The St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds are fighting for playoff positioning as they prepare for a pivotal three-game series beginning on Monday.
St. Louis has lost five of seven, but won its last game against Cleveland. Will the Cards' good fortune continue against Ohio teams, or will the Reds be ready to respond after losing the last set between these NL Central rivals?
Keep reading for abe Insights' preview to find the best odds, a breakdown of the main betting lines, key stats to consider and more information that should help your wagers on this exciting divisional duel.
Date: Monday, August 31
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Implied Probabilities: Cardinals 49%; Reds 53%
Spread: STL +1.5 (-190); CIN -1.5 (+170)
Moneyline: STL +106; CIN -111
Cards starting pitcher Dakota Hudson has had some bad luck this season, going 0-2 in four starts despite boasting a stout 3.32 ERA. Hudson gave up one hit in 4.2 innings when he last faced the Reds, so he'll hope his offense can provide more run support, which seems possible against the Reds' Anthony DeSclafani.
Following 11 frames of shutout ball to open the 2020 campaign, DeSclafani got lit up for nine runs in two innings by the last-place Pirates. Although he yielded only two runs in 4.1 innings versus St. Louis in his last start, the Cincinnati dealer coughed up four walks.
.197 vs. .133: In isolated power, or quantity of extra base hits per at bat, the Reds are sixth-best in all of baseball, whereas St. Louis ranks in the bottom four of MLB.
4.73 vs. 3.61: When it comes to Fielding Independent Pitching, the Cardinals starters have the league's ninth-highest total, which in this case isn't a good thing. Cincinnati is second despite DeSclafani's rough outing against Pittsburgh.
8.0 vs. -2.7: If Hudson can't count on his batting order for runs, he can at least bank on his teammates playing sound defense behind him. St. Louis ranks fourth in Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games, while the Reds are 19th out of 30 teams.
Offense has been extremely hard to come by for the Cards, who'd scored a mere six total runs across four consecutive losses before Sunday's 7-2 victory against the Indians. When Dexter Fowler Jr. is leading the club in homers with four, something isn't quite right.
St. Louis slugger Paul Goldschmidt has hit well over 30 home runs in each of the past three seasons. Despite his batting average being up 65 points from last year, Goldschmidt has lost some of the pop in his bat in hitting just three dingers to date. He's among the only players the Cardinals have who can hit it yard on a consistent basis.
It's been a strange year for the Cards, who were delayed and will miss games in an already-shortened season due to a COVID-19 outbreak in the clubhouse. Even in a limited window with a small game sample, they can't expect to lack this much in offensive output and win enough to make the playoffs.
Starting pitching is paramount in the postseason, and Cincinnati has it in spades, if not right now with DeSclafani in particular. Another positive? The Reds have jacked the fifth-most home runs in MLB (53), so Hudson — who produces a ridiculous ground ball percentage of 51% — must keep the ball down to give his side a chance.
The numbers and circumstances suggest the Reds should be favorites — and they have a built-in vengeance factor due to losing three of four in the last series against St. Louis. Thus, look for bets to favor Cincinnati's spread and moneyline.
It's a high run total, and a tall order for the Cardinals' batting order to answer, even if DeSclafani has had his difficulties of late. Wagers should therefore trend toward the Under.
Note: Odds current as of 1:55 p.m. ET on Monday, August 31.
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