Let's Drink to a Brewers Win vs. St Louis in Series Finale

Wednesday, April 4, 2018 11:32 AM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 4, 2018 11:32 AM UTC

Milwaukee looks to prolong its hot start against the NL Central-rival Cardinals tonight at 7:40 ET. Can the Cards avenge Tuesday night's late-inning loss behind its ace?

St. Louis Cardinals (2-3) at Milwaukee Brewers (4-1)Free MLB Pick: Brewers MLBest Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Carlos Martinez's (0-1, 8.31 ERA) opening day start was not exactly ace material for St. Louis. At the New York Mets, he struggled with command, walking six batters while striking out five. Last season he had an ERA of over 5.00 in the first inning, so check out a "Brewers score first" prop here. Against the Mets he was poor in the first inning and continued to struggle throughout the 4.1 innings in which he pitched, giving up four earned runs in a losing effort. I fully expect the Cards' ace to return to form in our MLB picks, but Milwaukee's Miller Park is not the place for him to improve. Last season, he performed well against Milwaukee in St. Louis, but it was a different story whenever he pitched in Beer Town. In three games at Miller Park, Martinez allowed 11 earned runs in 15.2 innings and lost each of those games.

Miller Park is very favorable toward left-handed batters. It ranks consistently among leading stadiums in terms of left-handed power. This is important because Martinez tends to struggle against left-handed hitters. Right-handed pitchers typically do worse against lefties than righties, sure, but with Martinez the weakness has created a relatively disturbing statistic throughout his career. Against him, left-handed batters are slugging .105 higher than right-handers and their average is .43 higher. So watch out for Travis Shaw, Eric Thames and Christian Yelich, who are a combined 10-for-26 against Martinez in their careers and are slugging very strongly at this part of the season.

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Jhoulys Chacin (0-0 10.80 ERA) counters for Milwaukee. The former Padre is known for his breaking pitches, inducing a high ground-ball rate and allowing notoriously few home runs. His home runs allowed statistics is very impressive considering the amount of time he spent in Colorado, whose Coors Field is known for seeing a lot of dingers. Whereas Martinez allowed a career high in home runs allowed per nine innings last year and is still working with his new pitching coach on improving that number, Chacin has been consistent the past two years in not allowing too many home runs. He ranks 16th among active pitchers in the category (HR/9 allowed), ahead of studs like Madison Bumgarner and Chris Sale. Chacin's strength -- keeping the ball down -- gives Milwaukee another power edge against Martinez in Miller Park. Furthermore, Chacin does share Martinez's weakness against left-handed batters, but the weakness isn't statistically so pronounced. Also, unlike the case with Milwaukee's batters, St. Louis' top batters are not left-handers. So Milwaukee's batters will more fully be able to exploit the weakness of their opposing pitcher.

Bullpen gives another edge to Milwaukee for an MLB pick and not just because the Cards' pen surrendered four late runs Tuesday to allow the Brewers to win in comeback fashion. The Brewers' bullpen ranked 9th last year in ERA despite playing in a very hitter-friendly park. Corey Knebel has established himself as a reliable closer, earning 39 saves and a 1.78 ERA last year. Jacob Barnes is also a strong reliever who has a perfect ERA so far and didn't allow a single run to St. Louis last year in Miller Park. Josh Hader, who achieved a 2.08 ERA last year and is still perfect this year, is another solid option out of the pen.

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