Many bettors will likely take Friday the 13th off. Not here, though. Taking a stab at a play between the Mariners and Cardinals where St. Louis looks to get back on track against Hishashi Iwakuma. Adam Wainwright makes the start for the Red Birds that find themselves back in the Wildcard with Pittsburgh owning the tie-breaker in the NL Central.
St. Louis dropped it’s first in six games last night with a loss to the Brewers. Coupled with a Bucs win and the two teams find themselves level once again on top of the NL Central. The Birds stay right at home and Adam Wainwright will get the ball after straightening himself out in his last outing after back-to-back very shaky starts. Wainwright’s seven scoreless innings last time out against Pittsburgh was plenty to alleviate any long-term concern I had about Wainwright. Chris Carpenter was able to spot a tell in Wainwright’s mannerisms on the bump and helped the ace make the adjustment. In addition, Wainwright has made a slight adjustment to his mid-week routine. He replaced bullpen with long-toss to help get out of a rut that he attributes toward trying to throw the ball to the catcher as opposed to through the catcher. Expect Wainwright to breeze right through the Seattle lineup, too. The Mariners have had some pop all year but they lack the discipline and stardom to beat Wainwright at Busch. One small concern is the possibility of Yadier Molina missing his third consecutive game with an illness to his mother. The MVP candidate’s bat will be sorely missed but, more importantly, Wainwright will have to adjust to life without his usual backstop. Certainly a factor but Wainwright is a seasoned professional that should be able to overcome the loss of his catcher – if Molina is to miss another game.
Hishashi Iwakuma is quietly putting together one of the best seasons in baseball out in Seattle. In just his second season in America, Iwakuma has posted an ERA under 3.00 with a WHIP of 1.04. I believe St. Louis can get to the lanky right-hander from Japan. If you watch Iwakuma or even just look at his game logs, you can see a moderate trend that suggests he really picks on weaker lineups and is much closer to middle-of-the-road against great lineups. Even without Allen Craig (and maybe Yadi) the Cardinals have a great lineup with guys that will work Iwakuma into a deep pitch count early in the game. The Cards will feature no less than five righties (probably six) with only their power guys coming up from the right side of the plate. This could bode well for St. Louis. Iwakuma has actually faced more lefties this season (welcome to the era of platooning) but has surrendered 50 percent more home runs to righties in 74 less at-bats. Lefties do reach base at a better rate vs. Iwakuma, however.
I don’t like this spot for the Mariners. The Cardinals look to bounce back in the heat of the most intense divisional race in baseball right now with their ace on the hill. Don’t look for Seattle to push much across. If St. Louis gets to Iwakuma by the fifth or sixth it should be a truck.
Free Pick: St. Louis -1.5 (+115)