The second weekend of the MLB baseball betting season finds the Reds and Cardinals meeting for the second time, and Friday's matchup in St. Louis begins with a dandy mound duel.
Reds/Cardinals Game 3
By: Willie Bee
Busch Stadium in St. Louis has turned into a little shop of horrors recently for the Cincinnati Reds. The Cardinals have won nine of the last 11 vs. the Reds on this diamond, and they have a chance at a series sweep Sunday evening with their ace, Adam Wainwright, on the mound.
ESPN will begin its coverage of the game at 8 PM (ET), Wainwright's first pitch expected five minutes later. The Redbirds went out at -180 on the MLB odds, and remain in that general vicinity following overnight trading. Mike Leake takes his turn in the Cincy rotation, a 7 run total split evenly high and low.
St. Louis upped its win streak to 4-straight on Saturday with a 5-2 victory; Carlos Martinez worked the first six innings for the Cards to get the win and Jason Heyward went yard for the first time since being dealt to St. Louis from Atlanta in the offseason.
Wainwright With 17 IP Scoreless Streak Vs. Reds
Leake sizzled this spring in five exhibition starts, allowing just three runs in 20 innings covering five trips to the mound. That hasn't translated too well into the start of this season with a 4.97 ERA over two assignments, taking a no-decision in both of them while the Reds split the two games vs. the Pirates and at the Cubs. Cincinnati went 2-3 in his five starts against the Cardinals last year, 1-2 at Busch, while the former Arizona State standout fashioned a 3.60 ERA overall.
Wainwright was slowed in spring training by an abdominal strain, and is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in the early going. The big righty was brilliant vs. the Cubs on Opening Day before getting knocked around by the Brewers on Monday (7 IP, 5 Runs). He's been stingier on the road than at home since the start of last season, and blanked the Reds over 15 innings in two starts a year ago.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Tasked with calling balls and strikes in the series finale is veteran umpire Jim Reynolds. His first two plate assignments of 2015 skipped past the totals, a direct contrast to a 9-21 O/U mark a year ago.
We still have a lot of rain in the forecast for much of the central and eastern United States, with a 70%-80% chance of thunderstorms in the St. Louis area throughout the afternoon. That tapers off a bit come first pitch, but not by much at 40% with a game-time temp of 69º along with a slight breeze from the west. The potential for wet weather always makes things a bit iffy, but I like the 'over' for my free MLB pick tonight.
MLB Pick: Reds-Cardinals Over 7 at Pinnacle
Season: 10-8-1 (+1.25)
Reds/Cardinals Game 2
By: Willie Bee
Once again, Michael Wacha and Johnny Cueto hooked up in a close, well-pitched game early in Friday's series opener in St. Louis between the Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. And once again, St. Louis hitters broke it up late to give Wacha and the Redbirds the win.
Neither Cincinnati nor St. Louis will have much time to ponder Game 1 of their weekend set as both teams are scheduled to be back on the Busch Stadium diamond this afternoon at 2:15 PM (ET). Homer Bailey makes his season debut for the Reds opposite Carlos Martinez of the Cardinals who are priced anywhere from -130 to -145 on the MLB odds board. Scoreboard bettors are looking at 7½ for the total.
Wacha's 7 IP, 1 ER effort and Yadier Molina's 3-run double in the seventh keyed St. Louis' 6-1 triumph on Friday. The Cardinals closed around -120 on the MLB odds in the opener, their 3rd-straight victory, and moved ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central race by a game.
Bailey Making First Start Since Surgery
A lot was expected of Bailey when the Reds made him the seventh overall pick out of high school in the 2004 draft, and he has been delivering on those promises the past few seasons. A torn flexor tendon in his right arm prematurely ended his 2014 season after he turned around a slow start to the campaign, and Saturday marks his first appearance on a major league mound since early last August.
One team that has given him some trouble the last three seasons is St. Louis. Bailey faced the Cardinals 11 times from 2012-14, the Reds losing seven of the games -- 1-4 at Busch Stadium -- while the Texan compiled a 4.52 ERA.
Martinez has bounced between the rotation and bullpen the past couple of seasons for the Cards, but won a spot in the rotation with good results this spring. He allowed a couple of solo homers to the Reds last Sunday in Cincinnati and left with the lead only to earn a no-decision in St. Louis' extra inning victory. All of his previous experience vs. Cincy came from the bullpen, 11 appearances with a 2.87 ERA (15.2 IP).
