One of this year's top moneymakers against the MLB odds meets one of this year's funkiest deliveries Saturday afternoon when the St. Louis Cardinals host the San Diego Padres.
Jason's 2015 record as of July 3: 28-22, plus-5.84 units ML; 0-3, minus-3.30 units Total
This qualifies as an epic slump when you're the St. Louis Cardinals. The best team in baseball has just dropped three games in a row, thanks to Friday's 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres (+139 away). It's only the second time this year that the Cards have lost three straight games. They have yet to lose four straight, and they'll try to keep it that way Saturday afternoon (2:15 p.m. ET) when they host San Diego in Game 3 of a four-game series.
If Michael Wacha couldn't get the job done on Friday, maybe Carlos Martinez (3.51 FIP) can. He's the “other” pitcher making big coin for the Cardinals this year, and on Saturday, he's got a reasonably winnable – but incredibly entertaining – matchup against Odrisamer Despaigne (4.69 FIP), San Diego's young Cuban prospect. The MLB odds at press time have St. Louis pegged as high as –200 for this matinee affair.
Martinez has been outstanding for the Cardinals (51-28, +18.28 betting units) this year, racking up 8.37 units of profit on a team record of 12-3. St. Louis has won seven of his last eight appearances – all of them quality starts, with just eight earned runs allowed over 47.0 innings of work. The UNDER is 6-1-1 during this span. Martinez has been working on his change-up, throwing it more often and to greater effect, striking out a career-best 9.64 batters per nine innings.
There's been some good fortune along the way. Martinez has a .284 BABIP, a notch lower that the .296 BABIP St. Louis has allowed as a team thus far. But that revamped change-up is exactly the kind of pitch that will create a lot of groundouts when batters manage to make contact. No need to worry about the regression monsters too much with this MLB pick.
The Elements of Despaigne
We gave Despaigne some love at the start of the season, but he got shelled for eight runs in an 11-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks (–124 at home). Then Despaigne got lit up again before stringing together three straight quality starts. It's been mostly downhill from there; San Diego (39-43, –3.50 units) has lost four of his last five outings, leaving them 0.43 units in the red on a team record of 5-7 when Despaigne takes the mound.
It's easy for a baseball fan to fall in love with Despaigne's unorthodox delivery, but let's not forget, he's a second-year pitcher who's No. 5 in San Diego's rotation, and would probably be in the bullpen if Brandon Morrow were healthy. Despaigne rarely gets past six innings, and the Padres have the No. 21-ranked bullpen in the majors at 1.0 WAR. They've also used closer Craig Kimbrel (2.85 FIP) in each of the last two games at an inning a pop.
We're definitely recommending adding some St. Louis batters to your Saturday lineup. Current Cardinals hitters are a combined 12-for-31 in Despaigne's short career with a combined .973 OPS; however, none of these players is likely available in your league. There are two viable options, though, in OF Randal Grichuk (.852 OPS), who was owned in 23% of Yahoo leagues at press time, and rookie OF Tommy Pham, who made his season debut on Friday after coming off the 60-day DL. Grichuk would be our choice here.
We're also happily recommending the Cardinals for your baseball picks this weekend. Despiagne is an intriguing prospect, but we don't want to overthink this – St. Louis is fifth in the majors in hitting at 13.5 WAR, and San Diego ranks No. 26 at 4.4 WAR. If we end up eating chalk instead of hot dogs this Independence Day, so be it.
Free MLB Pick: Take the Cardinals -182 at BetOnline