Houston Astros (Brett Myers) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (Brad Penny) Preview and Pick – Betting Line

Houston Astros (0-7) Brett Myers, at St. Louis Cardinals (5-2)
Brad Penny, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo., 8:15 PM EST, Wednesday,
April 14th, 2010

by Badger of Predictem.com

Betting Line: Astros +190/Cardinals -200
Total: 8.5

After a day off yesterday to clear the air, the only winless team in
Major League Baseball will try to put a mark in the win column when
the Houston Astros face the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the
series at Busch Stadium on Wednesday.

The Astros lost the opener on Monday when Cards co-ace Adam
Wainwright threw a 6-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory to move their
season-opening losing streak to a franchise record seven games. As
the pressure mounts to get off the schnid it now becomes the burden
for free agent righty Brett Myers, who will be called upon by the
Astros to play the role of stopper on the mound versus the Cardinals.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals just keep on keeping on as Mondays win
moved them to 5-2 and ahead of the pack in the National League
Central. The Cards will counter with the free agent pitcher they
acquired in the offseason, Brad Penny, who will have the benefit of
pitching for the power-packed lineup of the home team.

Oddsmakers cant find anyone on the planet that wants to wager on the
hapless Astros these days, so consequently theyre listing the
Cardinals and Penny as up to -225 favorites on the moneyline. The
Astros are listed as up to +205 underdogs at most sportsbooks on the other side.

The total opened at 8.5 overnight and has moved in both directions,
depending on which book youre using. A few online bookies have dropped it to 8, while a couple have moved it up to 9, but the vast majority
of them are still listing the total at 8.5 so I guess nobody seems to
have strong feeling on the number.

Normally an in depth look at the starters is required to get a feel
for handicapping the game, but in the case of this game you almost
have too focus on the two offenses right now.

In the one dugout you have the slugging Cardinals, who are top-10 in
most categories including runs (6.0 5th), OPS (.806 6th) and
homeruns (13 - 2nd). In the other one the Astros, who couldnt hit
water if they fell out of a canoe right now, with an MLB-worst 1.86
runs per game, OPS (.539) and homeruns (2). Even with a day off to
clear their heads, these two offenses are on opposite ends of the
danger spectrum.

With the confidence of having the Cards offense behind him Penny was dealing in his debut last Thursday, throwing seven innings of six-
hit, one-run ball in a 2-1 loss to Bronson Arroyo and the Cincinnati
Reds. Penny has always been lights-out in April to begin with (23-7
in 48 GS, .376 SLG), and now hes got Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday
swinging on his team, so I expect him to be even more on his game if
his arm stays healthy.

Myers was tagged for 12 hits in his six innings of work in his season debut against San Francisco last week, but he did only give up 4 runs
so he did limit the damage to a degree. He is 4-2 in 11 starts
against the Cards, but hes been knocked around just as bad (5.45
ERA, .313 BA, .868 OPS) as he was in his opener and weve already
discussed the Cards offense to this point.

Myers isnt very fond of the new Busch Stadium either, as he has
given up 34 hits and 21 runs in 26 innings pitched (4 starts) with
similar numbers as above (.309 BA, .873 OPS).

In fact, Penny hasnt faired much better at new Busch, going 0-1 in
two starts and getting tagged around (15 H, 6 R, 12 IP, .395 BAbip)
just like his counterpart.

The Astros as a team arent very fond of the new park either, as they are 2-10 in their last 12 visits to the city with the Gateway Arch.

The under has some solid betting trends, like a 23-8-1 record in the
last 32 meetings including nine of the last 11 games head-to-head.
The under has covered in six of the Astros seven games (remember that
weak offense).

Badgers Pick: Its just too much juice for me to take the Cards in this game, who I expect to win and probably in big fashion. My money
is on the over of 8 (or 8.5 if you cant find 8), as both pitchers
have struggled in Busch and the Astros are bound by the law of
averages to break out soon.