NLCS Picks: Saint Louis Cardinals vs. Milwaukee Brewers Free Betting Preview

After directing some harsh words toward Cardinals' starter Chris Carpenter, Zack Greinke will take the mound for the Brewers in Game One of the NLCS
The Cardinals and Brewers will face off in the NL Championship Series beginning at 4 PM on Sunday afternoon. While the Cardinals did knock out the favored team in the MLB playoffs, Milwaukee presents a host of challenges that they did not encounter against the Phillies. For this reason, MLB Oddsmakers have set the line for both game one and for the series, in the Brewers favor. With such a potent offense and decent pitching, the Brewers promise to be a tough foe for both the Cardinals, and for the Tigers or Rangers, should they advance past this series. All Betting odds are taken from Bodog.

Game One Moneyline: STL (137/100), MIL (25/38)
Game One Total: 7.5
Series Odds: STL (6/5), MIL (5/7)

Last series, I encouraged bettors to place a speculative bet on the 5/2 series odds for the Cardinals. I am not advocating such against the Brewers.

Why?

First off, the Brewers won 5 more games at home than any other team in the majors (57). Add to that the fact that the heart of the Brewers lineup has been devestating to opponents this season, already, and the Cards have a lot to worry about.

The Cardinals will send lefty Jaime Garcia to the mound to try to slow the Brew Crew down. For the season, Garcia finished with a 13-7 record and a 3.56 ERA, which was a regression from last year’s 2.70 ERA. While he has never been a true strikeout dominant pitcher (156 Ks in 194.2 IP this season), his opponents’ batting average this season rose from .243 last season to a far less impressive .273 this year.

Garcia did record a quality start in the 2-3 loss to Philly on October 4th. That night, he pitched 7 innings and gave up 3 ER (which is the bare minimum for a quality start, of course). Prior to that loss, he had won three straight decisions and the Cardinals had won 4 of his last 5 starts.

In 33 starts this season, Garcia gave up multiple homers only once, in a June 30th 9-6 victory over Baltimore. Will he be able to continue that trend against a Brewers team that features three heavy sluggers in Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Rickie Weeks, and Cory Hart? All four players hit 20 or more home runs (Weeks, 20; Hart, 26; Braun, 33; and Fielder, 38). Also, Braun hit .332 from the plate this season, the highest batting average he has posted for his career. So, with apparent ease, you can see the problems that Garcia and the rest of the Cardinals staff is going to have with the Brewers’ hot hitting lineup.

Per Yahoo! Sports, Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke has been running his mouth about the demeanor of Cards’ hurler Chris Carpenter on the mound, saying that “he yells at people…stares people down…a lot of the guys on our team don’t like Carpenter.” Be that as it may, it will be Carpenter who could help make a difference for the Cards in this series.

Why don’t I think the Cards will be able to win this? Well, for starters, last series I commented that the Cardinals have three high quality pitchers in tonight’s starter Garcia (3.56 ERA), Chris Carpenter (3.45), and Kyle Lohse (3.39). While having three quality pitchers IS a boon, this is a best of 7 series, thus the winner must win four times.

That is one more time than the Cardinals have in solid starters, so it is going to require  Edwin Jackson to step up.  Jackson posted a 3.79 ERA on the year – nearly as good as the top 3, so to some degree he does legitimize the Cards staff as having four quality starters.

The Cardinals are going to miss  Westbrook.   The 6’3″ former Indians pitcher is now 44 years old, and well past his prime. Still, Westbrook managed to log 183 innings pitched this year and gave up only 16 homers in 33 appearances. The Cardinals could obviously benefit from having Westbrook in the lineup.

The fact remains that this series is all about a few factors:

a) Milwaukee’s home field advantage
b) Milwaukee’s impressive offfense
c) The Cardinals’ lack of pitching depth

Those three factors should help the Brewers win, though they are only slight favorites for the series at 5/7. Also, the updated odds for the World Series winner has the Brewers at 11/5, while the Cardinals are 3/1. Bettors should feel confident backing the Brewers for this series. Also, the ‘over’ is attractive for game one, at 7.5. Because it is at home, I expect the Brewers to nearly eclipse that total without any help from the Cardinals at all.

With a well informed view of how this series should shake out, bettors may be inclined to back up a bet at Bodog, where they offer 10% bonuses on deposits and an excellent free cashout system.

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