St. Louis owns the best record in the Majors, and sends a pitcher with an ERA under two out for the opener in Cincinnati. But this handicapper finds some betting value with the home-dog.
Cardinals vs. Reds Thursday Odds
As of this writing the best line we could find on St. Louis with Jaime Garcia was the -135 at Heritage, while Cincinnati and fellow lefty John Lamb were getting +135 at Bovada. The Cardinals could also be found getting +125 giving the run and a half on the run line at 5Dimes.
St. Louis just dropped two of three games at home to the Cubs this week, avoiding the sweep with a 4-3 victory Wednesday. So the Cardinals have lost two series in a row and five of their last seven games, although let's face it, few teams play .635 ball for very long.
At 88-51 St. Louis leads the NL Central by 4.5 games over second-place Pittsburgh.
Cincy, meanwhile, just lost two of three games at home to the Pirates, dropping Wednesday's rubber match 5-4. So the Reds have lost 10 of their last 11 series.
At 57-81 Cincinnati is waving the white flag on this season.
The Cardinals lead this season series eight games to four, with the totals skewing toward the UNDERS by a 9-3 margin.
Rookie Lamb (0-3, 6.11) is just one-for-five on quality starts since getting the call up from the Minors to join the Cincinnati rotation a month ago. Last Saturday he gave up six runs in less than six innings against Milwaukee, although almost all the damage came in one inning. And just before that he held those same Brewers to two runs through six frames, with eight strikeouts. As a Major Leaguer Lamb has allowed 36 hits through 28 innings, but his strikeouts/walks ratio is great, at 33/7.
Cincy is 0-5 in Lamb's starts, with the OVERS going 3-2.
This will be Lamb's first-ever start against St. Louis.
A product of the Kansas City system, Lamb is 39-39 with a 3.78 ERA in parts of seven Minor League seasons, 19-14/3.59 at the Triple-A level.
Garcia (8-4, 1.89) is 10-for-15 on quality starts, and two for his last three. Last Saturday he tossed seven innings of shutout ball against Pittsburgh, walking none while whiffing nine, and over his last three starts he's held opponents to five runs through 19 1/3 innings. On the season, which for him didn't start until mid-June, Garcia has allowed just 74 hits through 100 innings, walked 21 and struck out 73.
The Cardinals are 10-5 in Garcia's starts, with the UNDERS going 10-4.
In his one start this year against Cincinnati Garcia gave up three runs and four hits through six innings of a 4-0 St. Louis loss back in July.
Thursday's Batting Splits
St. Louis only ranks 24th in the Majors this season playing against left-handed pitching with a .309 team on-base percentage, and 28th with a .356 team slugging percentage. The Cardinals are 21-16 this season against left-handed starters, while going 67-35 against right-handed starters.
Cincy, meanwhile, ranks 19th against lefties with a .314 team OBP and 13th with a .407 team slugging percentage.
Throw in some power numbers and we gotta give the edge with the sticks tonight to the Reds.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Great American Ball Park this season are 38-28 on the OVERS, averaging a shade under nine runs per.
Cards-Reds Free Picks
St. Louis seems an obvious choice here, but the Cards have a little trouble with lefties, and Cincy beat Garcia the last time they met. We'll take a chance with the home dog for our MLB pick. Also, this series is skewing low-scoring this season, so we're thinking UNDER.
MLB Free Pick: Reds & UNDER 8 (-104) at Pinnacle