Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Friday.
The road team with the undervalued pitcher appears to have value Friday night vs. the team with the best record in the Major Leagues when Andrew Cashner and the San Diego Padres (38-43, 20-21 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals (51-27, 29-10 home) for the second game of a four-game holiday weekend series from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO at 8:15 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Midwest.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has San Diego as a decided underdog for this contest at current odds of +154.
Three Straight Losses at Home
The Cardinals still have the best record in baseball at 51-27, but they have suddenly lost three straight games and all at home, which is remarkable considering they had a fabulous 29-7 home mark before this steak began! The most recent defeat came in the series opener 5-3 in 11 innings to the Padres here last night on a pinch-hit two-run homer by San Diego’s Will Venable in the 11th frame.
The Padres have been disappointing MLB picks this season at five games under .500 after spending more money than they have in years under new management during this past off-season. The good news though is that hope is not lost, as while they are in fourth place in the National League West, they are still a manageable 7½ games behind the first place Dodgers at the halfway point of the season.
Cashner Closer to Himself
Now, Cashner has always had some of the nastiest stuff in the National League when he was on top of his game, but on the surface that has not been the case very often this season as he sits at just 3-9 with a 4.22 ERA and 1.42 WHIP overall. However, we are now starting to see the Cashner of old as he has allowed three earned runs or less in three of his last four starts, most recently limiting Arizona to two runs in seven innings with six strikeouts and not a single walk.
This regression was inevitable for a guy that has a 3.44 ERA with 420 strikeouts vs. only 158 walks over the course of his career, and he has continued to maintain those excellent command numbers even this season with 89 strikeouts vs. 29 walks in 96 innings. This will be his first career start vs. the Cardinals, which should work to his advantage, and he could be catching the St. Louis offense at the perfect time as it has scored just five runs in those last three losses.
Wacha Inconsistent Lately
Now, we have all the respect in the world for Wacha and he has been just fine this year at 10-3 with a 2.77 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. However, he has just two Quality Starts over his last four outings while alternating good starts and shaky ones, which is a disturbing pattern as it would put him in line for a bad one tonight.
More significantly, Wacha does not have the peripheral numbers you would expect from someone with his great raw ability and repertoire. Wacha has struck out about a batter per inning in the past, but that strikeout rate is down to 7.06 per nine innings this season, and while he does still have a very good 3.57 xFIP, that figure is 0.80 higher than his ERA, suggesting that his recent bout with being erratic may not be fluky.
Bullpens in Opposite Directions
Finally, if this is a close game late, the Cardinals still lead the National League in bullpen ERA at 2.18, which is second in the Major Leagues behind only the other Missouri team the Kansas City Royals of the American League, but that unit has been more human lately with a collective 3.48 ERA and 1.32 WHIP the last 10 games. Conversely, the Padres have a 3.86 ERA for the season but that figure is much better at 2.78 with a 1.01 WHIP in the last 10 contests.
So with Cashner regressing to his normal good form and the bullpen improving, San Diego seems to provide very good underdog value when visiting St. Louis on Friday.
MLB Pick: Padres +154