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Cardinals vs. Brewers Odds, Pick, Prediction: St. Louis Eyes Key Series Win (June 23)

Cardinals vs. Brewers Odds, Pick, Prediction: St. Louis Eyes Key Series Win (June 23) article feature image

Mary DeCicco & Caitlin O’Hara/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured from left: Dakota Hudson #43 of the St. Louis Cardinals and Jason Alexander #79 of the Milwaukee Brewers.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals (-105) and Milwaukee Brewers (-115) renew their regular-season series on Thursday at 2:10 p.m. ET.
  • Today's matchup between NL Central rivals also features a battle between sinkerballers as Dakota Hudson and Jason Alexander take the mound.
  • MLB betting analyst Doug Ziefel previews Cardinals vs. Brewers, including updated odds, picks and predictions for today's game.

Cardinals vs. Brewers Odds

Cardinals Odds-105
Brewers Odds-115
Over/Under9.5 (-105 / -115)
Time2:10 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

The St. Louis Cardinals took control of this four-game set with a 5-4 victory on Wednesday night. Propelled by a big performance from Nolan Arenado, St. Louis heads into Thursday’s game with looking to close out this critical NL Central series.

To do that, the Cardinals will hand the ball to Dakota Hudson. The sinkerballer enters Thursday’s starting appearance with a 5-3 record and 3.31 ERA. Hudson has had a tremendous year despite all of his underlying numbers being on the wrong end of the spectrum.

Another sinkerballer, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jason Alexander, will oppose Hudson. Alexander has compiled a 2.42 ERA in four career starts, but the stout Cardinals offense will be his most formidable opponent yet.

Will we finally witness either of these sinkerballers regress, or will they match each other groundball-for-groundball? Let’s take a closer look and find out.

Expect Soft Contact from the Cardinals

I have broken down a few of Dakota Hudson’s starts this season and  have constantly faded him, because he has given up too much hard contact to sustain success.

Well, Hudson has proven me and the Statcast data wrong. The same goes for Jason Alexander.

Alexander’s underlying metrics look just as bad, with an Expected Batting Average (xBA) in the bottom 1% and Expected ERA (xERA) in the bottom 12% of all qualified pitchers. However, none of that matters, because those metrics are counteracted by his top-10% barrel rate.

What does this all mean for these sinkerballers? Put simply: It doesn’t even matter how hard the ball is hit; if it’s on the ground, it is more likely to find a glove.

Since being called up by the Brewers, Alexander has done a tremendous job of churning up groundballs and boasts an elite 56% groundball rate.

Meanwhile, St. Louis is not typically a team that hits the ball on the ground at a high frequency. The Cardinals rank 24th in team groundball rate, but their metrics don’t imply that they will be able to lift the ball all that often.

Only Paul Goldschmidt has an above-average exit velocity and hard-hit rate. The rest of the lineup — including Nolan Arenado, Tommy Edman and Brendan Donavan — has not made consistent solid contact this season.

So, it should be no surprise to see many of the Cardinals’ at-bats result in groundouts.

Another Tightrope Act From Hudson?

These sinkerballers specialize in defying Statcast data, and there is no better exemplar than Dakota Hudson. The Cardinals pitcher enters this start with nearly every underlying statistic in a shade of blue. However, like Alexander, he’s in the top 20% in barrel rate.

During his only other full season in 2019, Hudson produced similar expected metrics, including a 5.09 xERA versus an actual ERA of 3.35. That trend has persisted throughout the current season, in which Hudson reports a 3.31 ERA that data tells us should be closer to 4.48.

There are a few other concerns for Hudson — for instance, his walk rate ranks among the bottom 20% of MLB — but the groundball has been his savior. Hudson’s groundball rate is nearly 58%. Those groundballs have enabled him to generate multiple clean innings and work out of tight jams when his command fails him.

Also like Alexander, he will be facing a club that has put the ball on the ground quite a bit this season. The Brewers have the 17th-highest team groundball rate in the majors. With only a handful of Brewers batters creating hard contact, their outlook is disconcerting — especially when contrasted with Hudson’s elite groundball rate.

Cardinals-Brewers Pick

This matchup is a rare occasion with two sinkerballers squaring off against one another. Their styles make this angle very straightforward. Both pitchers possess an elite ability to produce groundballs, and neither will be facing a lineup that is particularly adept at getting the ball in the air.

Expect this game to fly by as each starter racks up groundballs and many outs in the process. Take the under 9.5.

Pick:  Under 9.5 (Play to 9).

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