Friday MLB Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for Cardinals vs. Reds: Will Cincinnati Start Second Half with Upset?

Friday MLB Betting Odds, Picks, Predictions for Cardinals vs. Reds: Will Cincinnati Start Second Half with Upset? article feature image

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Pictured: Graham Ashcraft.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals travel to Cincinnati to open the second half against the Reds.
  • Graham Ashcraft gets the ball for the Reds and should be able to have some success against the Cardinals lineup.
  • D.J. James explains why he's backing the underdog below.

Cardinals vs. Reds Odds

Cardinals Odds-146
Reds Odds+124
Time6:40 p.m. ET
Odds updated as of Friday afternoon via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

Adam Wainwright is the likely starter for the St. Louis Cardinals as they begin the second half of the season on the road in Cincinnati against Graham Ashcraft and the Reds. Wainwright has been extremely fortunate this season, carrying a 3.00 ERA and a 4.34 xERA along with him. Meanwhile, Ashcraft has been better, peripherally, with a 4.45 ERA and a 3.83 xERA.

Ashcraft thrives in not allowing hard contact. He ranks in the 90th percentile in Average Exit Velocity at 86.4 mph. Wainwright comes in at 88.8 mph, which is in the top half of MLB. The issue for Wainwright is his inability to get strikeouts. Ashcraft struggles in that same regard, but he walks batters less often and allows fewer barrels.

Since the discrepancy between both of these lineups lately is negligible, sprinkling money on the Reds moneyline looks to be the right play with Ashcraft on the bump.

The only hindrance to this will be the Cincinnati bullpen.

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St. Louis Cardinals: Is Regression Coming For Pitching Staff?

Wainwright has been one of the most consistent arms in the storied history of the St. Louis Cardinals. He is at the tailend of his career and it will eventually show this season. His xBA is .261 with a xSLG of .416. These both rank in the lower 33% of MLB.

Now, the Reds do have five bats with a xwOBA above .330 over the course of the past month off of right-handed pitching. Nick Senzel, Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas follow shortly thereafter with a .300+ xwOBA, so Cincinnati has enough bats to string together battles against Wainwright and drive his pitch count up.

The Reds will be without Jake Fraley, Albert Almora, Jr., Aristedes Aquino and Aramis Garcia, but the lineup should not fall off too much without those players.

The Cardinals' bullpen has been in the top-10 in xFIP-wise since June 22 (3.64). Drew VerHagen is on the Injured List. The Cardinals do have four relievers over the 4.00 mark, though, so this is a bit of a façade. If the Reds can get to the bullpen early, they will have a chance to strike against St. Louis’ weaker relief corps.

Cincinnati Reds: Will Ashcraft Go Deep In This Game?

Ashcraft only strikes out 13.3% of hitters. This should at least be able to provide him longevity in this outing, negating the bullpen’s impact on this game. Yadier Molina, Harrison Bader and Juan Yepez are unavailable, but the rest of the Cardinals cast is healthy. St. Louis has four hitters above a .330 xwOBA, so the edge should go to the Reds. That said, they have a few others close, so the lineup difference between these two teams is miniscule off of rightes in the past month.

The Reds bullpen is the concerning piece of this handicap. They own an MLB-worst 4.67 xFIP and they have a litany of injuries. They have four relievers with a 4.00+ xFIP. The difference between bullpens is far smaller than the overall team numbers will say. Yes, the weaker parts of the Reds' bullpen are far weaker than the Cardinals’, but they should have enough arms behind a strong start from Ashcraft.

Cardinals-Reds Pick

Cincinnati is undervalued coming into this game. They have the better starting pitcher on the bump with enough viable relief arms coming in relief, barring anything unforeseen. Both lineups are about even, so the angle in this game goes to the better starting pitcher.

Look for Ashcraft to hold the Cardinals' lineup in check. Take the Reds from +124 and play them to -110. They could even be slight favorites.

Pick: Cincinnati Reds +124 | play to -110

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