Each day during the MLB Playoffs, LT Profits seeks a side that has a better chance of cashing than its odds would indicate. Here is their MLB Playoff Value Play for Saturday.
After each participant won its NLDS in four games, it is time for the NLCS to begin Saturday night as southpaw Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants (92-75, 46-38 away) pay a visit to right-hander Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals (93-73, 53-30 home) in Game 1 from Busch Stadium in St. Louis, MO at 8:07 ET in a game televised nationally on FOX.
The posted money line at Pinnacle Sports has St. Louis as a moderate home favorite for the contest at current odds of -123.
Battle of Staff Aces
The Giants took the difficult path to get here, first going on the road to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates on the National League Wild Card Playoff Game and then beating the team that was the best MLB pick in the National League, the top seeded Washington Nationals, in four games. Ironically their ace Bumgarner was the only pitcher to lose a game for San Francisco in that series, although he pitched well and lost that contest because of his own throwing error.
The Cardinals took care of the second seeded Los Angeles Dodgers in four games, continuing their uncanny mastery over Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw by beating him twice in that series including the fourth and deciding game. Thus, we now have a rematch of the 2012 NLCS, which the Giants won in seven games.
This series also matches up the last four National League Champions, with San Francisco going to the World Series in 2010 and 2012 while St. Louis did so in 2011 and last season. And with each team wrapping up its NLDS on Tuesday, each manager was able to set up his rotation to start his ace here in Game 1.
Dominated Giants Last Time
Wainwright is the second choice behind Kershaw for that Cy Young as he went 20-9 during the regular season with a spiffy 2.38 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and a sensational ratio of 179 strikeouts vs. 50 walks. However, he was roughed up for six runs and 11 hits in Game 1 of the NLDS, luckily getting bailed out when his teammates rallied to beat Kershaw.
There has even been speculation that the elbow problem that plagued Wainwright around the All-Star break is flaring up again, although everyone close to the situation is denying that rumor. We will give “Waino” the benefit of the doubt there and just chalk up that last start in Los Angeles as an off day, expecting a nice bounce-back effort returning home tonight.
And if his last start against the Giants is any indication, they seem like a nice opponent for Wainwright to bounce back against after he tossed 7.2 scoreless innings in that outing while allowing just four hits in San Francisco on July 2nd.
Roughed Up by Cardinals Last Time
Bumgarner was one of the best southpaws in the National League this year as he finished the regular season 18-10 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a sparkling 219 strikeouts vs. just 43 walks. And he has been brilliant for the most part in these playoffs also, first tossing a Complete Game four-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts in the wild card game against the Pirates before adding six more scoreless innings vs. the Nationals in NLDS Game 3 before the fateful seventh.
Bumgarner allowed the first two batters to reach base in that seventh inning and they both scored on his throwing error when he made an errant throw to third base to try and get the lead runner on a sacrifice attempt. Both of those runs turned out to be earned as Bumgarner took the 4-1 loss.
However, he may not pitch quite as well in this contest as the Cardinals have been sizzling vs. left-handed pitchers as of late, batting a hearty .298 while averaging a whopping 7.98 runs per nine innings against them over the last 10 games, and as mentioned they faced Kershaw twice in that span, so it is not as if they have been teeing off on garden variety southpaws.
And St. Louis also roughed up Bumgarner the last time he faced them in San Francisco on July 3rd, as they reached him for five runs on six hits plus three walks in only five innings, with Madison needing an even 100 pitches to work those five frames.
Favorite vs. Underdog Splits
Finally, when the Cardinals are supposed to win they usually have, as St. Louis is a fine 19-7 in its last 26 games as a favorite. Surprisingly though, the Giants have not really performed well as underdogs, going just 13-29 the last 42 times they have been cast in this role.
Look for each of those patterns to continue with Wainwright and the Cardinals besting Bumgarner and the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS from St. Louis on Saturday.
MLB Pick: Cardinals -123