The A’s and Cardinals have probably both accepted that the 2023 MLB playoffs are not in their future, but that doesn’t mean they have nothing to play for. The teams’ seasons may be done, but there are still players on both sides with plenty to prove, whether that’s to their current club or to potential new destinations. Let’s take a look at the odds from this matchup, where my prediction is for the Cardinals to cover a spread of -1.5
Athletics Vs. Cardinals Prediction
Although this is more or less a lost season, the Cardinals have been playing some better ball of late. They have won four of their past five games, including a surprising series win in Tampa against the Rays, and the first game of this three-game set with Oakland. Now, with the opportunity to win the series, the Cardinals will be starting Dakota Hudson, who was in the minors at the beginning of the season.
The stated purpose of assigning Hudson to AAA-ball was to build up some fastball velocity; it did not work, as his fastball is pretty much exactly where it was a year ago. Nevertheless, he is in the bigs anyways, where to his credit, he started off hot after a July callup. He has struggled of late, albeit against much better teams than Oakland- the Cubs, Twins, and Rays, all of whom could very conceivably make the postseason.
The A’s should be an easier task, they’re last in the league in both OPS and runs scored, so Hudson definitely has the opportunity to have a nice day. We don’t actually know who he will be opposing in terms of Oakland’s starting pitcher; nobody is listed as of about noon on gameday, so we can surmise that we could see a bullpen game of sorts from manager Mark Kotsay. That’s not the best news for Oakland, as they have the worst bullpen ERA in the sport, although the figure is a bit better than their league-worst overall ERA.
It’s really hard to invest in these A’s, even against a team like the Cardinals. Vegas understands this, and has installed St. Louis as fairly significant favorites, making their moneyline effectively unplayable. We’ll have to turn to a run spread and bet on St. Louis -1.5, which shouldn’t be much of a problem; if this ends up being a one-run game, that would be pretty surprising. For the scoring total, this one has to be an over. Hudson isn’t throwing too well, and we don’t know who will be throwing for Oakland, but we do know it won’t be an ace by any possible rationale.
Athletics Vs. Cardinals Prediction: Cardinals -1.5 (-115), o9.5 runs (-105)
Athletics Vs. Cardinals Odds
The Cardinals are big home favorites at -230, compared to +190 for the A’s. For a scoring total of 9.5, the over is -105 while the under is -115
Athletics Vs. Cardinals Key Matchups
Dakota Hudson vs. On-Base Threats
Hudson does a pretty good job of keeping the ball in the park, especially relative to some of his other metrics. Where he struggles is with baserunners, as he is saddled with an elevated WHIP driven more or less equally by issues with walks and base hits. The good news for Hudson is that the A’s are, unsurprisingly, one of the worst on-base squads in the sport, with their team OBP ranking 27th in the league, although just 5 points (.005) above the White Sox in dead last.
If things weren’t bad enough for Oakland, they’re made even worse by the fact that Ryan Noda is out with a broken jaw. It’s a truly unlucky injury that sidelines the first baseman, who has been the team’s best on-base man by a wide margin with a very solid .375 OBP across 90 games. With Noda out, the OBP leaders are rookie Zack Gelof, who has put up a figure of .336 over just 26 games, and Brent Rooker, who has a respectable total of .327. This lineup does not pose too much of a threat, even against an arm like Hudson who is struggling a bit. Tuesday’s matchup will be a welcome opportunity for him to get back on track, and the state of this offense is a major reason why I have the Cardinals covering the -1.5 spread in my Athletics vs. Cardinals prediction.
A’s Bullpen vs. Top Cardinals Bats
It’s hard to come up with a specific key matchup when we don’t know exactly who will be throwing for Oakland, but the way the Cardinals lineup is constructed, there’s a handful of guys who will be the main threats almost regardless of who’s on the mound. Two of those names are fairly obvious; star third baseman Nolan Arenado, and reigning NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt. Neither has been at their very best, but they’ve been the team’s two most consistent performers as the only hitters with over 110 games played.
Arenado is the team’s OPS leader with a mark of .837, as well as a team-high 24 home runs. The bats in the next spots on those leaderboards are a bit surprising, as neither is actually Goldschmidt. Lars Nootbaar is second in OPS with .830 in what has been a breakout season after a nice World Baseball Classic showing, and Nolan Gorman is tied with Arenado on the home run list. Catcher Willson Contreras also joins these four hitters with an OPS over .800, a very impressive mark for his position. This lineup isn’t the best St. Louis group in recent memory, but is better than the team’s record would suggest and can definitely get after Oakland’s makeshift pitching staff.
Athletics Vs. Cardinals Starting Lineups
Athletics Starting Lineup
LF E. Ruiz R
2B Z. Gelof R
RF S. Brown L
DH B. Rooker R
3B J. Díaz R
1B T. Soderstrom L
C S. Langeliers R
CF L. Butler L
SS N. Allen R
Cardinals Starting Lineup
SS T. Edman S
1B P. Goldschmidt R
3B N. Arenado R
C W. Contreras R
2B N. Gorman L
LF T. O’Neill R
CF L. Nootbaar L
RF J. Walker R
DH L. Baker R