St. Louis stumbled into the All-Star break, losing three straight to Pittsburgh, but has opened post-break by taking the first two games of a series with the Mets. This handicapper likes the Cards' chances of completing the sweep Sunday.
Mets-Cardinals Sunday Betting Odds
As of this writing the best line we could find on St. Louis with rookie lefty Tim Cooney was the -138 offered at BetOnline, while New York and fellow southpaw Jon Niese were getting +130 at GT Bets. And most books were listing a total on today's game of 7.5 runs, although there were some eights out there, with the grease leaning toward the UNDERS.
St. Louis has taken the first two games of this series, by scores of 3-2 and 12-2. The Cardinals are now 33-11 at home this season, while New York is 15-30 on the road.
At 58-33 St. Louis owns the best record in baseball, and a 4.5-game lead over second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central.
At 47-44 the Mets are three games behind division-leading Washington in the NL East, and just two games behind the Cubs in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
The Cardinals lead this season series four games to two, outscoring New York 35-13.
Cooney (0-0, 4.34) is just one-for-four on quality starts this season, one for three since re-joining the rotation earlier this month. Last Sunday he gave up three runs in five innings against Pittsburgh, and over his last three starts he's allowed seven runs through 16 1/3 innings. On the season Cooney has permitted 20 hits through 18 2/3 innings, walked six and struck out 17; St. Louis is 1-3 in Cooney's starts, with the OVERS going 4-0.
This will be Cooney's first-ever start against New York, which could give him an edge, at least for the first couple of times through the lineup.
Niese (5-8, 3.61), by our strict standards, is nine-for-17 on quality starts, and five for his last six. Last Sunday he gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings against Arizona, and over his last six starts he's allowed 11 earned runs through 41 2/3 innings. On the season Niese has allowed 111 hits through 105 innings, walked 33 and struck out 70; the Mets are just 6-11 in Niese's starts, with the OVERS going 9-6.
Last year Niese started twice against St. Louis, giving up four runs through 12 2/3 innings; but in his first start against the Cards this season, back in May, he got bombed for eight runs in five innings of a 10-2 New York defeat.
Saturday's Batting Splits
New York ranks 28th in the Majors this season against left-handed pitching with a .226 team batting average, and 28th in team on-base percentage at .291.
St. Louis isn't much better against lefties, ranking 27th in average at .230 and 20th in OBP at .311.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at Busch Stadium this season are a lopsided 29-14 on the UNDERS, averaging just 6.6 runs per, third-fewest among all ML ballparks.
St. Louis OF Jason Heyward, who went five-for-five at the plate Saturday, left the game with cramps, and is uncertain for Sunday.
Sunday Free Picks
Niese has been solid as of late, but his last effort against St. Louis did not go well. Meanwhile, Mets hitters are unfamiliar with Cooney. So in a close call we'll go with the Cardinals for today. Also, both these lineups rank near the bottom against LH pitching, and both bullpens rank among the best in baseball. So we're thinking UNDER.