The Cardinals look to continue their march to the NL playoffs with a home series against the Reds this week, and St. Louis is a heavy favorite on the MLB odds in Monday's opener.
Cincinnati's rotation was already set up so that the St. Louis Cardinals would miss Reds ace Johnny Cueto when the division rivals clash this week. It's set up now so that the Cardinals won't have to face Cueto the next three times the teams meet after the Reds dealt their star away on Sunday.
Should the Cardinals see Cueto again in 2015, it will have to come in the World Series as he's now a member of the Kansas City rotation. St. Louis now awaits to see if the Reds unload any additional stars from their roster during the 3-game series that gets underway in Arch City starting Monday evening (8:15 PM ET).
Sporting Major League Baseball's best record entering the set, the Cardinals send Lance Lynn to the hill in front of the home fans as -195 chalk on the moneyline at 5Dimes, those MLB odds up 20 cents from the opener. Cincinnati counters with Raisel Iglesias, the 7½ run total priced to the 'under' and threatening to move to 7.
Cards 5-1 Vs. Reds This Season
As July draws to a close, it's just the third meeting of the year between the old foes who have three more to follow after this one. The Reds won the first game vs. the Cards way back in early-April, but St. Louis has since won five straight, and 29 of the last 45.
Two of the five victories for St. Louis (63-35, +22.2 units) came when Cueto was squared off opposite Michael Wacha, who is also out of the Cardinals rotation plans for the series. Two of the three games played at the latest incarnation of Busch Stadium in mid-April stayed 'under' the totals after seven of nine on this diamond a year ago shot past the MLB odds. The Cards are 51-25 vs. the Reds in this park that opened in 2006. They're 6-2 since the break and close out this long homestand with four against the Colorado Rockies beginning Friday.
Cincinnati (43-53, -11.6 units) treks into St. Louis from Denver following a weekend set against the Rockies. The Reds received three southpaws from Kansas City in the deal for Cueto, including Brandon Finnegan who had been rated the No. 4 prospect in the Royals system, and rumors continue to swirl around several other Cincinnati players being on the market such as Aroldis Chapman and Jay Bruce.
Lynn Seeing Reds For 1st Time In 2015
Bouncing between the minors and majors this season, Iglesias should get a chance to stick with the big league club the rest of the way with Cueto now gone. The rookie only has one quality start among the six he's made, and has not been a good gamble to make it past the fifth due to working into so many deep counts. One of the six assignments happened to be his MLB debut in April against the Cardinals, the 25-year-old Cuban earning a no-decision in an eventual 7-5 Cincinnati loss at home (5 IP, 3 ER),
Lynn has been a steady arm in manager Mike Matheny's rotation all year, a few bumps along the way but otherwise solid with a 2.80 ERA and the Cardinals winning 11 of his 18 starts to add more than four units to baseball bettors bankrolls. He has been especially tough at home where his side has been victorious seven of nine outings.
The former Ole Miss star didn't catch the Reds when the clubs met previously this year, but has faced them regularly in the past with Monday's matchup his 12th career assignment vs. Cincinnati to go with three relief outings (3.72 ERA). Bruce is one Reds hitter that has given Lynn fits over the years, collecting 14 hits in 28 career at bats, three of them home runs.
Monday has the best chance for rain in St. Louis the next few days, but nothing that should keep the game from being played. A muggy 89º is forecast for the first pitch with barely any wind, and I'm forecasting a win for the home team with a run line play for my free MLB pick.
MLB Pick: Cardinals -1½ (+113)
Season: 64-56-2 (+9.75)