Now that is exactly the way we wanted to get started with our MLB Series Picks!
The games were close, but the Pittsburgh Pirates went into Washington and took two of three for the Nats to win the series at rather large +170 odds!
Baseball can be a funny game as it is a 162-game regular season grind and any team can beat any team in a given series. We don’t want to just start throwing darts at some underdogs, but taking a calculated risk based on research at some valuable odds is what we are going to be doing with these picks.
It worked out in our first pick of the season, and let’s move on to our second as the Cardinals and Brewers get together for a three-game set from Miller Park in Milwaukee.
Let’s take a look at the probable pitchers for this series, as per MLB.com before breaking down each pitching matchup and concluding with some additional thoughts and the pick.
- Monday: Dakota Hudson (STL) vs. Freddy Peralta (MIL)
- Tuesday: Jack Flaherty (STL) vs. Brandon Woodruff (MIL)
- Wednesday: Michael Wacha (STL) vs. Corbin Burnes (MIL)
Now let’s break down each pitching matchup before getting into the pick!
Monday: Hudson (0-1, 2.79 ERA) vs. Peralta (1-0, 6.91 ERA)
After making 26 appearances out of the Cardinals’ bullpen last season will get a chance to be a full-time member of the Cardinals rotation this time around. After all, he’s a starter by trade as he made 19 starts at the Triple-A level in 2018, turning in a 2.50 ERA, although his 3.54 FIP and 4.35 xFIP suggests that ERA figure had some luck involved.
That is a similar theme this year as his surface ERA of 2.79 looks impressive, but he also sports an ugly 7.29 FIP given that he is also sporting a sky-high 6.52 BB/9 rate. Walks have been an issue for Hudson in his brief big league career to this point as he posted a 5.93 BB/9 clip out of the bullpen last season.
Hudson hasn’t been able to go deep into ball games yet with his 4.2 innings against the Dodgers his last time out representing a season-high. He allowed six hits and four walks in said outing, but managed to get out of any and all jams with a scoreless effort.
While Hudson has been a little volatile on the season, the same can be said for young Brewers right-hander Freddy Peralta. Peralta hurled eight innings of scoreless baseball to go along with a whopping 11 punchouts in his second start of the season at Cincinnati, however that start has been bookended by a couple of poor outings in which he has allowed a combined 11 earned runs in just 6.1 frames.
The kid has a great arm. He punched out 11.03 batter per nine innings in 14 starts and 16 appearances last season and sports a slightly improved 11.93 K/9 clip this time around. Still, Peralta is dealing with home run issues so far in 2019 with a 1.88 HR/9 rate and clearly, he’s struggled to go deep into games on two of three occasions.
Tuesday: Flaherty (1-0, 2.93 ERA) vs. Woodruff (1-1 6.00 ERA)
Flaherty was excellent in his rookie season in 2018, posting a 3.34 ERA and 3.86 FIP to go along with a hefty 10.85 K/9 rate. It’s been a similar result to begin his 2019 campaign as he’s posted a 2.93 ERA and 3.28 FIP to go along with a similar 10.57 K/9 rate.
Some expected Flaherty to take a step back this season as he benefited from a .257 BABIP against last year, however, Flaherty has displayed pinpoint control (1.76 BB/9) and his excellent slider, used on 28.3% of his pitches, has shone again this season.
We could certainly have the makings of a future ace with the 23-year-old right-hander.
Taking on Flaherty will be young Brewers righty Brandon Woodruff who won a spot in the rotation with a really nice spring. The surface results in the regular season haven’t been ideal with a 6.00 ERA, however, a deeper dive into his work reveals a rock-solid 2.55 FIP and 3.28 xFIP.
The reasoning for the improved peripheral numbers would be a bad-luck .385 BABIP against while he’s stranded just 58.3% of baserunners to this point. Woodruff has been able to rack up the strikeouts this season with a 12.00 K/9 rate and he’s limited walks to the tune of a 2.40 BB/9. That said, his career strikeout rate in the big leagues is 8.88 and he posted an 8.59 K/9 rate as a starter at Triple-A in 2018, so we can expect the strikeouts to cool off in short order.
Wednesday: Wacha (0-0, 5.28 ERA) vs. Burns (0-1, 10.05 ERA)
The injury-prone Wacha pitched just 84.1 innings last season and made 15 starts before missing extended time with an oblique injury.
He was good when healthy, however, as he went 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA in those 15 starts, however he did outpitch his 4.22 FIP and 4.12 xFIP. That said, he’s been good when healthy throughout his big league career as he owns a career 3.80 ERA and 3.74 FIP to go along with a 8.00 K/9 rate.
Wacha has racked up the strikeouts in the early going with a 9.98 K/9, but he’s also struggling big-time with the walks with a 7.63 BB/9 rate. He’s also given up long balls to the tune of 2.35 HR/9, although he’s been bitten by a sky-high 30.8% HR/FB rate.
Facing Wacha in the series finale will be yet another young right-hander, a common theme in this series, in the form of Corbin Burnes.
The hard-throwing 24-year-old averages 94.9 mph on his four-seam fastball this season and uses a slider on 23% of his pitches as he is mostly a fastball/slider pitcher with a sinker, changeup, and curveball mixed in on occasion.
While he’s produced a huge 13.19 K/9 rate in the early going, Burnes has been obliterated by the home run ball with a huge 5./65 HR/9 rate as he’s given up exactly three home runs in each of his three starts on the young season. He’s allowed 16 earned runs in just 14.1 innings and has yet to pitch more than five innings in a start.
Burnes allowed four earned runs on three homers and six hits across five innings against the Cardinals in his first start of the season.
Cardinals vs. Brewers MLB Series Pick
These two offenses are an extremely even match. The Brewers rank 13th with a .334 team wOBA while the Cardinals are just two spots behind at 15th with a similar .329 mark. The same can be said for the power numbers, although the Cardinals have displayed the fourth-best power in the league as measured by ISO (isolated power) with a mark of .211, but the Brewers aren’t too far behind at ninth with a .194 number.
The Brewers have out-homered the Cardinals 27-24 on the season but St. Louis has out-doubled the Brewers 29-22 so far.
Another factor we need to consider are the bullpens. St. Louis has seen nice results from their ‘pen with a 3.14 ERA, good for sixth league-wide. However, their 5.28 FIP checks in at 25th due to a huge 5.34 BB/9 rate.
The Brewers’ bullpen, which was one the best in baseball last season, has been roughly league average to this point with a 4.25 ERA, good for 13th, while their 4.57 ERA checks in at 18th. They are lacking some of the firepower that made them one of the league’s best last season as both Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress are both sidelined at the moment, Knebel for the season due to Tommy John surgery.
As we can see, these two teams are lining up fairly evenly. I can’t exactly pinpoint a notable advantage for either club in two of the three starting pitching matchups, nor can I in terms of offense or bullpen.
I do have more faith in Jack Flaherty in game two of this series. I’m also a lot less confident in the Brewers’ bullpen as Josh Hader seems like the only dominant arm left from last season’s elite group.
AS a result, I’m once again on the underdog here. The Cardinals have a real deep lineup and while the Brewers have the reigning MVP in theirs, I like the length the Cardinals offense brings to the table.
In what could be a real tight series, give me the road underdog again this time around.