Cincinnati Reds (30-22) Johnny Cueto, at St. Louis Cardinals
(30-22) P.J. Walters, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo., 8:15 PM EST,
Tuesday, June 1st, 2010
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Line: Reds -120/Cardinals +110
Since the other game being played for first-place bragging rights in
the National League Tuesday night is going to be shown nationally on
the four-letter network, well turn our focus to the other one at
Busch Stadium between the surprising Cincinnati Reds and the hometown St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals pulled even with the Reds atop the NL Central with last
nights 12-4 victory, breaking out of their recent slump at the dish
by rapping out a season-high 16 hits in the win.
The Cards are happy to be back in Busch Stadium (16-8 at home), where
they havent lost a series against the Reds in their last 10 tries
(9-0-1). A win tonight can move them back in front of the Reds if
they can with another good start out of rookie P.J. Walters.
But thats going to be easier said than done, as they face probably
the National Leagues best pitcher in the month of May, the Reds
Cueto was straight-up filthy all month long, holding opponents to a .
182 batting average while going 4-0 in his five starts (Reds won all
five) with a 1.59 ERA. He also notched 37 strikeouts in 34 innings of
work, so his slider has become a serious out-pitch.
The oddsmakers are giving the Cardinals the benefit of the doubt
despite the opposing starter across the diamond, listing St. Louis
and rookie Walters as -120 favorites on the moneyline. Thats makes
Cueto and the Reds a tasty +110 at sportsbooks that offer dimelines.
The over/under total opened at 7.5 and has moved up the hook to 8 at
most sportsbooks, although there are still a few out on the Web that
are still at 7.5 with extra juice on the over.
Walters was great in his first and only start last Thursday in San
Diego, throwing five scoreless innings in an 8-3 Cards win over the
Padres. But I must say I am a little surprised hes being listed as
the favorite since he is a flyball pitcher (0.75 GB-FB) in hitter-
friendly Busch, and was tagged around every other time out in the big
leagues (21 H, 19 R in 16 IP with 6 HR) prior to last Thursday.
Walters might have to deal with the Reds best hitter Joey Votto
returning to the lineup too. Votto, who has sat out six games with a
sore neck, seems to enjoy Busch Stadiums confines since he is a .378
hitter at Busch with a .500 OBP and a 1.095 OPS.
Cueto will be going for his sixth win in a row in tonights duel and
the Reds are 7-3 in his 10 starts this season. As mentioned, hes
reeled in his walks (1.15 WHIP) and is missing more and more bats
with better control of his secondary pitches, so its hard to find
many flaws with how hes pitching at the moment.
Historically Cueto has been two different pitchers versus the Cards,
a wide-eyed rookie who got lit up (0-2, 16.20 ERA in 2 starts) and
the righty who has been gaining confidence in himself and his stuff
ever since (3-0, 2.39 ERA in five starts since).
He could be dealing with a Cards lineup that is peaking at the
moment. Albert Pujols is still Pujols, but Matt Holliday is finally
hitting behind him (9-for-18 last 5 games) so Cueto certainly will
have his hands full.
But while the pitching matchup strongly favors the Reds on paper, oddsmakers just cant deny the recent stranglehold the Cards seem to
have on the Reds. The Cards are only 6-4 against them already in
2010, but they are 3-1 at Busch and as mentioned they havent lost a
series at Busch in years (9-0-1 in last 10) and are 38-15 going back
Badgers Pick: Get in on Cueto and the Reds while their still listed at dog prices, because I dont expect those numbers to hold until
first pitch. Take Cincinnati at +110.