Cardinals vs. Brewers MLB Odds & Picks: Pitchers Will Shine in NL Central Battle (Tuesday, May 11)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Freddy Peralta
- The Cardinals and Brewers appear primed to duke it out atop the NL Central standings all season.
- They meet for the first time this season tonight in Milwaukee.
- Jeff Hicks breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.
Cardinals vs. Brewers Odds
|Time||7:40 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Monday and via FanDuel.|
The Cardinals’ voodoo magic is back, taking only 30 games to turn on and push the team to first in the National League Central. One team they passed on the way to the top is Milwaukee. Keeping up with the Brewers’ injury report is headache-inducing to read and one reason why they have stumbled of late.
Both teams have relied on above-average pitching and shutdown relievers. Both should be on display in the series opener Tuesday. Do you get where I am leaning?
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals just finished a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. Their reward is sitting atop the NL Central, a day off, and then a matchup against Freddy Peralta. Can’t have your cake and eat it too.
St. Louis had its get-right series against the Rockies, averaging five-plus runs per game and boosting its Offensive WAR a tick in the process. The Cardinals’ -3.6 Offensive WAR is 13th in baseball and is powered by, well, their power. The Cards are top 10 in slugging overall and on the road against right-handed pitching. A contact-oriented offense, they sit in the bottom half of MLB in walk and strikeout rate and have BABIP numbers that indicate positive regression.
One specific player who has seen positive regression is Paul Goldschmidt. He has a .296 average with five RBI and a .840 OPS over his last five games and 11 RBI over his last 15 games. His production, matched with Nolan Arenado and strong starts for Tommy Edman and Dylan Carlson, have propelled the St. Louis offense.
Kwang Hyun Kim is still a relative unknown with fewer than 60 innings pitched since joining St. Louis last season. He has increased his strikeout rate and is attached to an unsavory yet unsustainable .346 BABIP. That is partially why his xERA is 5.29, much higher than his 3.06 actual ERA. Nearly half of the balls put in play off Kim have been Barreled or categorized as a hard hit. Good thing the Brewers’ offense is up-and-down to the point that it is top 10 in Hard Hit and Soft Hit percentage at home.
The Cardinals’ bullpen is one of 11 to collect one WAR and has solidified its closer role with Alex Reyes. Giovanny Gallegos is also a high-leverage reliever who has taken on a larger burden with the injury to former closer Jordan Hicks.
The Milwaukee Brewers cannot hit and are wasting their sixth-ranked pitching based on Pitching WAR. What is worse is the offense’s performance at home. The Brewers have the lowest wRC+ at home, and are bottom 10 in walk rate, wOBA, average and OPS, and strike out 25% of the time.
And Christian Yelich is on the shelf with a back injury.
Thankfully, pitchers such as Freddy Peralta have buoyed the Brewers and give them a chance to win whenever he toes the rubber. His ERA is one full run higher than his xERA and slightly higher than his xFIP. Peralta is a flyball pitcher who can give up home runs, but his 79.6 Left On Base Percentage (LOB%) is more than acceptable. He also needs to limit his walks (4.78 per 9) against a team that is not inclined to take them.
Peralta needs to pitch six-plus innings to help increase Milwaukee’s chances of winning. Aside from injuries, the Brewers’ bullpen has pitched well, collecting 0.8 WAR. Josh Hader continues to dominate and has not allowed a home run in 2021. After a rough opening to the season, Devin Williams and his ‘Airbender’ have been dynamite.
Whichever starting pitcher gets the ball to the backend of their bullpen latest in the game is going to win. Neither offense is set up to continually outscore their opponent and will struggle to plate baserunners. 7.5 runs is a low total but realistic and not juiced for this game. Kim and/or Peralta appear set up for a tough luck no-decision in a low-scoring game.
Pick: Under 7.5 runs (-122, bet to -140)