If there has been one team just twiddling their thumbs around, waiting for the postseason to start, it has to be the St. Louis Cardinals. We knew early on that the Cards were going to be in the postseason and have a high seed. Months later nothing has changed with them. The only wrench that was thrown into their season was with injury to Adam Wainwright. People were cautious on making predictions on the Cardinals following the injury, but it didn’t take long to discover that the Cards would survive. Michael Wacha stepped up to provide the Cardinals with a reliable number 1 option. Even before this season it looked like he was a pitcher that could handle that role and he has proven it this year. I should note, though, his most recent starts haven’t been the most Wacha like. When a guy like him has a porous start, there is some head turning going on. Not the time to hit the panic button on him yet, but if he is in a state of flux in the postseason, there is reason to be concerned.
Even the best players, in every sport, hit a rough patch ever so often. It isn’t best to just write them off due to it, but you do expect flawless performances out of them all the time, which isn’t realistic. That is like asking a sports handicapper to hit 100% of their picks, it’s not going to happen. My expectations out of Wacha are high, but this is the time to hit that rough patch. You want it out of the way before the postseason arrives. The Cardinals are already in a great spot despite a couple of rough Wacha starts.
They are going to need him dearly in a few weeks, though. That is when the regular season records are wiped clean, and all it comes down to is beating the team in front of you. And regardless of how well the Cards have played in the regular season, it won’t mean anything without a World Series. Remember, they won’t have home field advantage in the World Series, if they make it, because the National League lost the right to host it by losing in the All-Star Game. This is important to note, which I will get into below.
Milwaukee Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals
Taylor Jungmann (9-6, 3.31 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (16-6, 3.08)
It has been the norm to see Wacha with a sub-3.00 ERA, but due to some recent starts, he has been bumped over that mark. Seeing a 7.20 ERA next to his name is just ludicrous, but that is what we have here. Wacha’s posted the 7.20 ERA to go along with a 1.73 WHIP and .386 OBA. Wacha, is that you? Like I said though, most pitchers hit these kind of ruts. And like I said, the Cardinals are going to miss out on getting home field advantage if they make the World Series. They’ve been a beast at home, compiling a record of 53-24 at home. While Wacha hasn’t been all that good, they are currently on a four game win streak and are 8-2 in their last ten games. That has basically been how it’s gone for the Cardinals all season long, a lot of games going in their favor.
This could be one of those games Wacha needs. Sometimes a bad team will come along and provide a way to get out of that rut, building some momentum and putting the bad starts in the past. The Brewers are one of those teams. They are fighting to avoid the worst record in the majors and have a guy struggling on the mound as well. Jungmann holds a 9.20 ERA in his previous three starts, along with a 1.70 WHIP and .362 OBA. Not far off from Wacha. But I trust Wacha to bounce back and not Jungmann. I expect him to look good against the Brewers’ lineup. Further, backing the best home team in the majors isn’t a bad idea either. I don’t go big betting any of these late season games. Too many variables to account for. The market is dominated by big favorites. I think this is one bigger favorite that takes a comfortable win today, though.
PICK: CARDINALS -1.5 (+120)