Free MLB Pick for NLCS Game 5: Cardinals vs. Giants

Willie Bee

Thursday, October 16, 2014 3:27 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 16, 2014 3:27 PM GMT

The San Francisco Giants are just one win away from hoisting their 23rd NL Pennant, and the MLB odds are in their favor Thursday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.

One half of this year's World Series has been decided after the Kansas City Royals completed a 4-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday. If MLB gets its way, the National League's entry into the Fall Classic won't be decided until Sunday so they can squeeze three more games of prime-time advertising into their pockets.

The San Francisco Giants may not comply with those wishes, however, and can wrap things up Thursday night in the NLCS. San Francisco holds a 3-1 lead over the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Giants will have their ace on the bump at AT&T Park for the FOX Sports 1 broadcast that begins at 8 PM (ET).

In fact, both teams are sending their top hurler to the mound for the clash, Adam Wainwright going for St. Louis opposite San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner. The Giants opened the baseball betting proceedings as -130 favorites, and that number has swelled to -135 following their 6-4 win in Game 4.

SBR's live MLB odds have a 6 run total for the affair, the 'over' drawing a little extra juice.

 

With Backs Against The Wall, Cards Turn To Wainwright
October baseball has not gone well for Wainwright who has failed to make it through five innings in either of his starts, surrendering nine runs (8 earned) along the way. The big righty insists that while his elbow is "not 100%," it's not the reason for his lackluster efforts. The most glaring stat isn't the 17 hits Wainwright has allowed in nine playoff innings, but the four walks after averaging less than half that clip in the regular season.

Wainwright did pick up a win at AT&T Park earlier this year, working into the eighth and posting zeroes on the Giants side of the scoreboard, but that was his best start ever on this mound. The 9-year vet was 2-4 with a 3.82 ERA in five starts and a relief outing in San Francisco before that.

Bumgarner was masterful all season for the Giants, and he's been just as solid through three playoff starts. First came a complete game shutout performance over the Pirates in the NL Wild Card matchup, and though he took the loss in Game 3 of the NLDS vs. Washington, it was Bumgarner's fielding gaffe and not his pitching that did him in.

The 25-year-old southpaw then helped the Giants to Game 1 of this NLCS when he matched up against Wainwright in St. Louis, working into the eighth of San Fran's 3-0 victory. It was Bumgarner's second win over the Cardinals this season, and he'll be out to avenge a poor performance against them in Game 1 of the 2012 NLCS.

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Greg Gibson is up next in the umpire rotation to call balls and strikes. The Ohio native was 17-14 O/U during the regular season, eight of his 11 games with totals of 7 or less skipping past the mark. It's his fourth plate appearance in an NLCS game, and each of the previous three also involved the Cards, two of the three going 'over' the total. Gibson called the decisive sixth game a year ago in St. Louis, a 9-0 rout by the Redbirds, and also worked Game 4 the previous season when Wainwright and the Cardinals beat Tim Lincecum and the Giants, 8-3.

The cocktail hour start time in San Francisco should find the thermometer in the mid-60s with a few clouds overhead. The weatherman is also calling for a SW breeze in the 8-10 mph range (out to left).

It's pretty simple match for the Cardinals right now, either win three straight or sit home and watch the Giants take on the Royals in the World Series. Perhaps it's just the fan in me that wants to see this series continue, but I'm running with the underdogs with my free MLB pick for Game 5.

MLB Pick: Cardinals +125 at Will Hill
Season: 126-121-8 (+4.15)

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