Giants vs. Cardinals Odds, Pick & Preview: Will Wainwright Outduel Rodon?(May 15)

Giants vs. Cardinals Odds, Pick & Preview: Will Wainwright Outduel Rodon?(May 15) article feature image

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Wainwright.

  • It's the San Francisco Giants vs. the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday Night Baseball.
  • Carlos Rodon against Adam Wainwright is a great pitching matchup, so which team has the edge?
  • Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup below.

Giants vs. Cardinals Odds

Giants Odds-155
Cardinals Odds+125
Time7:08 p.m. ET
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute MLB odds here.

We get another treat of a baseball game Sunday Night on ESPN.

The Giants haven't skipped a beat, storming out to a 20-12 record on the season with the league's best starting pitching staff. They're locked into an impossibly tough divisional race, but the Giants are an immensely talented team.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals are overachieving in the early going. At 17-15, they're holding serve in National League Central race, staying within striking distance of Milwaukee (2.5 games back).

These two split the matchups on Friday and Saturday, so both will be hunting a series win in the rubber match.

Who's got the edge?

San Francisco Giants: Wade Jr. Trending Up

At first glance, this Giants lineup doesn't look too daunting. Only three of the regulars have posted an OPS+ above 100.

But the Giants' strength is their depth. We know about utility man Darin Ruf, who's walked 17 times in 31 games, but don't forget about outfielders Luis Gonzales (127 OPS+) and Austin Slater (148 OPS+).

LaMonte Wade Jr. started the season hurt, but has been a weapon in limited appearances. He's gotten on base in half his at-bats and has an OPS above 1.000, although he's only smashed two extra-base hits and one home run. However, he has an average exit velocity of 98 mph, so expect more extra-base hits for him going forward.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

So, when the Giants have to plug-and-play, their replacement players aren't replacement level. And Gabe Kapler is one of the best game managers in baseball.

In my opinion, there isn't a better group of pitching coaches than the ones in San Francisco. The way they turned Kevin Gausman's career around was staggering and Carlos Rodon — Sunday's starter — looks like a stud in his first stint out west.

The Giants currently lead MLB in starting pitching FIP (2.83) and are third in relief FIP (3.09). They've won four of their past five games while holding three of those opponents under three runs.

Let's talk about their ace more.

Starting pitcher: Carlos Rodon (LHP)

In 34 lifetime plate appearances against current Cardinals hitters, Rodon has allowed just four hits with a 9:1 K/BB ratio. Two of those hits were home runs (Albert Pujols, Tommy Edman), but Giants fans should feel pretty confident entering this one.

What's scary is he's better now than he's ever been.

His 1.22 FIP and 2.10 xERA would be career lows by a mile over a full season and he's striking out a whopping 40% of the batters he faced. He also hasn't allowed a home run yet this year and has thrown 35 innings over six starts (5 2/3 per start on average).

Rodon ditched his sinker back in 2019 and has developed a curve in the past year (although he throws it just 6% of the time). He's also throwing the four-seam more than ever (64.3% of the time) and is throwing it harder than ever.

Rodon has picked up a full five ticks on his four-seam over the past three seasons (96.3 mph this season) and it has much more play on it now. It now has 1.3 inches of rise over the average fastball (up from .4 last season).

Image credit: Baseball Savant

Rodon would project out well as a shutdown reliever or closer given his ridiculous fastball and simple-but-effective three-pitch mix. Instead, the Giants are lucky enough to have someone with that profile who can give toss six shutdown innings every five days and provide an 80% chance to win the game. The Giants are 5-1 in his starts this year.

St. Louis Cardinals: Redbirds Have Mashed Lefties

And lucky for St. Louis, the Redbirds love smashing southpaws.

No team has a higher wRC+ against lefties in 2022 than the Cardinals (131). They're also striking out against lefties only about 20% of the time (fourth-best in MLB) and have an ISO north of .200.

The Cardinals are a heavy right-handed lineup with just one full-time lefty in the starting nine (Brendan Donovan) alongside two switch-hitters (Tommy Edman, Dylan Carlson). There's also just one lefty on the bench for St. Louis. So, it makes sense that the Cards would dominate southpaws.

Surprisingly, Arenado has hit slightly better against righties this season. But that's only by average and historically he has typical platoon splits. Plus, he's so good it doesn't even matter.

Image credit: FanGraphs

Only four players have accrued more fWAR than his 2.0 this season. Arenado is making a legitimate MVP push and is becoming the guy St. Louis envision when it signed him to that monster contract.

Yadier Molina is having a tough year in the batter's box (51 OPS+), but Paul Goldschmidt continues to rake (146 OPS+, .388 OBP) and Edman is having a very underrated season (134 OPS+, 18:15 K/BB ratio).

The pitching staff is a huge concern in my opinion and giving a $44-million contract to Steven Matz never sat well with me. Oliver Marmol will likely manage the bullpen better than Mike Shildt did, but I don't love this relief staff outside of Giovonny Gallegos.

However, none of that matters because the Cardinals' stud is on the mound Sunday.

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Starting pitcher: Adam Wainwright (RHP)

Every time I think of Adam Wainwright, I think about how he was drafted in the same year as Tom Brady. He hasn't had quite the career Brady has had, but it's been as successful as any pitcher this century.

Wainwright was the Cardinals' savior last year and he's on pace to be similarly successful this season. The Cards are only 3-3 in Wainwright's starts, but that should turn around considering they were 22-10 in his starts last year.

Wainwright has picked up 0.5 fWAR through his first six starts, tossing 34 innings and slightly lowering his statistics from 2021 (3.18 ERA, 3.59 xERA, 3.40 FIP, 3.62 xFIP).

I don't see Wainwright regressing one way or the other. His .299 BABIP is right in line with the league average and his 7.41 K/9 rate is typical for him. He's walking more guys than usual (3.44 BB/9) and allowing fewer home runs (8% HR/FB rate), but there's nothing that pops off the page.

What you see is what you get with Wainwright. And what you see is pretty awesome.

Adam Wainwright is just a regular dude. So awesome

— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) November 18, 2021

Giants-Cardinals Pick

Fellow Action Network Analyst Collin Wilson projects San Francisco at -127 on the full game moneyline tomorrow. However, the Giants are hovering around -150 across the markets.

I tend to agree and think the Cardinals are slightly undervalued in this one.

Rodon is amazing, but Wainwright is consistently underrated by both the betting market and baseball fans. Yeah, he's old, but he's not slowing down a bit. Wainwright gives you as good a chance to win as anyone.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have the advantage with a lefty on the mound. This team mashes southpaws and that gives them a slight advantage over the six innings Rodon will likely pitch.

I think if we're getting +125 or better with St. Louis, we're getting a considerable enough edge over the market to bet it. Plus, there's nothing better than a home underdog on Sunday Night.

Pick: Cardinals ML (+133 at Wynn | Play to +125)

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