Six straight wins to close August has us feeling pretty good leading into the first play of September. So good, you could even compare my morale with the St. Louis Cardinals’. Because after sitting in second place behind the Brewers for just about all year, the Red Birds are finally on top of the NL Central when it matters most. The Cards have opened up a three-game lead in the Central with a five-game winning streak of their own. And a matchup with the sliding Brewers means it very well could be four soon enough. To pile it on, the Cardinals get Michael Wacha back from a shoulder injury that sidelined him since mid-June. You can probably tell which direction I’m leaning toward on Thursday.
Another great pitching performance helped St. Louis sweep away the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday. Shelby Miller not only pitched effectively, but he threw deep into the game to complete seven innings. That bodes well for today, where the Cardinals’ bullpen will get early action with Michael Wacha expected to only throw about 60 pitches on his way back from a stress reaction in his shoulder. Wacha should likely only get through four innings or so, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be effective. In fact, I expect the 23-year-old righty to be extra good since he’ll probably only see some Brewers twice on his way to 60 pitches. St. Louis will have Justin Masterson (the man Wacha replaces) to draw from in the bullpen in addition to an already surplus of arms. And while things are looking up for the Cardinals, the same cannot be said for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Losers of eight straight, the bad keeps getting worse for Milwaukee. The Crew started its most recent nine-game road trip with a win, but couldn’t muster a single one after that against the Padres, Giants and Cubs. With Carlos Gomez out again, Milwaukee should continue to struggle putting up runs without its best player. A return home certainly helps, but a fear of sliding all the way out of contention in the Wild Card has to be in the back of the Brewers’ minds. A reasonable amount of self-doubt probably also lies in Wily Peralta‘s mind right about now. The former April ace has struggle big time in his last two starts (games I’m 2-0 on here with an over win and a fade). He’s given up 13 runs in his last eight innings, which combines the last two games.
There just sure isn’t a whole lot to like about Milwaukee in this spot besides that the Brewers are coming home. Couple that with how St. Louis is playing and you have yourself a bargain road pick’em. Don’t overthink this one.
Free Pick: St. Louis (-105)
YTD: 34-23-2 +6.31