Giants vs Cardinals Pick: Johnny Cueto to Take Control
Most of the big MLB sportsbooks opened San Francisco and Johnny Cueto at around -130 over St. Louis and Luke Weaver, with an over/under of 7.5 runs. Early betting action then bumped that line about a nickel, to the -135 range. At the time of publication 5Dimes and BOL were only 7 cents apart creating good value opportunities if you have an opinion on this contest.
The Cardinals just took two of three games in Arizona, winning a rubber match Wednesday night 8-4. St. Louis trailed Wednesday’s game 2-1 into the top of the seventh inning, then put up a five-spot on its way toward a victory as +105 underdogs.
So the Cardinals are 2-1-1 over their last four series and 6-5 over their last 11 games.
At 44-41 St. Louis trails first-place Milwaukee by 6.5 games in the NL Central, but only sits 3.5 games back of Philadelphia in the battle for the second National League wild-card spot.
San Francisco, meanwhile, just got swept three games in Colorado, falling Wednesday 1-0. The Giants managed just three hits Wednesday, after scoring one run on six hits Tuesday and two runs on five hits Monday.
Even after getting swept, though, the Giants are 4-1 over their last five series and 10-5 over their last 15 games.
At 45-43 San Fran trails division-leading Arizona by 3.5 games in the NL West, and sits four games back of the Phillies in that NL wild-card race.
This is the first encounter between these perennial National League playoff contenders this season. Last year the Cardinals took the season series from the Giants four games to three.
Cueto (3-0, 0.84) is coming off the DL (elbow) to make his first start since April 28. He started great this season, with five straight quality starts, allowing just three runs and 16 hits through 32 innings, with 26 strikeouts against just six walks. San Francisco is 4-1 with Cueto this year, with the unders going 3-2.
In his most recent start against St. Louis, last September, Cueto allowed two runs and four hits through 5 1/3 innings of a game the Giants eventually lost 11-6.
Weaver (4-7, 5.16), by our tough standards, is just 4/17 on quality starts this year, and 0 for his last seven. Last Saturday he got slapped around for eight runs and 10 hits through 4 2/3 innings of an 11-4 loss to Atlanta, although just before that he held Milwaukee to two runs through 5 2/3 innings, with nine strikeouts. However, he’s also given up five home runs over his last three starts. On the season the Cardinals are 8-9 with Weaver, with the overs going 9-8.
In his one start last season against San Francisco Weaver gave up two runs and four hits through seven innings, with nine strikeouts, in a 7-3 St. Louis victory.
St. Louis ranks 17th in the Majors this year against right-handed pitching with a .247 team batting average, 19th with a .315 team OBP and 20th with a .400 team slugging percentage.
San Francisco ranks 3rd against RHP with a .262 BA, 6th with a .325 OBP and 12th with a .412 slugging percentage.
The Giants get our handicapping check-mark in this department for Thursday.
The Cardinals bullpen ranks 18th in the ML with a 4.05 ERA and 17th with a 1.34 WHIP, while going 20/33 on save opportunities. St. Louis relievers have thrown a total of eight innings so far this week.
The San Francisco pen ranks 11th in ERA at 3.67 and 12th in WHIP at 1.28 while going 21/38 on save opps. Giants relievers have thrown 5 1/3 innings this week.
We’ll give the Giants a short edge in the bullpen comparison.
The overs are 22-16 in games played at AT&T Park this season, which are averaging 8.9 total runs per.
San Francisco is 9-2 on the Unders its last 11 times out, getting decent pitching but spotty performances with the sticks.
Last year the overs went 4-3 in Cards-Giants games, which averaged 9 total runs per.
We love Cueto and benefited from his early solid start. And Thursday’s price isn’t as bad as it could be, or will be once he gets rolling again. Despite coming off the sweep in Denver we’re betting San Francisco here.