Editor’s note: The opinion on this game is from the individual writer and is based on his research, analysis and perspective. It is independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.
St. Louis Cardinals at Milwaukee Brewers, 2:10 p.m. ET
- Cardinals (Luke Weaver): +125
- Brewers (Jhoulys Chacín): -135
- Over/under: 9
Bet to Watch
Jhoulys Chacin has raced out to a fast start in 2018, compiling a 6-2 record with an impressive 3.18 ERA. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll notice that regression looms for the right-hander. Look no further than his 4.71 xFIP (Expected Fielding Independent Pitching) — a more predictive measure of performance.
While Chacin’s slider continues to devastate National League hitters — only Luis Severino has a higher slider value this season, per FanGraphs — it is unlikely he will keep up this pace with a very pedestrian 6.78 K/9, the 15th-lowest among qualified pitchers. His 1.89 K/BB (11th-worst in MLB) is simply not a recipe for long-term domination. I also don’t expect him to maintain his 0.62 HR/9 rate as the season progresses.
That regression could start today against his nemesis. In eight career games (seven starts) against the Cardinals, Chacin is 0-6 with a 5.88 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. Current Cardinals hitters are batting .318 off Chacin, with more walks than strikeouts.
Today’s other starter, Luke Weaver, arrives in poor recent form. Over his past four starts, the righty owns a 5.75 ERA with 15 strikeouts and 10 walks over 20.1 innings. He’s still primarily a two-pitch hurler (fastball/change), which spells disaster in the majors without elite stuff. That’s especially the case when he struggles with command and confidence, which has caused his walks to go up and length to decrease.
That all spells trouble against the Brewers, who’ve hit an NL-best 76 homers against right-handers. (The Cardinals actually rank second with 74.) For reference, Weaver has a 4.41 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and .300 BAA in six career starts against Milwaukee.
After two consecutive contests dominated by pitching, I expect the offenses to open up in hitter-friendly Miller Park. Also, if this game does indeed turn into a bullpen battle, you certainly have to give the edge to the Brew Crew. Milwaukee’s relievers have the fourth-lowest ERA (2.78) in MLB, while St. Louis (4.24) ranks 21st.
It also won’t hurt to have umpire Mike Winters (32-23 to the over last two seasons) behind the plate.
The pick: Over 9