The Cardinals and Giants are a couple of teams that have had up-and-down seasons. The Giants made a run toward postseason contention around the All-Star break, but they have since fallen by the wayside. The St. Louis Cardinals looked like one of the most disappointing teams in baseball in the early part of the season, but they’re now primed to make a run at a playoff spot. The Cardinals lead the NL Central by three games entering play Wednesday, with the Cubs looking like the only team capable of catching St. Louis at this point.
The Cardinals have picked up back-to-back wins over the Giants to begin their midweek series in Missouri, with two more games on tap for Wednesday and Thursday. Michael Wacha will get the ball for the Cardinals in Game 3, while Madison Bumgarner will counter for San Francisco.
|2019 ATR Home||28-40||38-32|
|2019 ATR Away||44-26||37-31|
|2019 O/U Home||32-31-5||26-41-3|
|2019 O/U Away||34-34-2||29-34-5|
For a while, Madison Bumgarner was the hottest name on the trade block. Few expected the Giants to contend for a postseason berth. With Bumgarner in the final year of his deal, most believed San Francisco would look to trade their longtime ace. However, with the team on the cusp of Wild Card contention, general manager Farhan Zaidi decided against trading Bumgarner at the deadline.
The lefty has been good this season following a couple of injury-plagued campaigns. The 30-year-old is 9-8 through 29 starts on the season with a 3.62 ERA. His 4.15 xFIP is a bit more pedestrian than his ERA, but he has pitched pretty well overall. Bumgarner has a strikeout rate nearing 25% with a walk rate just over 5%. Both are big improvements over his numbers from last season, when many feared he was beginning to decline.
The Cardinals’ projected lineup has a team wOBA of .339 and an ISO of .211 against left-handed pitching this season. They have also struck out at a low 19.2% clip. Facing nine right-handed hitters is suboptimal given Bumgarner’s traditional split, and St. Louis has additional power with the likes of Jose Martinez and Yairo Munoz returning to the fold. With Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna, and Paul DeJong also looming, this is a pretty daunting matchup in general for Bumgarner. He will also be facing them away from his pitcher-friendly home ballpark.
Michael Wacha has bounced back and forth between the Cardinals’ rotation and bullpen already this season. The right-hander has made 19 starts to go along with five appearances in relief. He’s 6-6 through those 24 outings with an ERA north of 5.00. His 4.86 xFIP is slightly better than his ERA, but the gap isn’t wide enough to really make a difference.
Control issues have plagued him, too. Wacha has walked 10% of the hitters he’s faced, which is well below average, especially for a starter. The Giants lineup on the other side of this matchup isn’t all that imposing, though. San Francisco may put four left-handed hitters into the lineup, which actually favors Wacha. The right-hander has allowed a career .330 wOBA to his fellow righties compared to a .288 mark against left-handed hitters. Wacha’s reverse splits could help him against the likes of Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, and Brandon Belt.
The best right-handed hitter in the Giants’ lineup will likely be Evan Longoria, who has just a .320 wOBA against same-handed pitching on the year.
Picking against Bumgarner isn’t something I typically like to do, but I do like the way the Cards’ lineup profiles against him. Throwing nine right-handed bats at him isn’t perfect for him, plus, this is a tough team to strike out. Wacha’s numbers on the year are bad, but he has flashed a little bit of form lately. Wacha hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing in almost exactly a month.
I like the Cardinals tonight. At most real money gambling sites, there is decent value for betting on St. Louis to win the game outright at -130 on the moneyline. That’s where I’d put my money. Take the Cardinals to make it three straight wins over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday night.
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