Angry (Red) Birds Will Take Series Opener Over Cincinnati

Doug Upstone

Friday, April 7, 2017 3:37 PM UTC

Friday, Apr. 7, 2017 3:37 PM UTC

It's only three games into the season, but chances are if you are betting baseball this will be the only time this season Cincinnati will be ahead of St. Louis in the standings in the NL Central Division.

MLB Season Record: 2-2 (-0.25 Units)

These division rivals open a three-game series on the shores of the Mississippi River, and no question the much better Cardinals are looking for the sweep, while the rebuilding Reds would love to open the season with two series victories.


Pitching Matchup: Garrett Vs. Leake

If you have never heard of Cincinnati's Amir Garrett, you are not alone. The former four-star basketball player turned pitcher is 6-foot-5 and around 230 pounds and has a fastball that reaches 97 mph and a slider that looks great when thrown properly. That is the rub on the big left-hander: being able to repeat his delivery time after time. When he's in a groove, he looks like a major-league pitcher, but when he's like Ubaldo Jimenez (no two deliveries exactly alike), trouble soon follows.

There are worse things to be than the Cardinals' Mike Leake if you had the ability to be a major-league pitcher. Leake has a 73-64 lifetime record with a 3.99 ERA and does not have overwhelming stuff. What the right-hander does is rely on keeping the ball low, inducing ground balls and keeping walks to a minimum. Almost any team would like a pitcher in the middle its rotation with Leake's skill set. The problem for him is pitching for St. Louis, whose infield defensive is considered below average. That reduces Leake's effectiveness.


While At The Plate ...

In the Cards' opening series with the Cubs, the Redbirds hitters were generally more patient than in 2016. This will be important against Garrett, who is making his big-league debut. Make the lefty throw strikes, and if he gets behind in the count either be ready to swing or try to take a walk. The Cardinals' offense should have many more chances for success this weekend.

It is a given Leake will be a around the plate, thus Cincy batters have to be ready at dish. What they cannot do is try and pull pitches, because that is when the weak grounders and lazy fly-balls start piling up. Leake has never beaten his original team in four tries (0-2, 7.25 ERA) and might press again, which could help the Reds.


Betting Odds, History & Bullpen Numbers

The MLB odds show St. Louis as -165 favorite with the total at 8. The Cardinals have had their way with Cincinnati at Busch Stadium of late with a 13-6 record in the past 19. To this point, the two bullpens could hardly be more different with the Reds having 0.73 ERA and the Cards at a ghastly 6.75 ERA.


The Winner Is ...

From a technical handicapping perspective, I could come up with all sorts of reasons to consider Cincinnati for MLB picks, because Leake and St. Louis have a number of negative ones. However, look for the Cardinals to want to put disappoint of losing the Cubs series behind them, and check out this system: Underdogs with a money line of +125 to +175 like the Reds, who were outscored by opponents by 0.5 or more runs a game last season and who allowed four runs or less in three straight games are 9-46 in the next outing.

Free MLB Pick: Cardinals -165Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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