MLB Picks: Cardinals vs. Reds Bet the Underdog

Steve Merril - Steve@prosportsinfo.com

Friday, August 2, 2013 2:00 PM GMT

St. Louis (63-44, +5.3 Units) and Cincinnati (60-49, -1.7 Units) begin an important 3-game divisional series tonight.

The Cardinals snapped their 7-game losing streak with a 13-0 win over Pittsburgh last night.  The Reds return home off an 8-game West Coast road trip where they went just 3-5 overall, including a 1-5 run to finish the trip. 

St. Louis is 2-1 (+1.0 Units) on the road against Cincinnati this season.  Overall, the Cardinals are 6-3 (+2.7 Units) versus the Reds this season. Let's look at the MLB odds and this matchup to better identify how we should make our MLB picks here.

Shelby Miller will get the start for St. Louis while Bronson Arroyo takes the mound for Cincinnati. 

Miller (10-7)

Has an impressive 2.78 ERA and 1.11 WHIP on the season.  Miller has a strong 124/32 K/BB ratio in 116.1 innings pitched this season.  Over his last three starts, Miller owns a 2.70 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 16.2 innings of work.  Miller has faced Cincinnati just once in his career (last October); he went 6 innings allowing 0 runs on 1 hit with 7 strikeouts.

Arroyo (9-8) 

Has a respectable 3.26 ERA and 1.14 WHIP on the season.  However, those surface stats are masking his terrible underlying skills.  Arroyo’s xERA (skills only measure) is much higher at 4.15 and he has a high 77% strand rate which shows he’s been a bit lucky as well.  Arroyo has terrible career numbers against St. Louis.  He is 8-15 with a 4.44 ERA and 1.32 WHIP.  His teams are just 13-21 (-6.9 Units) in those games against the Cardinals. 

Great American Ballpark

The Reds’ home park favors hitters with a +121 park factor.  Miller’s impeccable control and his ability to get strikeouts are important characteristics to have in a hitter-friendly ballpark.  Arroyo has pitched well at home this season, but again, his underlying skills indicate regression is on the horizon.  He has been tagged for 17 hits and 8 earned runs in 19 innings pitched against St. Louis this season. 

Miller Projection

Based on the underlying skills and advanced metrics I use, Miller shows a line of 2.5 earned runs, a 3.76 ERA and 1.30 WHIP against the Reds in this game. 

Arroyo Projection 

Based on the underlying skills and advanced metrics I use, Arroyo shows a line of 3.3 earned runs, a 4.61 ERA and 1.33 WHIP against the Cardinals in this game. 

Cardinals

St. Louis’ offense broke out last night when they scored 13 runs on 17 hits in their win at Pittsburgh.  The Cardinals have crushed right-handed pitching all season.  In 81 games (52-29, +14.8 Units), they are hitting .279 as a team while scoring 5.1 runs per game against righties. 

Reds

Cincinnati’s offense comes into tonight’s game in terrible current form as they’ve scored just 14 total runs in their last seven games.  The Reds are just 2-5 (-4.0 Units) in those games while hitting a miserable .194 as a team. 

[gameodds]3/240401/?r-1=43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

Bottom Line 

The current line on this game shows Cincinnati -115 and St. Louis +105 with a total of 8 Over -110.  Based on the starting pitching match-up numbers alone, we see some good value with Miller and the Cardinals in this game.  The total looks spot-on so that is an easy pass.  We recommend taking the live road underdog in this game on Friday night, especially since Miller rates a clear match-up edge over Arroyo.