha also took a no-decision on July 17 vs. the Marlins, allowing three runs and seven hits over four innings. It was his shortest outing since May 24. Miami's Martin Prado is 3-for-8 career off him with a double. Ichiro is 1-for-4 off him. Christian Yelich is 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

There's no such thing as a lock in baseball, but Fernandez pitching at home is one. He is an obscene 26-1 with a 1.47 ERA lifetime at Marlins Park. Fernandez (12-4, 2.54) comes off a home win over the Mets, allowing two runs and seven hits over seven innings with seven strikeouts -- he's second in the NL with 175 strikeouts. The 12 wins already matches Fernandez's career high. He might win this year's Cy Young Award to go with his 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award. The Marlins are 21-5 on MLB picks in Fernandez's past 26 vs. teams with a winning record.

Fernandez didn't face the Cardinals in the first series. He has seen them twice in his career and is 1-1 with a 3.46 ERA. Jedd Gyorko doesn't play all the time for the Cards but might go here as he's 2-for-6 career off Fernandez with two homers and six RBIs. Matt Holliday is 1-for-5 with a solo homer. Yadier Molina is 1-for-3 with an RBI.

The Cards are 0-5 in Wacha's past five vs. the NL East. The Marlins are 17-5 in Fernandez's past 22 series openers. The 'under' is 9-2-1 in the Cardinals' past 12 series openers. The 'under' is 8-2 in Fernandez's past 10 at home.

Free MLB Picks: Under 7 -115
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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