Houston Astros at St. Louis Cardinals Pick 7/27/19
Houston Astros (66-39) at St. Louis Cardinals (56-47)
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, July 27
Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis
Moneyline: HOU -180/STL +165 (BetAnySports)
Runline: Astros -1.5/Cardinals +1.5
Starting Pitchers: Gerrit Cole (11-5, 3.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) vs. Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-0, 2.82 WRA, 1.12 WHIP)
St. Louis was a mediocre team at the All-Star break, seemingly stuck in a logjam for the race for the National League Central title. Instead of falling behind the pack, however, the Cardinals have stepped up their game in recent weeks, winning 10 of their past 12 games. Granted, much of that came against Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, which have proven to be squarely in the middle of the pack, but there’s not much luck involved when you dig your weigh out of a tough situation, as the Cardinals did when they pulled out a 5-3 win over Houston off of a three-run home run by Paul Goldschmidt, who has now homered in five consecutive games to get his streak going.
The Redbirds’ surge has been in large part because they’re generating so much offense. In the past ten games, the Cardinals have scored at least three runs in nine of their past ten contests, including three times where three was exactly the number needed to either match or tie their opponent. Goldschmidt has led the way, and St. Louis has averaged 5.5 runs a game over its past ten contests.
Exploration for Consistency
Daniel Ponce de Leon has one of the best names in the game, but what he doesn’t have is one of the best stat lines in the game. So far, the Cardinals’ hurler has struggled to gain a foothold because of his inability to produce a consistent performance on the mound. He’s either pitched pretty well over a brief amount of time, pitched poorly and needed to be rescued, or pitched well enough to put himself in line for a possible victory. His past three starts have been one of each, as he made it through three innings in his last start against the Pirates, holding Pittsburgh to just one run on three hits, but coming out before he could face most of the Pirates’ lineup a second time.
That was probably for the best, as he got tattooed for eight hits and four runs when he went 3 2/3 innings against Pittsburgh and needed the bullpen to rescue his evening, which it did in a 6-5 Cardinal win. At this point, you just don’t know what you’re going to get from the 27-year-old, not a comforting prospect.
The easiest way to hold a team’s score down in baseball is to not let them put the ball in play, and that’s exactly what Gerrit Cole has been doing as of late. In six of his past nine starts, he’s managed at least ten strikeouts, and not coincidentally, only once in his past ten starts has a team managed to top two earned runs against him. Really, Cole’s only weakness during that stretch has been his tendency to give up the home run. This season, he’s allowed 21 home runs in 22 starts, a much higher trend than his career average of just under one home run every three starts.
Once, this was one of the fiercest rivalries in the game, and things came to a head between the teams in 2005 when they met in the NLCS for the second consecutive season. After losing to the Cardinals in 2004 and watching St. Louis get swept by Boston, the Astros finally broke through to their first World Series by beating the Cardinals (and then getting swept in the Fall Classic by the White Sox). But those days ended with Houston’s move to the American League, and the teams now rarely play each other. This is their only scheduled series for 2019.
- The Astros are 5-1 in Cole’s past six Saturday starts.
- The Astros are 1-7 in their past eight against the NL Central.
- The Cardinals are 12-2 in their past 14 games.
- The Cardinals are 5-1 in Ponce de Leon’s past six starts.
- The under is 7-1 in the Astros’ past eight games.
- The under is 4-1 in the Cardinals past five interleague home games against a right-handed starter.
The mercury will be high when the teams take the field, as the first pitch temperature is slated for 94 degrees in St. Louis.
If the Cardinals can get into the Astros’ bullpen, Houston is vulnerable. That’s not really a pick that I want to make given how well Cole has been pitching for the past few months, but the price on the Cardinals makes it one worth considering.
Honestly, it’s not the sexiest bet on the table, but the best bet is probably to take the Cardinals on the run line here. Cole has been fantastic, but the Cardinals are hitting so well that they’re likely to stick around in this game and make it a close contest. I don’t love the idea of going against Cole here, but with the Cardinals playing this well and going off at such a high price at home (+170 at BetOnline), this is hard to pass up.
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