Indians vs. Cardinals Odds, Preview, Prediction: Shane Bieber Starts Opener in St. Louis (Tuesday, June 8)
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Shane Bieber
- The Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Cardinals meet in a series opener tonight in St. Louis.
- Shane Bieber takes the mound for Cleveland against Carlos Martinez.
- Is the pitching mismatch enough to make Cleveland worth betting? Michael Arinze looks into it below.
Indians vs. Cardinals Odds
|Over/Under||7.5 (+105 / -125)|
|Time||8:15 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Tuesday morning and via bet365.|
The Cleveland Indians head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals for a two-game series in interleague play. Both teams come into this game after a much-needed day off on Monday. On Sunday, Cleveland lost 18-5 to the Baltimore Orioles — a team with the second-worst record in baseball at 21-38.
As for the Cardinals, their last day off was May 20th which means they endured a difficult stretch of 17 games in 17 days. If that’s not enough to deal with, the Cardinals also ended that stretch on a five-game losing streak.
While it seems there’s not a whole lot to like about either team in this spot; we’ll approach this game from a value perspective to see if one side makes more sense than the other at the betting window.
Offensive Struggles Plague Cleveland
It’s probably fair to say that at 31-26, Cleveland has overachieved thus far this season. Especially when you consider it’s ahead of its projected win total that was set at 81.5. The Indians are five games above .500 despite having a -15 run differential. And based on their runs scored and runs allowed, their Pythagorean expectation projects a .471 win percentage compared to the .544 mark that it is today.
Cleveland’s offensive struggles are the main reason why it has a negative run differential. The Indians are 25th in the league with a wRC+ of 87, 28th in team batting average (.221), and 29th in on-base percentage (.291). However, the one bright spot for the Indians has been their pitching, led by the 2020 American League Cy Young award winner, Shane Bieber.
Bieber will start the series opener for the Indians, and he carries a 6-3 record with a 3.08 ERA. However, his 2.88 FIP is even lower, suggesting there’s still room for more positive regression. He’s faced the Cardinals only once in his career, and he picked up the win after allowing six hits and one run in six innings of work.
This time around, he’ll face only two players in the Cardinals’ lineup who have been in the batter’s box against him.
That lack of familiarity is certainly something that could work to his advantage.
Martinez’s Career A Roller Coaster
Carlos Martinez will oppose Bieber for the Cardinals. The right-hander has struggled to find the form that made him an All-Star in 2015 and 2017. Shoulder problems forced him to split time as a starter and a reliever in 2018 before spending the entire 2019 season as the Cardinals’ closer. Martinez was reinserted back into the rotation in 2020 but was limited to only five starts after a long bout with COVID-19.
This season, he’s 3-5 with a 5.83 ERA. He actually had a 4.22 ERA entering into his last start but only managed to retire two batters while allowing 10 runs in the first inning against the Dodgers. Despite that poor outing, Martinez does have a 4.27 FIP, which is more than 1.5 runs lower than his ERA. That discrepancy does suggest he could be in line for a substantial positive regression. Even his 1.24 WHIP would be considered respectable despite his high ERA.
The biggest problem Martinez has is when runners get on base.
Batters have a .176/.243/.256 line against him with the bases empty, but with a runner on, his numbers spike to .325/.438/.506. Usually, good pitchers can bear down in these moments with a much-needed strikeout, but Martinez only has a 5.17 K/9 ratio, which is the lowest of his career.
If you look even deeper into his numbers, he’s also only picking up called strikes or swinging strikes on 23.8% of his pitches. So, again, that’s well below average, and it further shows the challenge he’s having with missing bats at the moment.
With Martinez struggling on the mound coupled with Cleveland’s sputtering offense, I’m not sure I’m any closer to picking a side in this matchup. Of course, I’d be more confident in the Indians if I were assured that Bieber would pitch a complete game, but since those are rare in this age of baseball, I’m in less of a hurry to back the Indians in this spot.
Nonetheless, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Since the 2020 season, teams coming off a game which they lost by 13 runs are 8-2 for +6.31 units.
- Since 2007, the Cardinals are a perfect 4-0 when playing at home and on a five-game losing streak.
With both situational trends essentially resulting in a wash, I’m much more inclined to pass on this game at the current price. I don’t think you can trust the Indians as a -170 favorite, especially when the odds are against Bieber pitching a complete game.
As for Martinez, it’s really a coin flip as to whether he can get the better of Cleveland’s hitters.
Usually, when there’s this much uncertainty surrounding a game, it makes more sense to take the value with the underdog. So after assessing both teams, I’d have to lean to the Cardinals, which bet365 prices at+150.
Pick: Lean Cardinals (+150)