The Twins are 0-9, which makes us 1-2 and now two-thirds of a unit underground here in early April. We’ll go back to the National League on Friday, where a couple of Central rivals will do battle.
After getting swept in three games in Pittsburgh to start the season, the Cardinals have bounced back to win five of their last six against weaker competition. The offseason debate in the NL Central was about how confidently we could write off the Cards and hand the division crown to the Chicago Cubs. And while it was easy for most, a small population remained weary of how St. Louis manages to exceed expectations year in and year out. The Cardinals don’t have the starpower of the Cubs, or even of rosters of recent years. But what they do have is a strong winning culture, a good manager and plenty of arms to last 162 games.
One of those arms is 24-year-old Carlos Martinez, who is coming off his first complete, and really good, Major League season. Martinez tossed to the tune of a 3-flat ERA over 180 innings last season, despite starting to show signs of fatigue down the stretch. It’s still plenty early in 2016 and Martinez looked strong his first time out, earning an easy win against the Braves. He gave up four runs in three starts (17 innings) against the Reds last year and some of that damage came against Todd Frazier. Following a complete game gem from Jaime Garcia, the Birds’ bullpen is completely rested. Don’t expect a whole lot of offense from Cincy today.
Meanwhile, St. Louis gets a crack at rookie Tim Melville, who will make his second career start tonight. It’s often difficult for teams to face a young pitcher for the first time but if there’s one team I feel comfortable backing in such a spot it’s St. Louis. The Cardinals are an incredibly disciplined group that will drive up the pitch count, take advantage of mistakes and get to the bullpen early. Melville walked four and lasted just as many innings in his first start and he’ll have a similarly tough time in his second. This is a mismatch at a bargain price.
Free Pick: Cardinals -1 (-127)
YTD: 1-2 -0.67
2015: 31-25-5 +1.09
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02