At the end of July, St. Louis lost 4/5 games against Pittsburgh and the lead in the Central division after being outshot 22-7 in the first four games. They salvaged one victory in the final game of the series and scored a massive 13 points to avoid the sweep, but that still caused them to fall into second place. Now they try to return the favor at Busch Stadium with a sweep of their own that will enable them to tie the Pirates with 70 victories.
Cincinnati is just one point behind them and it is very likely that the central division will be the one to award the wildcard, which means that there is no room for error. St. Louis will send Adam Wainwright for the opening game hoping that their best starting pitcher can give them the upper hand against Pittsburgh. He’s the only one in their rotation to have won 13 games and his ERA of 2.66 is one of the best in the National League, but he didn’t fare well against the Pirates.
Adam conceded an average of five fronts per game in his starts versus Pittsburgh and not even home pitch advantage helped him last more than six innings. The only good news ahead of this feature is that the Pirates lost three games in a row and scored just seven runs in Colorado. The Rockies are hardly the best team in their division and even though Coors Field is a hitter friendly stadium, the visitors were unable to take advantage. If they perform in the same manner against the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright might improve his earned run average against him and add the 14th victory.
He will be opposed by an equally talented starting pitcher, as the visitors give the ball to Charlie Morton who managed to keep his ERA at 3.88. Even though the two players are separated by more than one point, they both require minimal runs of support and can pull out amazing victories. Charlie has his own issues against St. Louis and lost all three recent starts against them, but the main reason of concern is the fact that his teammates are not doing particularly well offensively.
All in all this promises to be an intense battle between the starting pitchers with Adam Wainwright being favorite to prevail, but he can’t single-handedly defeat the Pirates. In order to win, the Cardinals will need to have him on the mound for at least six innings, because the bullpen is shaky and causes them to lose many points lately. Punters are surely disappointed by the fact that the odds for a home victory stand at a puny 1.60 so they have to decide between two equally unappealing alternatives.
One would be to back St. Louis to cover the spread of 1.5 runs with odds exceeding even the value, while the second being the trust Charlie Morton and the Pittsburgh. The advantage for this bet is that the odds revolve around the value of 2.60 which makes the Pirates clearly overpriced. The difference between the two teams is minimal and although Adam Wainwright has a slight edge over Morton, things could go either way and these odds are worth the coin flip.