Thursday's Major League Baseball docket has the St Louis Cardinals (8-6) opening up a four-game series in the City of Brotherly Love with the Philadelphia Phillies (6-9).
Two of the National League's better pitchers in recent years will be going head-to-head, as Adam Wainwright (2-1, 2.05 ERA) takes the hill for the Cardinals against lefty Cole Hamels (0-2, 7.56).
The pitchers' ERAs alone make the Cardinals being listed as only slight favorites a little shocking to me. If you dig into the numbers using the Bovada data tool on our Home page, you will see the Cardinals are the much better play tonight for reasons beyond pitching match-ups.
St Louis is averaging more than two runs per game than the Phillies (5.64 - 3.47) while allowing over a full run less than the Phillies per contest (3.79 - 4.93). The Cardinals, offensively, are collecting more hits per game than the Phillies, walking more than Philly, and their batters are striking out less.
Now, back to the pitchers. Wainwright has owned Philadelphia hitters as of late, with a 1-0 record and a nasty 0.90 ERA versus the Phillies in his last three starts. He's also won his last two starts this season, allowing just two runs in 16 innings. Wainwright could find things unusually easy at the top of the Phillies order if a recent trend continues. Phillie leadoff hitter Ben Revere is 2 for his last 20, while two-hole hitter Jimmy Rollins is 1 for his last 18.
Hamels, on the other hand, did settle into his best outing by far his last time out, hurling a season-best six full innings and pitching shutout ball in a 2-1 loss to Miami. But is shutting down the Marlins something to boast about? Prior to that, Hamels' ERA was well over 10.00 after struggling against Kansas City and Atlanta in his two previous starts. And the Cardinals aren't the best team to face when a lefty is having hard times. Last season, St. Louis batted a National League high .276 against southpaws.
Not much here points toward the Phillies, in my mind. And the Cardinal at -117 according to Bovada is probably a bargain. I will be bird-watching tonight and banking tomorrow.
My pick: St. Louis Cardinals -117
Result ... St Louis 4 Philadelphia 3 Cardinals cover