Cardinals vs. Giants: Back The Live Dog On The Bay

Pitcher Mike Leake taking the mound

Saturday, September 17, 2016 4:13 PM GMT

The Cardinals have dropped the first two of a four-game set to the Giants in what could be an NL wildcard preview. Let's see what the MLB odds makers are offering on this critical matchup with postseason implications.

When last we spoke I was waxing prosaic on the value that the MLB odds makers had bestowed upon us with the Angels at home entertaining the Mariners. There was plenty of value alright but that doesn't mean a whit if the team doesn't win, even if it's as close as a 2-1 loss. I have had a dreadful time recently of cashing an underdog in my MLB picks recently but that doesn't mean we can't keep on trying. Nevertheless, the old adage stays true today...there is no value in losing.

After a two-day baseball sabbatical, I am back with a critical game featuring the Cardinals and the Giants tonight. But if it's not too late, go check out another write-up I have involving the ancient rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees right here. It's a matinee at Fenway so hopefully, we'll get a twin killing today and bang our books with winners in both games.

 

Struggling Pitchers Duel on the Bay
Veteran hurlers Mike Leake (9-10, 4.60, 1.29) and Jeff Samardzija (11-10, 4.07, 1.21) made the leap in the offseason to St. Louis and San Francisco respectively for greener pastures, which translated means, more money. Leake was traded last season by the Reds to the team he will be opposing tonight and it didn't end very well. A mutual parting was agreed by both parties and Leake traveled east to sign a five-year $80 million pact with the Cardinals. Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija was wooed by those same San Francisco Giants to essentially replace the void that Leake left and he got $90 million richer for doing so.

Yet, both established MLB pitchers have not covered themselves in glory in their inaugural seasons with their new clubs. In fact, a case could be made that as the season has worn on both pitchers have declined. The Cardinals have lost five of the last eight games with Leake as the starter, who has a 6.15 ERA in those eight appearances. Jeff Samrdzija has not fared too much better recently. The Giants have lost 10 of the last 15 games he has started and he totes a 5.09 ERA in those performances...or lack thereof.

 

Betting Analysis
The Giants sport the better record, the home field advantage and have taken the first two from the Cardinals, I am backing the Redbirds here. This is still a team that is one of the best when they hit the highway despite their two most recent losses in San Francisco. In addition, Mike Leake has a 6-1 mark at AT&T Park where he toiled throughout the second half of last season.

The Cardinals have the bigger bats at their disposal with the 7th ranked runs scored (versus 16th for the Giants) and the 4th ranked slugging percentage (versus 24th for the Giants). Samardzija got positively ripped in his last start against the Cardinals when he allowed six earned runs on nine hits in a 7-4 loss back in June at Busch Stadium. Mike Leake has not faced his old team this season but there could be revenge on his mind for the mutual parting of the ways after last season.

I am normally not big on the psychological aspects of games because athletes are businessmen first and treat most games over the long 162 game grind like any other. However, the calendar is a constant reminder that the season is winding down and if they have any intention of copping one of the two wildcard spots then they will have to start winning. These next two games are key and the Cardinals bats have been relatively silent in this series scoring a combined four runs over the two games. Let's watch the Cards get back to hitting and Mike Leake to get back to pitching.

 

Free MLB Pick: Cardinals +121 
Best Line Offered: at BetDSI
Swinger's MLB Record: 74-51, +20.18 units

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