MLB Handicapper Picks Cincy Reds to Beat Cardinals Tonight

Darin Zank

Monday, August 18, 2014 2:58 PM GMT

Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 2:58 PM GMT

St. Louis is trying to stay close in the NL Central race, while Cincinnati is fading. Here's our breakdown of a three-game series between the Cardinals and Reds at Busch Stadium that begins Monday night (8:15 pm ET), with free MLB picks for each game (entertainment purposes only, of course).

Reds-Cards Betting Odds
As of early Monday morning's MLB Odds, the best price we could find on St. Louis and Justin Masterson was the -137 offered at Heritage, while Cincy and Mike Leake could be found at +127 at BetOnline. And most shops were listing the total on Monday's game at 7.5 runs.

The Cardinals could also be gotten at around +160 giving the run and a half on the run line.

And Bovada is chalking St. Louis at -180 to win this series, with the Reds getting +150.

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Series Set-Up
St. Louis just took three of four games from San Diego over the weekend, winning Sunday 7-6. But the Cardinals have lost two of their last three series, going 5-5 in the process.

At 66-57 the Cards are in second place in the NL Central, three games behind first-place Milwaukee. But St. Louis also leads the National League wild-card race by a game over San Francisco and 2.5 games over the Braves and Pirates.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, just dropped three of four games at Colorado over the weekend, losing twice Sunday by scores of 10-9 and 10-5. The Reds led both of those games late, but the bullpen blew those leads. Cincy has lost three series in a row, and seven of its last nine games.

At 61-63 the Reds are in fourth place in the Central, 8.5 games out of first. Cincy also trails the Giants by 4.5 games in the battle for that second NL wild-card slot.

St. Louis leads this season series six games to three, with the totals going 5-4.

 

Monday's Starters
Masterson (6-7, 5.58) is just 8/22 on quality starts this season, 1/3 since joining the Cardinals in that trade with Cleveland. Last time out he held Miami scoreless on three hits through seven innings, but in his first two starts for St. Louis he gave up ten runs through eight innings.

For the season Masterson has allowed 123 hits in 113 innings, walked 62, which is way too many, and struck out 102. The Cardinals are 2-1 in Masterson's starts, with the totals going 2-1.

Masterson, pitching for the Indians, started once against the Reds last year, allowing one run and four hits through six innings of a 5-2 Cleveland victory.

Leake (9-11, 3.59) is 12/25 on quality starts this year, and three for his last four. Most recently he got nicked for five runs in five innings by Boston, but in his three starts previous to that he had held foes to three runs through 20 2/3 innings.

On the season Leake has allowed 170 hits in 166 innings, walked 38 and struck out 129. Cincy is only 10-15 in Leake's starts, although that's not all his fault.

Leake has started twice this season against the Cardinals, holding them to two runs and 11 hits through 14 innings; the Reds split those two games, and both games stayed 'under.'

In the battle of the bullpens for this series St. Louis ranks 19th in ERA at 3.73, with 42 saves in 54 chances, while Cincinnati ranks 24th in ERA at 3.98, with 33 saves in 50 chances.

 

With the Sticks
Cincinnati ranks 27th in team OBP at .302, third in stolen bases with 98 but 25th in scoring at 3.8 runs per game.

St. Louis ranks 11th in team OBP at .318 but 29th in homers with 81, 26th in stolen bases with 49 and 28th in scoring at 3.8 RPG.

 

Reds-Cards Betting Trends
Cincy has played five 'overs' in its last seven games.

St. Louis has played four 'unders' in its last six games.

The totals have leaned toward the 'unders' in games played at Busch Stadium this season by a 30-28 margin.

 

Injury Update
Cincy IF Brandon Phillips has missed the last five weeks with a thumb injury, but he could return for this series. But the Reds will still be without 1B Joey Votto, who's on the DL with a torn quad, and 3B Todd Frazier (20 HR, 64 RBI) has missed recent action with a sore back, and is questionable for this series.

St. Louis, meanwhile, is still playing without C Yadier Molina, who's on the DL with a bad thumb.

 

Free Pick for Monday
We give Leake a short edge in the pitching match-up, and hopefully the Reds will get Phillips back. So we'll go with Cincy, at the underdog price, for our free MLB pick on this series opener.

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