Betting on the Mets Would Be a Cardinal Sin Wednesday

Rainman M.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018 11:36 AM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2018 11:36 AM UTC

St. Louis hosts the Mets on Wednesday at 8:15 ET. The Cardinals are heavy chalk, but can they beat a team that isn't the Cincinnati Reds?

New York Mets (15-6) at St. Louis Cardinals (13-9)Free MLB Pick: Cardinals RLBest Line Offered: BetPhoenix

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The Cards are in a strong bounce-back situation tonight: their run-line record is 3-0 after a one-run loss.

Michael Wacha (3-1 4.22 ERA) is also in a bounce-back scenario. He struggled in his first outing against the Mets, which was his first game this season. MLB bettors should view that performance as anomalous. Wacha struggled with his velocity. His fastball, for example, averaged 93 mph. When Wacha owned the Mets in a complete-game shutout last year, his fastball averaged 96 mph. Recently, his velocity has been heading in the right direction. In his last game, all of his pitches improved by about two mph. Power is an important element for Wacha and an effective one against the Mets, who hit .215 last year, and .204 so far this year, against power pitchers. Wacha's career history against NYM, foremost because of his power, is also very strong. In 109 at-bats, active NYM batters are hitting .149 with only eight extra-base hits against Wacha.

Overall, Wacha is in stronger form. In his last game, he walked only one batter and hasn't allowed a homer since opening day. Since the opener, he has also improved the whiff rate of both his fastball and changeup by about eight percent. His higher-velocity fastball is harder to keep up with, and his changeup, with its seven mph difference, complements his fastball with a change of pace. The Mets slugged a lesser version of Wacha on opening day. But Wacha, who is 2-0 with a 3.09 ERA in night games so far, currently looks more like the one who shut out New York last season.

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Steven Matz (1-1 4.42 ERA) counters for New York. His one strong performance this season came in Washington, which doesn't impress me, given Washington's 2-7 record against left-handed starters. Conversely, St. Louis has proven to provide a difficult venue for Matz. Not only did the Cards produce three runs in only four innings on his opening day in New York, they also wrecked him for five runs in 4.1 innings last year in St. Louis.

In St. Louis, Matz will face a too challenging road test. Last season, the Cards' OPS (on-base plus slugging; average is .720) was .777 against left-handed pitchers, .22 higher than against righties. The Cards also match up well with Matz based on his ground-ball tendencies. Their 2017 OPS was highest against ground-ball pitchers, .792. Their current numbers don't reflect their success against left-handed pitchers or ground-ball pitchers, but it's also too early to condemn the Cards hitters for facing the likes of Arizona's left-handed road warrior Robbie Ray. After all, top addition Marcell Ozuna is strongest against left-handed ground ball pitchers with an OPS of .796 against the latter and .825 against the former. In 44 at-bats, current Cardinal batters have achieved a .348 BA against Matz with four home runs, which is one more homer than the Mets have hit in more than twice as many at-bats against Wacha. Ozuna is 4-for-13 with a double vs Matz.

Matz, whose night-time struggles this year are consistent with career-long tendencies, will not rebound tonight as Wacha will. So bet the Cardinals, who haven't lost back-to-back home games against the same team in the last four series dating back to 2017, to make it 4-0 on the RL after a one-run loss in our MLB Picks.

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