Cardinals vs. Brewers MLB Odds & Picks: Fade St. Louis Early Against Woodruff (Wednesday, May 12)
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images. Pictured: Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Brandon Woodruff.
- Milwaukee suffered a late-game meltdown against the Cardinals yesterday, allowing five runs in the 11th inning.
- They have a shot at redemption tonight, however, with their ace Brandon Woodruff on the hill.
- Michael Arinze explains below why he likes the Brewers and Woodruff early.
Cardinals vs. Brewers Odds
|Time||7:40 p.m. ET|
|Odds as of Wednesday morning via BetMGM.|
The best remedy for a bad loss is to get right back on the field and play again. That’s exactly what the Milwaukee Brewers will do Wednesday after the St. Louis Cardinals tied the game Tuesday with a run in the eighth inning before plating five in the 11th inning to secure the 6-1 victory.
Milwaukee will call on their ace — Brandon Woodruff — to deliver a bounce-back performance, with John Gant opposing him for St. Louis. Woodruff seems to be the right man for the job, as he’s delivered a quality start in his last six outings. In fact, the Brewers have yet to suffer consecutive losses in his starts this season.
Let’s dig into this matchup and I’ll explain why Woodruff has been one of the most reliable pitchers in Major League Baseball coming off his team’s loss.
St. Louis Cardinals
When you look at Gant’s 2-3 record and paltry 2.15 ERA, you’d almost blindly back him in this spot where he’s as high as a +155 underdog. However, Gant’s numbers are more like a mirage, because once you dive in deeper, you’ll find a pitcher that the regression gods are just waiting to get even at some point.
According to FanGraphs, Gant has a 4.40 FIP and that’s more than two runs higher than his season’s ERA. His xERA, which is essentially the hitters’ xWOBA converted to an ERA scale, is 5.68. His 25.8 CSW% is below average, plus his 7.36 BB/9 ratio is almost as high as his strikeout ratio (7.67 K/9).
In other words, every time Gant registers a strikeout, he gives the next hitter a free pass to first base.
Gant’s game seems to be all about pitching to contact, but that hasn’t worked all that well for him, considering hitters have a .301 average on balls put into play. He’s needed to rely on his defense more than ever this year since the average velocity on his fastball has dropped almost three mph from 94.5 to 91.4. Hitters have also had success barrelling him up after comparing their 7.1% barrel rate to his previous two seasons of 2.3% and 2.8 percent.
This is a pitcher who’s really living on the edge, as it’s only a matter of time before it all catches up to him.
The starting pitchers in this game couldn’t be more different. I mentioned Gant’s 1:1 K/B ratio, which pales in comparison to Woodruff’s at 4.64. He strikes out roughly 11 batters per nine innings, while walking less than three using the same timeframe.
Hitters are clearly having a difficult time squaring him up, as evidenced by his 3.2% barrel rate, which would finish as the lowest of his career.
Part of Woodruff’s effectiveness is his command of five different pitches: Fourseam fastball (36.4%); sinker (27%); changeup (12.6%); slider (12.1%); and, curveball at 12 percent. His four-seamer and sinker average 96.6 mph, and yet each have a different effect.
The four-seamer attacks the top half of the strike zone, while the sinker works the bottom half. He also delivers his changeup and slider at roughly the same speed at 86.5 miles per hour. Woodruff pitches to the inner quadrant with the changeup, but isn’t afraid to bounce his slider in front of the plate.
His curveball (84.3 mph) is slightly slower than the slider, but generates an additional 74 revolutions per minute, making it even tougher on hitters.
You’ll see pitchers throw four or more pitches at times, but rarely do you see such a balanced distribution. Most pitchers might throw a few of their pitches five or six percent of the time. In contrast, Woodruff throws each one at least 12% of the time.
There’s no question that this is done by design. And the fact that these numbers are almost perfectly weighted tells me he has full knowledge of his splits each time he gets back on the mound. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gameplans every inning with his pitching coach and catcher to ensure they maintain the right balance.
Of course, to do this, one has to have the ability to command five different pitches and throw all of them for strikes.
And that’s precisely where Woodruff separates himself from the field.
This was my first deep dive into Woodruff, and I still feel as if I didn’t even scratch the surface. His pitching method isn’t as common with pitchers today, because many lack the feel for throwing such a variety of pitches consistently and effectively.
It’s easier to understand why Woodruff has become one of the best pitchers in the league in such a short time. Imagine being a hitter in the batter’s box, knowing that you can get anyone of his five pitches at any point.
After assessing this matchup, it should make sense why Woodruff and the Brewers are as high as a -180 favorite. However, here are a few more nuggets as parting gifts:
- St. Louis is 0-3 (-3.11 units) against the Brewers with Gant as a starter.
- Since the 2018 season, teams that lose by five or more runs in extra innings are 7-3 SU (+4.95 units) and on the run line (+4.65 units).
- Since the 2018 season, the Cardinals have not lost consecutive starts (6-0 SU) by Woodruff with his next appearance at home.
- Woodruff is 19-7-1 (73.1%) on the first five run line at home.
I think you can play this game in various ways, whether it’s the first five money line or something else, but I’ll look to target Gant for a fade in the first five since I think he’s long overdue for some regression.
While I still like the money line, whether it’s for the full game or the first five, I’d tend to prefer to avoid laying that kind of juice as it generally doesn’t pay off in the long run.
Pick: Brewers First Five Innings RL (-115)
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