St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Preview and Pick

St. Louis Cardinals (6-2) Chris Carpenter -136, 9 O/U at Arizona
Diamondbacks (2-5) Max Scherzer +126, 9 O/U, Chase Field,
Phoenix, Ariz., 9:40 PM EST, Tuesday

by Badger of

Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Max Scherzer will have a big task
ahead of him on Tuesday night when he makes his 2009 debut versus the
St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field.

Not only will the young pitcher be called upon to stop the Diamondbacks recent slide, as the D-Backs have lost five of their
last six games, but he will also be facing the red-hot Cardinals and
their ace Chris Carpenter.

The Cards ran their winning streak to five games last night with a 2-1 victory over the D-Backs in the series opener. Starter Todd
Wellemeyer pitched seven solid innings giving up seven hits and just
one run, and relievers Kyle McClellen, Dennys Reyes and Ryan Franklin
pitched two perfect innings out of the bullpen to carry the Cardinals
to victory.

Oddsmakers opened the game with Carpenter and the Cardinals as heavy -160 favorites on the moneyline. There are several offshore
sportsbooks that still list the Cards as -160 favorites, but most of
them have dropped the number down to -150 or lower. If you bet at a
book that gives dimelines the number is even better, as sites like
5Dimes are listing the Cardinals as -136
favorites with the home Diamondbacks listed at +126.

The over/under total opened at 9 and has held firm, although there
are a bunch of books that either havent released a total yet or have
the total completely off the board.

Scherzer will have his hands full Tuesday for numerous reasons. To
begin with, he will be making his first start of the season after
getting shut down late in spring training due to shoulder fatigue. If
pitching with questionable health isnt enough, he has to face a
flaming hot Cardinals offense that is batting over .300 as a team and
is scoring over five runs per game so far this season.

And if thats not enough pressure, the fact that he might have to be
near perfect will also be in the back of his mind because hes going
to have to outduel Carpenter.

After missing almost all of the past two seasons with various arm injuries, Carpenter looked every bit like his former Cy Young self in
his 2009 debut last Thursday pitching seven innings and giving up
just one hit and one run (unearned) in the Cards 2-1 victory over the
Pirates. Hell face a Diamondbacks lineup that is only scoring three
runs a game and is hitting a low .218 for the season (28th in MLB) so

Both pitchers have a limited history versus the opponent, Scherzer
because hes a rookie and Carpenter because hes been injured so
much. Scherzer went five innings and gave up seven hits and five runs
in a 4-2 loss to the Cards last August in his early call-up from
Triple-A. While Carpenter last faced Arizona all the way back in May
of 2006, a 7-6 win by the D-backs in which he lasted six innings but
gave up five hits and three runs (all unearned).

St. Louis is hoping their hot start helps to reverse their recent
trend of losing away from Busch Stadium, as they were 3-13 in their
last 16 road games before the series opening win. Coming into the
series the Cards were just 1-8 in their last nine games at Chase
Field, but they already made that 2-8 with last nights victory. The
D-Backs only have two games left on their nine-game homestand to
start the 2009 season, so they need to turn things around in a hurry
if they hope to get hot before going out on the road.

Badgers Pick: The Cardinals pound right-handed pitching (6-0 in last
six games vs. a righty) and Scherzer is coming off of an injury in
spring training. When Scherzer runs out of gas, which could happen
quickly due to his lack of recent work, the D-Backs bullpen has been
worked hard so far (18 IP) and has been knocked around too (1.67
WHIP, 7.50 ERA). Carpenters injury history scares me a little, but
at -136 on the dimeline, Ill take a chance hes as sharp as he was
in his opener. Take St. Louis at -136.