I notched my first victory of the season on Monday night as my pick of Houston to knock off the visiting Angels by two runs prevailed. Charlie Morton continued his excellent pitching to begin the campaign as he hurled five shutout innings while walking two and striking out three to grab his first win as a member of the Astros despite now carrying a 2.81 ERA on the season. The Astros offense scored three runs in support of Morton and the bullpen as Houston took this one by a 3-0 count. That said, let’s keep the wins coming with tonight’s free MLB pick!
Season Record: 1-2 Units: -0.64 units
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers
MY PICK: CARDINALS (-120) *Risking 1.20 units to win 1 unit*
The first free pick of the evening will take aim at an NL Central clash between the Milwaukee Brewers and visiting St. Louis Cardinals. While the Cardinals have gotten off to a rough start and have struggled to score runs, I believe the pitching matchup here is totally in the Cardinals favor as they send Carlos Martinez to the mound opposite Brewers’ right-hander Zach Davies.
Martinez has had an interesting season so far where has thrown a complete gem over 7.1 shutout innings with ten strikeouts on opening day, followed by a five earned run performance over five inning performance, followed by a 5.1 inning effort in which he walked a whopping eight batters but also struck out 11 and allowed just two earned runs. So, what Martinez do we get tonight? I am banking on more of the Martinez we saw last season. The guy who struck out 8.02 batters per nine innings while inducing ground-balls an excellent 56.4% of the time. That is especially important tonight given the hitting-friendly confines of Miller Park once the ball is hit into the air. Martinez has posted ground-ball rates over 50% and a strikeout rate over 8 K/9 in each of the last three seasons, however his Achilles heel continues to be the base on balls as he has walked 3.16 batters per nine or more in those last three seasons. Regardless, he absolutely dominates right-handed hitters, surrendering just a .204 batting average and a .539 OPS to righties last season and could see as many as six right-handed bats in the Brewers lineup tonight. It should also be noted that Martinez was a better pitcher on the road last season, pitching to an impressive 2.45 ERA on the road compared to 3.60 at home. All of the above bodes well for the ground-ball specialist this evening.
The Cardinals should be able to score some runs tonight against the struggling Zach Davies. Davies enters play tonight sporting an 8.79 ERA with a 5.03 BB/9 clip. While his .380 BABIP against points to some bad luck as the culprit, his 4.87 FIP and 5.27 xFIP suggest he has deserved most of his fate. Davies allowed more than 1 HR/9 to both sides of the plate last season and allowed 1.25 HR/9 at home compared to just 0.81 on the road. Davies has a 3.96 career ERA and 3.57 FIP on the road, however he boasts a career ERA of 4.44 and a career FIP of 4.16 at Miller Park, where he will start tonight.
With the pitching matchup leaning heavily with the Cardinals I will be locking them in at a solid price this evening.