With the Brewers taking down the Orioles last night, the Brew Crew has crawled its way back to .500. Nott a major accomplishment six games into the season, but it’s a starting point.
The offense isn’t there yet for Milwaukee, but the pitching continues to be the best in MLB.
Meanwhile, the Redbirds have come out the gate red-hot. No team in baseball has a higher wRC+ than the Cardinals through five games, with St. Louis having posted a 152 mark. The Cards’ .874 OPS also paces the league and they’ve done it all with a mediocre .274 BABIP.
The Cards will throw out ace Adam Wainwright for this matchup, and Uncle Charlie is still pitching at a top level in his 40th year. Meanwhile, the Brewers will start Brandon Woodruff, who should compete for Cy Young votes this season.
Let’s break down the starting lineups, betting odds, and give out my prediction for this NL Central matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers.
St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Milwaukee Brewers Betting Odds
The Brewers are obviously the better team and are projected to win the division about 85% of the time.
However, I’m surprised the Brewers are such big favorites given Wainwright is on the mound for St. Louis and the Cardinals lineup has been destroying the ball. The Cards have started the season 3-1 and don’t look to be slowing down.
So, is it worth taking a shot with the Redbirds at plus money?
St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
RF D. Carlson S
1B P. Goldschmidt R
LF T. O’Neill R
3B N. Arenado R
DH C. Dickerson L
SS P. DeJong R
C Y. Molina R
CF H. Bader R
2B T Edman S
St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Brandon Woodruff
Most MLB teams are likely jealous of the Brewers tossing out Woodruff as a No. 2 starter.
Because Woodruff posting a 2.52 ERA and a 3.05 FIP would make him the ace on half the clubs in the show. He’s a legit star with a K/9 over 10.5 and a high 90s fastball that keeps exit velocities down below 86mph.
That’s a killer combination.
His best pitch last year was his curveball, however, which held opponents to a .155 wOBA and an 84.9mph avg. exit velocity. He doesn’t toss it much, but he usually can set it up with his four-seam or sinker and get guys to swing and miss.
We're seeing Brandon Woodruff use his curveball more than ever before. Hasn't allowed a single hit with it this season. pic.twitter.com/GpjkI6XCFn
— Nick Pollack (@PitcherList) April 20, 2021
The Cardinals got to Woodruff a bit last season, as he barely kept his ERA under 4.00 in four starts against the Redbirds. He got a bit unlucky, as his xFIP was down around 3.30.
But this Cardinals offense is quite good. Paul Goldschmidt still has as much pop as anyone in the league. Tommy Edman has a 1.150 OPS five games into the season. Nolan Arenado is the hottest early-season batter in baseball and Tyler O’Neill is continuing on his Hall of Fame pace.
So, it’s okay for Woodruff to slightly underperform against a run-producer like the Cardinals.
The question is if Milwaukee’s bats can provide enough run support for Woodruff and the bullpen.
Milwaukee Brewers Starting Lineup
2B K. Wong L
SS W. Adames R
LF C. Yelich L
DH A. McCutchen R
1B R.Tellez L
RF H. Renfroe R
C O.Narvaez L
CF L. Cain R
3B J. Peterson L
Milwaukee Brewers Vs. Adam Wainwright
After improving on the lineup in the offseason and hunting for positive regression following a disastrous 2021 year, the Brewers bats haven’t woken up yet.
Milwaukee is averaging a measly 2.8 runs per game through their first five games, and the Brewers have been shut out twice in that span.
Brewers fans are having flashbacks to last season.
Those fans likely won’t get any reprieve against Wainwright. The 40-year-old has solidified him as the second-best 40+-year-old in sports behind Tom Brady.
Wainwright made 32 starts last season, eclipsed the 200 innings mark, and pitched to a 3.05 ERA in the process. He also anchored an injured rotation and was one of the biggest pieces in the Cardinals’ late-season run to the playoffs. He finished with 3.8 WAR.
Wainwright proceeded to throw 5 ⅓ scoreless innings against the best lineup in baseball (Dodgers) in a win-or-go-home wildcard game. The Cardinals fell short, but everyone in baseball recognized Wainwright’s excellence.
Folks, I don’t know if this run is over. Wainwright debuted as the Cardinals’ Opening Day starter and pitched six scoreless innings in a win against the Pirates. He struck out six, walked none, and pitched to a 1.76 xFIP.
Adam Wainwright, Pretty 89mph Front Door Sinker. 🚪 pic.twitter.com/021ivZdcG4
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 7, 2022
You’re going to see a lot of that sinker, as he throws it more than a third of the time. He pairs it with an air-bending curveball that held hitters to a .253 wOBA last season.
Wainwright has seen the division-rival Brewers a whole lot over the years. In fact, this will be his 50th career start against Milwaukee.
Last season was actually not his best performance against the Brewers. He pitched to a 3.62 ERA but significantly overperformed his expected metrics, with his xFIP being over 5.00 in the five starts.
St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Milwaukee Brewers Picks & Prediction
My pick: St. Louis Cardinals ML (+135 at Fox Bet)
With a red-hot offense and Waino on the mound, a shot with the Cardinals is too enticing to pass up.
The Brewers have Woodruff on the mound and a massive advantage in the bullpen – FanGraphs projects Milwaukee as the second-best bullpen in MLB – but can the bats support the arms enough?
I doubt it. The Brewers have posted just an 88 wRC+ and a .642 OPS through the first week of the season. They managed just two runs on Wednesday against a rather pitiful Orioles pitching staff, failing to take advantage of a struggling John Means.
With Woodruff and the Milwaukee bullpen, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Brewers shut out the Cardinals. But given recent performance, St. Louis should be priced closer to EV than this.
I’ll be the inefficiency.