Reds with Cueto are the Underdog MLB Pick in St. Louis

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, April 17, 2015 5:37 PM GMT

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 more proven veteran could have very good underdog value Friday night in a potential pitching duel when Johnny Cueto and those Cincinnati Reds (5-4, 1-2 away) pay a visit to fellow right-hander Michael Wacha and the St. Louis Cardinals (5-3, 2-1 home) at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO at 8:15 ET in a game available on FOX Sports - Ohio.

The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has Cincinnati as a moderate road underdog for this contest at current odds of +115.


Pitching Rematch
These two teams just met last weekend in Cincinnati with the visiting Cardinals taking two of the three games and this game tonight is a pitching rematch from last Saturday when Wacha and the Cardinals got the best of Cueto and the Reds 4-1, with each hurler allowing just one earned run in the contest. That started a current streak that has seen St. Louis win four of its last five games including the last two vs. the Milwaukee Brewers in a series ending yesterday.

Conversely the Reds have now been the losing MLB picks in four of their last five games after dropping two out of three to the Cubs at Wrigley Field before having Thursday off. Still, we feel that combination of events has served to give value here to one of the best pitchers in baseball as an underdog, which is not intended as a knock against Wacha, who is probably a future superstar.


Would Have Been Cy Young Winner
After all, if not for the season that Clayton Kershaw had for the Dodgers last year, Cueto would have been the 2014 Cy Young Award winner as he finished second in the voting after going 20-9 with a 2.25 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, a .194 batting average allowed and 242 strikeouts in 243.2 innings vs. 65 walks, and remember that was while pitching for a team that went 76-86 while having trouble scoring runs!

Fast forward to this year and Cueto stands at 0-1 after two starts with the loss coming to Wacha last time out, but do not read too much into that as Johnny has still allowed just one earned run on only eight hits plus two walks in 14 innings with 14 strikeouts already, so his pitching luck is certain to change sooner rather than later.

And could that luck begin to change tonight at what may be an overlay price? We do not see why not as this would not be the first time that the team that lost the first game in an immediate pitching rematch got revenge in the second game. After all, Cueto allowed only five earned runs in three starts vs. the Cardinals last season on 13 hits with 19 strikeouts vs. six walks in 20 innings (2.25 ERA, 0.95 WHIP), and he certainly pitched well enough to win on Saturday.


Reds Have Hit Wacha Before
Now, as we alluded to earlier, take nothing away from Wacha as he has been nothing short of impressive since coming up to the majors in 2013 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 161 strikeouts in 178 Major League innings vs. 53 walks with the win over the Reds marking his 2015 seasonal debut. Wacha even has a World Series win to his credit back in his rookie year.

With that being said, it is not as if the Reds have not hit him well before as they did reach him for six runs (five earned) on six hits plus three walks in just four innings in a start last September, and that was with a decimated Cincinnati lineup beset with injuries. And remember that if Cueto pitches the Reds to a lead this time late in the game, Cincinnati has the better closer between these two teams in Aroldis Chapman.


When Cueto Gets Good, He Stays Good
Finally, Cueto used to battle some inconsistency earlier in his career, something that he has certainly improved on in recent seasons, and he now has fewer “bounces” than he used to. In fact, the Reds are 44-19 in Cueto’s last 63 starts following a Quality Start in his previous start!

Look for that pattern to continue here at a good underdog price with Cueto and Cincinnati getting the best of Wacha this time in St. Louis on Friday.

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MLB Pick: Reds +115