Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Brewers vs. Cardinals: How to Bet Lopsided Pitching Matchup (August 19)
Quinn Harris/Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Woodruff.
- The Milwaukee Brewers look to complete a sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals tonight at 7:45 p.m. ET.
- The Brewers will send Brandon Woodruff to the mound, while the Cardinals counter with Jon Lester, who has been having a rough season to this point.
- Kenny Ducey breaks down this lopsided pitching matchup below and explains how to bet it.
Brewers vs. Cardinals Odds
|Time||7:45 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Thursday morning and via DraftKings.|
After a couple of nail-biters, the Brewers and Cardinals will go at it again in St. Louis one more time before both teams head east and go their separate ways.
Milwaukee should once again have the edge in the pitching matchup, though this one may be a wider gap than in nights’ past.
Is it as easy as firing up the Brewers again as they go for the sweep of their rivals, or is the price simply not right? Let’s have a look at the matchup.
Brewers Seeing Improvement
We’ve touched on it extensively, but the difference from the first half of the season to the second half has been nothing short of staggering.
A combination of mid-season acquisitions like Willy Adames and Eduardo Escobar combined with the offensive renaissance of Jace Peterson and Luis Urias has pushed this team right to the front of the pack in the National League.
After ranking 27th with an 87 wRC+ in the first half of the season and striking out 25.9% of the time, the Brewers now hold posted the fifth-best wRC+ in all of baseball since the break, with a low 20.4% strikeout rate.
That dip in strikeout rate, naturally, has been a result of more contact hitting. Milwaukee’s 77.7% contact rate in the second half is a number that’s close to elite, putting it comfortably inside the top 10.
That’s a stark contrast to the 73.9% mark it saw in the first half. It’s very hard to get these Brewers out, and it seems impossible to win on nights like Wednesday when teams do a solid job of keeping traffic off the basepaths and still lose the lead on a few solo homers.
The pitching is still as strong as ever for Milwaukee, which will throw perhaps its new best pitcher, Brandon Woodruff, in this one.
He stumbled a bit in July, posting a 3.56 ERA (a mark most guys would love to have) but has allowed just one earned run in his last two starts, spanning nine innings.
Walks have been a bit of an issue for Woodruff this year, but St. Louis is just 15th in that department since the break.
Can Lester Get the Job Done?
The Cardinals had won 8-of-9 entering this series, though those wins came over Kansas City and Pittsburgh. As a result, the offensive numbers aren’t so shiny, considering a monumental performance at the dish isn’t required to win series against those teams.
Over the last couple of weeks, the Cardinals own a .775 OPS, which is good but still outside the top 10 in the league over that span. A .168 ISO is still rather pedestrian, and a 22% strikeout rate says this team is still struggling in that department.
Speaking of struggling, Jon Lester will take the bump on Thursday for the Cardinals. He’s been somewhat of a nightmare all year, pitching to a 5.20 xERA and striking out a poor 14.2% of hitters, though his last outing against the Royals didn’t go so badly; the grizzled lefty went 5.2, allowing seven hits but just one earned run.
Lester’s inability to strike batters out and limit quality contact (39.2% hard-hit rate) is going to work in chorus with the Brewers’ renewed contact approach here and make for a tall task.
In addition, Milwaukee ranks just 15th in ground-ball rate for the season, making it very difficult to pitch to contact against this team.
The pitching matchup here should work in the Brewers’ favor.
Woodruff’s elite 31% hard-hit rate should help him neutralize the few big home run threats on the Cardinals, and his strikeout rate — which is nearing 30% on the year — is dangerous for an offense that has had a bout with punchouts this season.
I just don’t see how the Cardinals will consistently get runners on base here with an offense that’s looked lethargic and fallen flat on its face since coming home with a world of momentum.
Even when this team was winning, it wasn’t blowing opponents out of the water with an onslaught at the plate. It was the pitching staff that carried the freight. Lester’s just not that guy.
With both bullpens taxed, there’s potential for a twist ending in this one. I’m going to focus on the pitching matchup, which might be one of the most lopsided you’ll see between two playoff-hopeful teams.
The line doesn’t indicate just how far apart these two are.
Pick: Brewers First Five -0.5 (-140)