Brewers vs. Cardinals MLB Picks, Odds: Back Miles Mikolas, St. Louis to Down Milwaukee (Sunday, May 29)

Brewers vs. Cardinals MLB Picks, Odds: Back Miles Mikolas, St. Louis to Down Milwaukee (Sunday, May 29) article feature image

Al Bello/Getty Images. Pictured: St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Mikes Mikolas chats with umpire John Bacon.

Brewers vs. Cardinals Odds

Brewers Odds-140
Cardinals Odds+115
Time2:15 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The series between the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals hasn't necessarily gone to script, with the underdog winning each of the three meetings heading into Sunday's matchup.

Milwaukee will try to salvage a series split with ace Corbin Burnes getting the start. St. Louis counters with Miles Mikolas, who is pitching as well as he has at any point in his career.

The Cardinals are an underdog for a third consecutive meeting. And while bettors might be tempted to back Burnes as a short favorite, that strategy hasn't worked well in this spot. I'll expand further and detail why St. Louis is worth considering at a plus price.

Milwaukee Brewers

If you have a futures ticket on the Brewers winning the NL Central, I'd be concerned even with a 2.5-game lead in the division. Their Pythagorean expectation suggests they're a bit overvalued despite a 29-18 start to the season. Milwaukee has a +29 run differential which is currently the lowest mark for a division leader. Moreover, St. Louis has a +48 run differential, which could signal some positive regression.

According to FanGraphs, the Brewers' offense is right around league average, given their wRC+ value of 101. And if we examine them over the past 14 days, they have a below-average value of 94. That can put a lot of pressure on the pitching staff, which means contrarian betters can still find value against the Brewers in certain spots.

Fading Burnes isn't for the faint of heart. After all, he's 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. While his advanced numbers point to some regression, his 2.78 xFIP and 3.36 FIP are still more than respectable.

However, if we're being harsh, we could point out that opposing hitters are having better success against him as their barrel rate has more than doubled from 3.1% to 8.6%. That explains why his home runs allowed are up from a 0.38 HR/9 ratio last year to 1.25 HR/9 this season.

And with the under on a 7-1 run in Burnes's previous eight starts, I would argue that he has less margin for error because a home run ends up being the difference in the game.

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St. Louis Cardinals

I was somewhat of a skeptic of Mikolas, so I made it my mission to watch him closely in his last start. The mustache-bearing right-hander was impressive as he allowed four hits in 6 2/3 innings against the Blue Jays. Although Mikolas didn't factor in the decision, the Cardinals still won the game in the tenth inning with a walk-off grand slam home run from Paul Goldschmidt.

This season, Mikolas is 3-2 with a 1.96 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP. And unlike Burnes, he's posting a career-best 0.49 HR/9 ratio. When I previewed his last start, I highlighted Mikolas's uncanny ability to pitch backward using his slider (29.1%) as his dominant pitch.

According to Baseball Savant, opponents are hitting just .177 against the pitch, and FanGraphs estimates it's 5.3 runs above average. Mikolas also features a sinker which he throws 26.6% of the time. Batters are hitting below .200 agains,t the sinker—a career-best 4.2 runs above average. Moreover, Mikolas's sinker could be effective against the Brewers lineup that's 2.5 runs below average against the pitch.

Mikolas's pitch arsenal also includes a traditional four-seamer (18%), a curveball (20.5%), and a changeup (6.2%). He deserves a ton of credit as a starter for his ability to command that five different pitches while allowing fewer than two walks per nine innings.

Thus, it's fair to conclude that his unique style of throwing more off-speed pitches than fastballs certainly works to his benefit.

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Brewers-Cardinals Pick

The Cardinals' run differential could provide the clue as to which team will win the division. It's worth noting that since joining the division in 1998, Milwaukee has never won the NL Central in back-to-back years. I think the Cardinals will be a pest for the Brewers the whole season. And St. Louis is better offensively and won't be intimidated going up against even an ace like Burnes.

I'd be careful backing Burnes as a short favorite. With an opening line of -130 or less, Burnes is just 5-8 for -4.18 units in this spot. Moreover, our Action Labs database shows that he's also 0-4 against St. Louis in this price range.

I think the value lies with the Cardinals as live underdogs, so I'll risk a half unit on them at +115 odds.

Pick: Cardinals ML (+115)

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