A great win last night behind Porcello and a historic night for Papi has us 4-1 this month ready to make one last run and bolster those full season numbers. Speaking of making a run, St. Louis is making one in the wrong direction. The Major’s best team for the entire season, the Cards have suddenly made the NL Central a race beyond just the Cubs and Pirates for second place. Eight losses in the last ten have the Birds’ lead in the division down to just 2.5! And two losses in Cincinnati yesterday mean that the last-place Reds have a chance to sweep four games. Michael Wacha is tasked with putting a stop to any such shenanigans.
Wacha is the biggest reason I like the Cardinals so much in this spot on Sunday afternoon. Remember that he’s just 24; but the now ace has taken huge strides in each of his three Major League seasons. When Adam Wainwright went down at the start of this season, St. Louis didn’t necessarily put the onus on Wacha, rather he put it on himself to head the starting staff. Ever since his masterful playoff performance as a rookie in 2013, observers have labeled him as a guy with stopper qualities and such a label appears appropriate. He wants the ball in the biggest spots and typically for good reason. While it’s tough to believe game number 143 Sunday in Cincinnati is a big spot for the Cardinals, they really need it in order to escape a division rivals’ ballpark with any momentum at all. Against a team he’s more than capable of dominating, in this spot, expect Wacha to come up big.
Watching a guy like Raisel Iglesias only makes you appreciate what Wacha has done at the age he’s at. Iglesias has come onto the scene this year as a 25-year-old rookie to put up good numbers. But we’ve backed the Cardinals in similar spots against a young pitcher that they only need to hit for a couple runs and it’s the perfect spot to do it again. While Iglesias’ ERA and WHIP numbers are strong, he hasn’t shown the ability to consistently go deep into games and has weakened ever so slightly down the stretch. Ten earned runs in his last three outings isn’t bad, but it’s a rate that probably won’t get it done against a desperate Cardinals team with its ace on the hill. It almost certainly won’t be if the Cuban can only get through five or six innings. That will be St. Louis’ mindset.
Free Pick: Cardinals -125
YTD: 24-18-4 +1.54
2014: 45-28-3 +9.02