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Crew chief Fieldin Culbreth was absent from Game 1, so we have to assume the normal umpire rotation is a bit iffy this weekend. If it does follow the usual circuit, Manny Gonzalez will work the plate today. His only dish assignment so far this year went 'over' the mark, and the Venezuelan was 6-3 O/U last season in games with 7½ run totals.
Rain is all over the eastern half of the Lower 48's forecast on Saturday; things don't look too bad with a 25% shot in St. Louis for the afternoon, and with more rain expected Sunday, the umpires will do everything they can to get this one in. St. Louis pitchers are on a roll right now, and I'm going to grab the Cards at this price for me free MLB pick.
MLB Pick: Cardinals -135
Season: 9-8-1 (+0.25)
Friday's Series Opener
By: Willie Bee
Some of the intensity in the rivalry between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals may have diminished since former managers Dusty Baker and Tony La Russa left the respective top steps of their dugouts. Just don't make the mistake of thinking all of the bad blood has gone away.
The two old foes are set to begin their second series of the young MLB odds season this weekend in St. Louis, and the pieces are there for the Reds and Cardinals to engage in a knockdown, drag-out three game set at Busch III. Everything gets underway Friday evening with the first pitch about a quarter past eight (ET), and the series begins with a mound rematch from one of the clashes a week ago in Cincinnati.
Mike Matheny sends Michael Wacha to the hill for St. Louis in Game 1, Bryan Price handing the ball to staff ace Johnny Cueto. St. Louis opened at -140 or so on the baseball betting board, but that moneyline is now down in the low -120s. The marquee names on the hill to start the contest have the total at 6½ runs.
Redbirds Seeking 4th-Straight Season Series Dominance
The clubs got together just seven days ago in Cincinnati where the Cardinals took two of three from the Reds, grabbing their sixth series triumph in the last seven get-togethers thanks to an 11-inning, 7-5 decision in the Sunday finale. St. Louis has won nine consecutive series at home, the Redlegs last tasting victory in a set in Arch City way back in September 2011.
Two of the three last weekend at Great American Ball Park went past the totals, which ranged from 6½-8 on the baseball odds. 'Over' bettors were rewarded in seven of the nine matchups at Busch Stadium a year ago, and have cashed 11 of the last 15 played on this diamond.
St. Louis enters the weekend with a 1,208-1,110 regular season record vs. the Reds, 21 more games suspended or ending in ties since the rivalry began in 1882 when the two clubs were officially known as the Brown Stockings and Red Stockings. The Cardinals have almost doubled-up on Cincinnati since the latest incarnation of Busch was opened in 2006, winning 48 of the 73 contests.
Wacha, Cueto Both Solid In First Collision
Neither manager could complain about the efforts they got from Wacha and Cueto last Saturday when the two righthanders collided in the second game of that set. Wacha got the dubya in St. Louis' 4-1 win, working into the seventh with the only Cincinnati run coming on a Todd Frazier solo shot with two outs in the first. The victory left the Cards 3-3 in Wacha's six career starts vs. the Reds, the former Texas Aggie sporting a 2.15 ERA over 37+ frames.
Cueto was equally effective, allowing one earned run over seven innings only to take the loss thanks in part to an error by Frazier in the second. The stocky Dominican will be seeking his first win in St. Louis since April 2010, the Reds 2-4 now in his last six assignments overall vs. the Cards despite an impressive 2.30 ERA in that stretch.
Muggy temps in the mid-to-upper 70s are expected to greet the first pitch and a few clouds skies will give way to clear skies by the time the game concludes. What little breeze there is will be from the east (in from right).
The mediots are going to be all over the Cubs this weekend, what with Chicago tied for first in the NL Central with St. Louis and calling up phenom Kris Bryant. The Reds are just a half-game behind that pair, so it's a big early weekend for all three, and both Cincinnati and St. Louis are more than happy to see the spotlight off their series. I'm going to put the spotlight on the pitchers in the opener, and go with the 'under' for my free MLB Picks.
Game 1 MLB Pick: Reds-Cardinals Under 6.5 at BookMaker
Season: 9-7-1 (+1.35)