Cardinals vs. Braves Odds, Preview, Prediction: Can Drew Smyly Help St. Louis Wake Up? (Saturday, June 19)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Wainwright
*Editor’s note: Saturday’s Cardinals vs. Braves game has been postponed due to inclement weather and will be made up on Sunday as part of a doubleheader, with first pitch set for 2:10 p.m. ET.
Cardinals vs. Braves Odds
|Over/Under||9.5 (-105 / -115)|
|Time||7:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of 11 a.m. ET Saturday and via William Hill.|
Things could not be going much worse for the Cardinals. Just when they thought things were turning around with a sweep of the Marlins, they mustered up just one run against the Braves in back to back games to fall to .500 once again.
Is there any value in backing Adam Wainwright as the stopper here against Drew Smyly, or should we keep riding the wave and fade St. Louis again? Let’s take a look at the matchup.
Cardinals Need Some Kind of Spark…
It’s been a delight to watch Adam Wainwright this season. At age 39, the right-hander is still dealing, and has seemed to take the new crackdown on foreign substances in stride with his highest average spin rate to date in his last start. His curveball has really been working, generating a 30.7% whiff rate and a .194 batting average, and his sinker has induced plenty of soft contact. His 3.95 ERA would be called out by the analytically-savvy baseball fan in years’ past, but Waino’s peripherals (3.74 xERA, 3.92 xFIP) are pretty solid.
Despite this, the Cardinals have gone just 6-7 in Wainwright’s 13 starts, failing to get him much run support. That may be a challenge once again on Saturday with the way this lineup has performed lately. Only the Cubs and the Diamondbacks have a worse wRC+ than the Cardinals over the past two weeks, who have hit .213 over that span with just seven home runs, which tied for last in baseball. It’s not as if that’s the product of bad luck either, considering the Cardinals have made hard contact on just 37.6% of batted ball events.
Narrowing the sample to this past week, starting with the Cardinals’ series-opening win over the Marlins, there are some signs of life. They’ve made contact on 74.5% of swings. Dylan Carlson and Paul Goldschmidt have been good, and Tommy Edman just returned, which should give this team an eventual boost. This team has talent, and it’s shined through in spurts.
…Braves May Provide Spark St. Louis Needs
The Braves have been the perfect foil to the Cardinals. They’ve posted a 119 wRC+ over the past two weeks, and appear to be on the upswing after a rough patch following the loss of Marcell Ozuna. They’ve scored 13 runs in back-to-back games, but if there’s one area to nitpick here it’s the contact department, where they’re 22nd over that 14-day span. They’ve gotten by thanks to a beefy 10.9% walk rate, and home runs have helped them in recent days.
With a guy on the hill for the Cardinals who strikes out hitters at a league-average clip, leaning on his sinker to get soft contact, this matchup might not be the best for Atlanta. The Braves have mashed fastballs all year long, but they’re 17th in weighted runs per 100 sinkers. I expect a junkballer to frustrate these hitters, and for Wainwright to lean on that sinking fastball more often.
It’s going to be an adventure for the Braves with Drew Smyly on the hill, who has ranked among the worst pitchers in the game in expected slugging percentage, and in the bottom 15% of the league in hard-hit rate and barrel rate. He’s been torched by just about every team in the NL, including bad ones like the Diamondbacks. He hasn’t struck anyone out, in a juxtaposition to his season last year, which has made his affinity for allowing hard contact a much greater issue.
Cardinals vs. Braves Pick
Wainwright has the arsenal to slow the Braves’ roll here, and I think that in combination with a poor start from Smyly should be enough here to make Atlanta a fade. If there were ever a get-right spot for this slumbering Cardinals offense, it’s against Smyly. Not only will he fail to miss bats, which has kept St. Louis down lately, the Cardinals also rank eighth in the bigs against lefties, judging by wRC+.
It’s hard to stomach with the way they’ve hit lately, but the Cardinals are the play here.
Pick: Cardinals ML (+105)