It was a tough go last night as I had the over between the Pirates and Cardinals but unfortunately neither offense could get anything going.
The Pirates scored just two runs, but that was enough to earn the win as the Cardinals were shutout by Cody Ponce and the Pirates bullpen. It was wildly disappointing from the Cardinals offense as Ponce has been on the Pirates’ alternate site for some time while the Pirates bullpen has a 26th-ranked ERA heading into that one, but they just couldn’t get the sticks going in game two of that double-header.
Nonetheless, we’ll take our lumps and move onto tonight’s busy MLB schedule!
Season Record: 15-9
Now let’s take a look at this free MLB pick featuring the Indians vs. Cardinals from St. Louis!
Indians vs. Cardinals Betting Odds
- Indians (-130)
- Cardinals (+120)
- Indians -1.5 (+115)
- Cardinals +1.5 (-135)
- Over 9 (+105)
- Under 9 (-125)
Indians vs. Cardinals MLB Pick Breakdown
The Indians will send 23-year-old Triston McKenzie to the mound for this one as the young, hard-throwing right-hander makes his second career start in this one.
In his first start, McKenzie dazzled with six innings of one-run ball to go along with 10 strikeouts against just one walk in a victory over the Tigers last Saturday.
Listed at 6’5″ but just 160 pounds, don’t let the slim build fool you. McKenzie averaged 94.9 mph on his four-seam fastball in that outing while he also utilized a cutter, changeup and slider to keep Tigers hitters off balance for most of the night.
McKenzie pitched at Double-A last season and worked to a 2.68 ERA/3.62 FIP while displaying quality command in the form of a 2.78 BB/9 and kept the ball in the yard at a nice 0.79 HR/9 clip.
A former competitive balance selection, McKenzie is the latest young Indians pitcher to make an immediate big-league impact.
He’s five years older than McKenzie, but Cardinals right-hander Daniel Ponce de Leon isn’t all that experience at the big-league level, either.
The 28-year-old has struggled this season to the tune of a 5.25 ERA/6.57 FIP with a 4.96 SIERA in his 12 innings of work between three starts and a relief appearance.
While he’s racked up strikeouts at an impressive 12.75 K/9 in that small sample, he’s had major command issues with a 7.50 BB/9, continuing a downward trend that began last season with a 4.81 BB/9 in 48.2 big-league frames and a 4.59 BB/9 across 84.1 Triple-A innings.
Aside from the walks, his big-league numbers aren’t too bad as he’s worked to a 3.45 ERA/4.31 FIP with a 9.61 K/9 and 1.06 HR/9 in 93.2 MLB innings, but his 4.56 career SIERA is a full run above his ERA, so perhaps we’re starting to see the regression kick in at this point.
It’s good the Indians own one of the top pitching staffs in baseball as their offense has largely scuffled.
Against right-handed pitching, the Indians are tied for 21st with a .312 wOBA, but they’ve largely struggled to generate power against righties with a 26th-ranked .136 ISO against them.
Things have perked up a bit lately, however, as the Tribe have posted an eighth-ranked .344 wOBA over the last week, but once again the power hasn’t been consistently present with a 16th-ranked .153 ISO in that time.
After a huge bounce back in the second half of last season, Jose Ramirez has been extremely inconsistent this season, especially against right-handed pitching while Francisco Lindor has also stumbled against righties for the most part.
Additionally, the Indians are getting almost zero production from their outfielders this season as their .254 outfielders’ wOBA ranks 29th, ahead of only the lowly Pirates and their .237 mark in that area.
As noted in the opening, the Cardinals stunk the joint out in game two of their double-header with the Pirates yesterday and didn’t exactly tear the cover off the ball in game one, dropping that one by a 4-3 count.
Generating just three runs against that Pirates staff is almost embarrassing as they look to get things turned around tonight, but it will be tough against McKenzie and the Indians’ bullpen (more on them in a minute).
Against right-handers, the Cardinals sit 14th with a .321 wOBA, however like the Indians, the power isn’t there as their .134 ISO against righties checks in at 27th, one spot behind Cleveland.
That’s not the only similarity here as the Cardinals were also hot before last night’s double-header as they rank seventh with a .345 wOBA over the last week, but also with little power in that time by way of their 24th-ranked .131 ISO over that stretch.
It’s clear, however, that the Cardinals’ offense was cooled off just 24 hours ago.
For the second consecutive season, the Indians’ bullpen is doing damage.
They enter this one with the MLB’s third-ranked bullpen by way of their 2.57 ERA on the season, but they also sit first with a 2.96 FIP and fifth with a 2.0 fWAR.
That said, their fWAR number is hurt by the fact that they have thrown just 94.2 innings on the season thanks to their elite rotation that consistently gets deep into ball games.
Closer Brad Hand has been excellent once again, but the story of the Indians’ bullpen is right-hander James Karinchak who owns a devastating 0.54 ERA/0.51 FIP with a monster 16.74 K/9 in his 16.2 innings of work.
The 24-year-old has simply outmatched the opposition with a fastball that sits at 95.9 mph on average, but more worrisome for hitters as been his knee-buckling curveball from his over-the-top delivery.
The Cardinals placed left-hander Andrew Miller on the IL yesterday, losing one of their better back-end relievers in the process.
As a group, they’ve been good with a 3.54 ERA – good for sixth league wide – but regression looms.
The Cardinals also rank 19th with a 4.57 FIP and 4.63 xFIP while their 4.36 BB/9 could use some work. Additionally, they are allowing just a .202 batting average on balls in play, a number that is sure to rise moving forward.
While they’ve done yeoman’s work to this point, it would seem there’s some notable regression on the horizon for this group.
Indians vs. Cardinals MLB Pick
Triston McKenzie’s MLB debut came at the expense of a Detroit Tigers offense that has largely struggled against right-handed pitching, especially with strikeouts, but man did McKenzie look impressive in that one.
He fired plenty of first-pitch strikes and worked ahead in the count for most of the night and showed plenty of pose and zero nerves on the bump.
Of course, McKenzie will be backed by one of, if not the best bullpen in baseball in this one.
On the other side, you have a pitcher in Ponce de Leon who is perhaps seeing some regression start to kick in while the Cardinals’ bullpen is sure to regress moving forward.
The offense for both sides doesn’t factor in much, but if the Cardinals had a tough time in scoring just three runs in 14 innings against the Pirates pitching staff yesterday, they are in for a much more difficult task today.
At the end of the day, I’ll look to ride McKenzie and that lights-out Indians bullpen to a moneyline victory in this one.