MLB Odds, Picks for Cardinals vs Rays: How to Bet Lars Nootbaar, Paul Goldschmidt
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images. Pictured: Lars Nootbaar (Cardinals)
Cardinals vs Rays Odds
Thursday's rubber match between the Cardinals and Rays will feature a high total of 9.5, as Matthew Liberatore (6.93 ERA, 37 2/3 IP) will match up versus Zack Littell (4.04 ERA, 35 2/3 IP).
Littell has pitched to a 1.64 ERA in rare usage as a starter across his last two outings versus Detroit and Houston.
Despite a record of 50-65, the Cardinals have produced the 12th-most runs in the league this season, with the sixth-highest OPS in MLB. Their offensive play has been excellent over the last month, with the sixth-best wRC+ in the league at 117.
The play of 25-year-old Lars Nootbaar continues to be a positive in a lost season for the Cards. Since the All-Star break, Nootbaar has a .616 SLG with an OPS of 1.043 across 103 PA's. His expected rates have spiked considerably over the last 100 PA's and his xwOBA now sits in the 83rd percentile.
Nootbaar has been particularly strong versus right-handed pitching. He's slugged to a .485 across 279 PA's this season. He's batted .406 versus fastballs from righties, which is the second-best mark in the league among batters with over 160 PA's.
Paul Goldschmidt has also feasted on right-handed pitching, with a .468 SLG rate and .835 OPS. He's hit Littell well historically, with five hits in six at-bats, including a homer.
As injuries continue to mount in the Rays' once-dominant rotation, Littell is being used as a starter and will ideally throw six or more in this matchup.
As with many things of this nature involving the Rays, the move has worked out so far.
Littell has thrown 11 innings and allowed just two earned runs over his last two outings, including six strong scoreless innings versus Detroit on Friday. He did allow 10 hard-hit balls in that matchup versus the lowly Tigers, however, and the argument that his stuff won't play as well as a starter still remains.
He owns a Stuff+ rating of 95 this season and has seen a slight dip in velocity over the back half. Littell's fastball velocity averaged below 94 versus Detroit.
He's allowed a 51.3% hard-hit rate this season across all splits. Left-handed batters have slugged .422, while righties own a .439 slug-rate.
Since the start of last season, Littell has allowed a SLG rate of .459. He's allowed a .525 SLG versus his fastball specifically, which in theory should play worse to batters receiving multiple at-bats over a large sample.
Cardinals vs Rays
Betting Pick & Prediction
This matchup should feature a lot of action — with a plethora of extra-base hits — and could likely surpass its high total of 9.5.
Littell hasn't proven enough over his two recent outings as a starter for me to want to get involved with Tampa at -180 versus a St. Louis offense that continues to be quietly dominant.
Both Goldschmidt and Nootbaar are great candidates to record extra-base hits off of Littell and could end up receiving five at-bats in this matchup.
The fact that Littell is not overly likely to walk either is also a positive, as total base bets can be undone in that fashion.
Nootbaar is priced at +125 to record over 1.5 total bases in this matchup and Goldschmidt is priced at +115. Splitting a unit between the two and looking to profit small on a split is my favorite way to bet this matchup.
Betting Littell to allow over two earned runs at anything better than -115 is also playable.