Free MLB Picks: Cardinals Offense Red Hot Against Lefties In 2016

Mark Lathrop

Friday, June 17, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Friday, Jun. 17, 2016 11:00 AM UTC

Our MLB handicapper brings his 26-11 record into the weekend and brings us an MLB pick on the total as the red hot Rangers visit the Cardinals in interleague play.

One of the hottest teams in the league in the Texas Rangers travel to the St. Louis Cardinals in an interleague series that starts on Friday night. The Rangers currently find themselves way up on the Seattle Mariners in the AL West as the M’s decided they should stop winning baseball games at just the same time Texas woke up from their slow start. The Rangers have won 11 of 14 games coming into this series. The Cardinals are nearly ten games back of the Chicago Cubs already, but hold a playoff spot if the season ended today. The Cardinals are also pretty hot, winning 7 of their last 10 games.

Coming into Thursday, the Cardinals have been better on the road this year than at home, compiling a 15-18 record in Busch Stadium while they’ve set a blistering 20-12 pace on the road. Texas on the other hand has come back to earth on the road, winning at a 17-15 pace while putting up a nice 24-10 record in Arlington.

The early odds listed on Thursday afternoon for this game have the moneyline odds split almost evenly between the two teams. In fact, BookMaker has Texas favored slightly and Pinnacle has St. Louis favored slightly as well. So, depending on where you shop there is value on each side to be had if you want it. The O/U has also been listed differently at books, with the line sitting at 8 (-115) at Pinnacle and 8.5 (U -115) at Heritage. Those close MLB Odds have the run lines pretty wonky, as it will cost you -205 at BetOnline to take Texas +1.5 runs.

Pitching for the Texas Rangers on Friday night is Cole Hamels. Hamels has put up an interesting season thus far, and is sporting a 6-1 record, 3.14 ERA, 81/32 K/BB rate, 1.27 WHIP, and .234 batting average against. But something is happening with Hamels as he is allowing home runs at an alarming 22.7% HR/FB rate. That rate is almost double his career average, and leads to career high fielding independent pitching (FIP) numbers of 4.98 and expected fielding independent (xFIP) of 3.93, respectively. These are the worst marks in those statistics that Hamels has ever put up, and he has never had a season with a significant difference between ERA and FIP until now. This is an indication that Hamels is lucky to have his 3.14 ERA mark so far this season. Hamels has also given up at least one home run in seven games straight.

Starting for the Cardinals is Michael Wacha, who unlike Hamels, is sporting an ERA much higher than his true pitching talent should warrant. Wacha’s ERA of 4.91 is much higher than his fielding independent pitching ERA of 3.49. Part of this luck can be explained by batting average on balls in play, or BABIP, in which Wacha is the victim of a .327 average against a .286 career mark. BABIP is one of the statistics that stabilizes the quickest in baseball, so some regression to the mean is due for Wacha. On the year, he has posted a 2-6 record, 63/28 K/BB rate, 1.45 WHIP, and .268 batting average allowed.

Both offenses have been very hot of late with each team averaging 5.7 runs per game in their last seven games. The Cardinals have the advantage as far as team offense goes in this one though, as they average 5.6 runs per game off of left-handed starters and run a 12-6 O-U record off of them. For Texas, they average 4.7 runs per game off of righties, but hold a steep 29-16 SU advantage as well.

With both offenses being hot, and Hamels continuing to struggle with the long ball, I believe the value in this game is to take the Over. The side bets are no better than a coin flip at this point. Take Over 8 runs at BookMaker as one of your MLB Picks.

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Free MLB Pick:  Over 8 -110
Best Line Offered:  at BookMaker
2016 YTD MLB: 26-11-2, +14.69 Units

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