Major League Baseball Handicapping Preview: Florida Marlins at Saint Louis Cardinals

Florida Marlins (18-10) AT Saint Louis Cardinals (17-13)
May 4, 2011 at 8:15 PM EST
Opening Moneyline:  STL -200, FLA +170
Current Moneyline:  STL -188, FLA +178
Opening Total:  7.5
Current Total:  7.5

SP:  FLA- Javier Vazquez (R), STL- Chris Carpenter (R)

Chris Carpenter was projected to have a 3.21 ERA by Baseball Prospectus' PECOTA projections

Matt Holliday has come along to save a struggling Cardinals’ offense by hitting a league best .409.  He went 2 of 5 on Tuesday while hitting his 4th homer of the season and extending his hitting streak to 9 games.  It was Daniel Descalso’s hit that saved the day, however, as he hit his first career homer to give the Cardinals the 7-5 victory over the Marlins.

Descalso downplayed the home run, commenting “I’m not a big home run guy.  I just go up there and try to put a line drive swing on it, and every once in a while they jump out of the park.”

Still, for as bad as Albert Pujols has been, the Cardinals still lead the majors in runs scored with 161 (5.36 a game) and as a team they are hitting .293.  Pujols went 0 of 5 on Tuesday and his average is now a lowly .231.  He hasn’t had an extra base hit in the last nine games.

Cardinals Manager Tony La Russa was encouraging of the struggling MVP.   “As long as he doesn’t get discouraged,” La Russa said. “He’ll be fine because he’s smart and tough-minded. He won’t allow himself to be less than his best.”

The Marlins are going to send Javier Vazquez to the mound.  He’s 2-2 on the season but has a pathetic 6.39 ERA.  He hasn’t been his usual overpowering self and gave up 4 runs, 4 hits in 6 innings while fanning 3.  He did hit well though, going 2 for 2 with 1 RBI.  It’s a rare contribution from pitchers, but Dusty Baker has come to expect it from him.

Chris Carpenter takes the mound for the Cardinals.  His last outing he gave up 3 runs and 10 hits in 7 innings, still a quality start, and the Cards won the game 5-3 in 11 innings.  In his last 2 starts against the Florida Marlins he is 0-1 with a 5.25 ERA.  Carpenter was projected to have a 9-5 record with a 3.27 ERA.  He’s within range of that, but will need to get more run production when he pitches to get a better record.

Some betting trends:

The total has gone OVER in 5 of Florida’s last 6 games and the Marlins are 13-5 SU in their last 18 games.  The total has gone OVER in 4 of the Marlins’ last 5 on the road and the Marlins are 6-3 SU in their last 9 games against the St. Louis Cardinals.  The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Florida’s last 10 games on the road against the Cardinals while the Marlins are 4-2 SU in their last 6 road games against the Cardinals.

St. Louis is 5-2 SU in their last 7 games and the total has gone OVER in 7 of their last 8 games. St. Louis is 5-2 SU in their last 7 home games and the Cardinals are 3-6 SU in their last 9 games against the Florida Marlins.  The total has gone UNDER in 7 of the Cardinals’ last 10 games at home against the Marlins while the Cardinals are 2-4 SU in their last 6 games at home against Florida.

Given Javier Vasquez’ struggles it’s easy to see why the Cardinals are favored in this game.  Carpenter has pitched well enough that the Cards should be able to provide him enough run production for him to record a victory tonight.

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