Sunday Night Baseball Betting Preview: Can Cardinals Finally Get a Series Win?
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Harrison Bader
- The Cardinals and Braves are going in opposite directions heading into their matchup on Sunday Night Baseball.
- Our MLB crew breaks down the pitching matchups, trends and more for this National League showdown.
Betting odds: Atlanta Braves at St. Louis Cardinals
- Braves odds: -133
- Cardinals odds: +123
- Over/Under: 10
- Probable starters: Julio Teheran (3-4, 3.67 ERA) vs. Jack Flaherty (4-3, 4.19 ERA)
- First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET on ESPN
It has been a rough month for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Redbirds have gone just 7-15 since May 1 and have lost each of their past six series. As a result, they’ve dropped to fourth place in the NL Central — 4.5 games back of the first-place Cubs.
On the other hand, the Braves will be sad to see May come to an end. Atlanta boasts a 15-9 record this month and is seeking its fifth-straight series win tonight. The Braves only trail the first-place Phillies by 2.5 games in the NL East.
Let’s take a closer look at tonight’s rubber in the Arch City. Our MLB crew will focus on the starters, bullpen and the man behind the plate. We’ll also touch on a few noteworthy trends and close with a few rapid fire betting looks.
>> All odds as of 1:30 p.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time MLB odds and track your bets
Scouting the Starters
Despite a 3.94 ERA in 2018, and a 3.67 ERA thus far in 2019, fielding independent pitching metrics show that Julio Tehern has been a below-average starter for the past three years.
Going backwards from this season, Teheran has pitched to FIP markers of 4.29, 4.83, and 4.95, with xFIP markers of 4.59, 4.72, and 4.96. His batted ball data has been equally instructive, showing an xwOBA of .323 in 2019 and .322 in 2018, suggesting an expected ERA of over 4.65.
Teheran faced the Cardinals 10 days ago on May 16, pitching five shutout innings (4 BB, 4 K) in a 10-2 win.
Meanwhile, Jack Flaherthy owns a 3.74 xFIP over his first 44 career starts (3.93 in 2019), while recording an impressive 10.35 strikeouts per nine innings.
Flaherty throws his two fastballs and slider over 83% of the time, while occasionally mixing in a curveball and changeup.
Those fastballs and his slider had a combined pitch value of +20.4 in 2018, Amongst pitchers who threw at least 150 innings, Flaherty ranked 10th by fastball value, 25th by slider value and 30th by curveball value on a per-pitch basis.
He finished 2018 with a .279 xwOBA, equivalent to an ERA of under 3.50, but has pitched to a .305 xwOBA, or a 4.15 expected ERA in 2019.
Flaherty faced the Braves on May 14, throwing a quality start (6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 5 BB, 6 K) in a 14-3 win.
If you look at a lot of the numbers, these two bullpens have been very average this season.
The Braves appear to have found their closer in Luke Jackson, whose underlying metrics are extremely promising. He’s using his slider a lot more frequently this year and the results show that has been the right decision.
However, the rest of the bullpen leading up to Jackson is littered with question marks. Atlanta had to release Jonny Venters, who had numerous Tommy John surgeries. They brought up Jerry Blevins in his place. Yikes.
Nobody else in that bullpen really scares opposing hitters — although moving Sean Newcomb to the pen may help. The southpaw has been excellent in limited duty as a reliever so far.
Regardless, the bullpen as a whole remains the Braves weakest area — and could ultimately hold them back from a spot in the postseason.
The Cardinals have more talent in their pen, led by closer Jordan Hicks, who is absolutely filthy when on. John Gant has also been excellent in the bullpen.
However, how good this unit can be comes down to Andrew Miller, who’s been extremely disappointing since arriving in St. Louis this season.
Look no further than his 2.41 HR//9 and 4.82 BB/9 measures. The lefty just might not have anything left in his arm. If he does and he can get back to the Andrew Miller of old, the Cardinals pen has a lot of potential.
If not, they will likely need to add another elite arm if they want any chance of winning the competitive NL Central.
Betting on Blue
Umpire Hunter Wendelstedt comes in with an under record of 217-197 (52.4% 9.66 units). His runs per game average sits at 8.6. The wind is blowing out to centerfield at Busch at around 5 mph, which should not play much of a factor. — Collin Wilson
Both the Braves and Cardinals enter Sunday Night Baseball above .500 on the season. Since 2005, the home team is 128-79 (61.8%) in this situation on Sunday Nigh Baseball. Over the past three seasons, they are 22-9 (71%), winning by an average of 1.7 runs per game. — Evan Abrams
Recent Pitching Form: In the month of May, Teheran has not allowed more than one run or three hits in four appearances. Teheran is 1-0 with a 0.79 ERA in those starts. Flaherty has also made four starts for the Cards this month, but has gone 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA.— John Ewing
In Teheran’s career as a starter, he is 44-38-21 (53.7%) in the first five innings moneyline when listed as the underdog, the second-most profitable starting pitcher in this spot since 2008-09. — Evan Abrams
Rapid Fire Favorite Bets
- I would look under here but with the market steaming the total up, I am content to see if a 9.5 pops. — Collin Wilson
- At the opening number (-125) I would have shown a small edge on the Cardinals moneyline. After 25 cents of steam (to -150), I no longer see actionable value, but St. Louis does appear to be the correct side. PASS. — Sean Zerillo
- Cardinals or nothing. — Stuckey