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MLB Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals (Wednesday, Sept. 23)

MLB Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Kansas City Royals (Wednesday, Sept. 23) article feature image

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images. Pictured: Adam Wainwright (50).

Cardinals vs. Royals Odds

Cardinals Odds -135 [Bet Now]
Royals Odds +115 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 9 (-105/-115) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 8:05 p.m. ET

Odds as of Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where you can get $250 FREE instantly after signing up AND your bets automatically sync to the Action app. Learn more about BetSync here.

The 2020 calendar year has featured so many unlikely and eccentric events that the improbable has seemingly become the norm.

How else can you explain possible playoff berths for the Toronto Blue Jays, Miami Marlins, and San Francisco Giants? Never has the term “must-win situation” had less meaning than now, as we’ve watched promising teams bungle their way down the stretch.

The good news is that we’re only five days away from the culmination of the MLB season. And one can expect a team close to clinching a postseason berth will be looking to finalize its playoff roster.

That scenario could be playing out in real-time for Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez. Martinez missed more than a month of action after contracting COVID-19 earlier this season. This will be his fourth start since returning to the team, and he’ll hope for a good performance tonight as he takes on Danny Duffy and the Kansas City Royals in the rubber match of their three-game series.

This  series hasn’t necessarily gone according to plan, as both teams failed to pick up a win in the previous two games with their aces on the mound. And much like the 2020 baseball season, we should expect the unexpected.

Tonight’s matchup is no different; and thus, I would be a bit cautious to back Martinez and the Cardinals as favorites in this spot.

Martinez’s Struggles are Worrisome

Between an offseason shoulder surgery and a bout with COVID-19, Carlos Martinez hasn’t really been able to kickstart his season. In his four starts, he hasn’t gone more than four innings, and he’s given up some crooked numbers — as evidenced by his 8.40 ERA and 2.07 WHIP.

While Martinez’s 6.38 FIP, which is lower than his ERA, points to an improvement in his runs allowed, I’m not sure that will matter much this late in the season. He hasn’t distinguished himself since returning to the rotation on Sept. 8 as he’s allowed a combined eight runs in 11 innings of work. His 4.80 BB/9 ratio is the worst of his career, and that tells me that he’s struggling to even pitch to contact, particularly with runners on base. Either he can’t locate his fastball or it’s getting tattooed when he throws it.

Per Baseball Savant, Martinez’s four-seamer is averaging more than three mph slower than last season. That’s likely the reason why batters are hitting .350 against the pitch with a .650 SLG and .417 wOBA.

At this point, Martinez resembles a spot-starter at best. Unless the Cardinals are seeing some added velocity in his side sessions, I’m not sure why they’d have a pitcher, who clearly needs more fine-tuning, sort out his problems on the mound against major league-level opposition.

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Inconsistent Year for Duffy

Danny Duffy has had his moments this season, and he’s also had some that he’d like to forget. His last start would certainly be one that he’d like to forget.

Duffy failed to make it out of the fourth inning after allowing six runs on seven hits through 3 2/3 innings. He picked up the loss in that outing which moved his record to 3-4 on the year with a 5.01 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. What you see is what you get with the Royals left-hander: His 5.06 FIP is within 0.05 points of his actual ERA this season.

Duffy has a 3.75 BB/9 ratio; and when you compare that to his WHIP and ERA, you can surmise that several of the 10 home runs he’s given have come with men on base.

The surprising thing is that Duffy actually has decent numbers against the Cardinals. The current lineup reports 51 at-bats against him with a .235 / .291 / .451 slash-line.

However, his inconsistent form and inability to pitch deep into games requires a certain amount of fortitude to be able to back him in this spot.

Betting Analysis & Pick

I’m not sure I want any part of either one of these pitchers. Between Martinez’s lack of velocity and Duffy’s up-and-down season, neither pitcher seems very reliable at the moment. Yet, given how unpredictable this season has been, I wouldn’t rule anything out. One thing that does favor Martinez is that he’s 1-0 with a 1.02 ERA against the Royals in his career. Despite allowing only two runs against Kansas City, he’s given up 16 hits in the 17.2 innings he’s faced them.

My model has this game closer to a pick ’em, and I’d even lean towards Kansas City in the first five innings. If I had to take a position on the total, I’d actually lean to the under in the off-chance that both pitchers have a good game. Furthermore, these teams have combined to score only five runs through the series’ first two games.

PointsBet is currently offering a first five-inning moneyline on the Royals at +105 along with an under-9 total at -115. But that’s as far as I’d get to making a wager on this game, as I’m more inclined to sit this one out and see if my analysis is proven right.

The Bet: Lean Royals F5 +105 / Full Game – Under 9

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