Cardinals vs Braves Odds
|More less||7.5 (-104 / -118)|
|Time||7:08 p.m. ET|
Sunday Night Baseball will feature the second game of a seven-inning doubles program between the Cardinals and the Braves.
The Braves already hold a 2-0 lead in this series, with a 4-1 win on Thursday and a 9-1 win on Friday. Both teams were beaten on Saturday and will play a day-to-night dual schedule on Sunday, with Game 1 starting at 2:10 p.m. ET and the night game starting at 7:08 p.m. ET.
The Cardinals fell into a lull in June, going 5-11 and a -39 points differential. They currently sit fourth in NL Central, 3.5 games behind the pace, but their expected Pythagorean record is only 31-39.
The Braves are just 7-9 in June, but they have a +6 points differential in that span and have an expected 34-33 record this season. Despite some luck, Atlanta is just 5.5 games behind the division-leading Mets in the NL East race.
The Braves (+130) and Cardinals (+110) were each favorites to win their respective divisions early in the season, but at this point one or both teams are in danger of missing the playoffs.
Therefore, these one-on-one clashes are crucial for wild card purposes, even with more than half a season to go.
Who has the advantage on Sunday night?
The Cardinals have a cool but poor enclosure
I mentioned this recently, but it bears repeating; the most interesting thing about the Cardinals’ 2021 season is their combination of an extremely unlucky attack (.294 wOBA, .320 xwOBA) with an equally lucky pitching staff (.309 wOBA, .336 xWOBA).
These big gaps in expected measurements have persisted for most of the season, and I’m starting to suspect that Busch Stadium – which may have installed one of these five secret humidifiers this season – is largely to blame for these differences from expected stats.
Last week I also discussed how Harrison Bader’s injury skews the Cardinals’ defensive lineup. St. Louis led the entire MLB in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) last season (+36) but fell to ninth place this year (+20) and would rank closer to 11 without Bader’s contributions.
The bullpen (5.03 xFIP, 9.0% K-BB%) ranks among the worst in baseball, alongside a starting staff (4.66 xFIP, 9.9% K-BB% ) who experienced similar difficulties. They walk too many hitters (highest in the league, 11.4%) but haven’t necessarily paid for those free base runners.
Offensively, the Cardinals’ plate discipline has ranked closer to the league average, and their .271 BABIP suggests a positive regression going forward, regardless of the cellar situation.
The bullpen is relatively cool for Sunday’s doubles schedule, as their workhorse relievers (Genesis Cabrera, Giovanny Gallegos, Ryan Helsley and Alex Reyes) have all appeared in more than 30 games this season, and Andrew Miller no. ‘has each launched only once in the past five days.
Kwang Hyun Kim (4.50 xERA, 4.27 xFIP, 4.44 SIERA) improved his strike rate and strikeout rate over last year while maintaining a ground ball rate of about 50%.
He’s an average starting pitcher for the league, and the Braves’ offense has been average against lefties (101 wRC +).
The brave have an elite attack
Conversely, the struggling Cardinals’ offense fared much better against lefties (107 wRC +) than righties (84 wRC +), with the option to start nine right-handed or switch hitters in their regular roster.
That could pose a problem for Braves starter Drew Smyly, who has struggled this season (5.66 xERA, 4.99 xFIP, 4.68 SIERA) after a year of career in 2020 with the Giants. Smyly’s K-BB% dropped from 29.7% to 11.8%, year over year his fast ball speed is down more than a full tick and his hard hit rate (44.9%) reached a career high.
Smyly’s 2020 season is clearly the outlier of his statistical profile:
The Atlanta Offensive (0.340 xwOBA) ranks among the top three expected units, although they must replace Marcell Ozuna in the short term after his arrest for domestic violence.
Abraham Almonte (.422 wOBA, .374 xwOBA) has done an admirable job in left field which has been vital since the triple Gold Glover Ender Inciarte (.253 xwOBA in 2020, .234 xwOBA this season; +1 DRS on this season period) really struggled to do anything and may eventually need to be replaced on his list.
The Atlanta reliever pen (4.47 xFIP, 13.9% K-BB%) performed like a last-10 unit, but still not as bad as the Cardinals’ backup weapon group.
They also rank among the last 10 defensive teams (-2 DRS), receiving hits from Almonte (-4), Guillermo (-4) and William Contreras (-5).
Surprisingly, Ozuna’s (+4) move to Almonte was huge, and the Braves had a harder time replacing Ozuna’s glove than his bat.
Despite his reputation for making excruciating plays in the outfield, Ozuna has actually ranked well above average (+14) since joining the corner full-time in 2017; it was a real disaster (-17 DRS) on the Marlins’ central field in 2016.
The Braves are an imperfect team that saw their starting pitching depth plummet, but their offense (apart from a healthy Mets or Dodgers team) could be the best in the NL right now. . An Elite unit is enough to build, especially if they’re ready to add Enclosure Parts before the trade deadline.
I projected the Cardinals as a 48.4% underdog in this game, but the moneyline price looks about right; I would need +116 or better to bet on the Cardinals. The seven-set format certainly helps, but the longer this game lasts, the better the Braves’ chances of victory.
I set the game total at 7.07 strokes, and I plan slight value on less than 7.5 at any plus-money price point.
Furthermore, I set the Cardinals’ F5 odds at 54.5%, and I’m projecting the value of their F5 moneyline to -106 or better.
Depending on the progress of match 1 of this double program and the specific situation of the composition of match 2, I may seek to increase my risk on either of these bets.
Take: Cardinals F5 (+100, 0.5u) | Less than 7.5 (+100, 0.5u)