Through the first five weeks of the season, these are probably the two biggest overachievers in MLB.
The Mets have stormed out to an incredible 24-14 start, and that’s without their ace Jacob deGrom on the staff. deGrom is still recovering from a shoulder injury, but he is expected to make his return soon enough.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals lineup is mashing. They just destroyed Carlos Rodon and have been one of the best offenses in baseball over the last two weeks.
St. Louis will throw out Dakota Hudson on the mound, and he is still a question mark for me. He’ll face Chris Bassitt, who has been a stud in the early going.
Who has the edge?
Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this National League battle.
St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Mets Odds
A total of 7 sure seems low for two offenses in the zone.
But it’s no surprise that the Mets are laying over -150 on the ML in this spot. Bassitt has just been better recently, and the Mets have won five of his seven starts this season.
Don’t overlook Hudson, however. He’s gotten his ERA down to 3.06 after a couple of solid starts, most recently shutting out the Giants over five innings.
St. Louis is a surprising 10-9 this season as an underdog. So, you have to wonder if the road dog provides value in this spot.
St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
2B Tommy Edman S
1B Paul Goldschmidt R
3B Nolan Arenado R
DH Juan Yepez R
C Y. Molina R
RF Daniel Carlson S
LF Tyler O’Neill R
SS Billy Donovan L
CF Harrison Bader R
St. Louis Cardinals vs Chris Bassitt
Bassitt was always a question mark for me entering the season. He was so inconsistent in Oakland, I wasn’t sure how he’d shine under the bright lights of New York.
So far, Bassitt has answered the call. Seven starts, 42 ⅓ innings, and a 2.34 ERA. His xERA is only moderately higher at 3.01, and his xFIP sits around 3.50 with a strikeout rate near 10 K/9 and a home run rate south of 0.9 HR/9.
Bassitt’s BABIP is slightly low (.260), and his strand rate will probably come down (87.3%), but it’s hard to argue with what he’s done so far.
Bassitt tosses a solid six-pitch mix that’s headlined by a 92mph sinker (thrown 26.7% of the time), but by keeping hitters off-balance, he’s kept exit velocities exceedingly low. His 83.4mph avg. exit velocity allowed ranks in the 98th percentile of qualified pitchers so far in 2022.
Bassitt has always been good at suppressing hard-hit balls, but he’s reaching new heights in New York.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
But if I were Bassitt, I’d advise extreme caution against this Cardinals offense. Over the last two weeks, the Cardinals have posted the fourth-best wRC+ mark in the league (130). They’re getting on base (.355 OBP) and hitting for power (.455 SLG). It’s a dangerous group.
The first Cardinals hitter you’d think of is Nolan Arenado, who is having a fine season. However, I’d like to bring light to two others not getting enough praise.
First, Tommy Edman. Edman has recently surpassed Arenado as the Cardinals’ leader in bWAR (2.6) and has failed to reach base just once in May.
Second, Paul Goldschmidt. On April 21, Goldschmidt’s OPS fell to a pathetic .466. He’s posted a 1.089 OPS in the 25 games since with 5 HRs, 11 doubles, and 22 RBIs. A 10-to-20 BB:K ratio doesn’t hurt either, but he’s slugging a whopping .650 during the stretch.
New York Mets Starting Lineup
CF Brandon Nimmo L
SS Francisco Lindor S
2B Jeff McNeil L
1B Pete Alonso R
LF Mark Canha R
DH Dominic Smith L
3B Eduardo Escobar S
RF Travis Jankowski L
C Tomas Nido R
New York Mets vs Dakota Hudson
While Hudson has been solid this season, there are plenty of concerning variables to dig into.
For starters, Hudson is walking almost as many hitters as he’s striking out. He’s posted a 5.09 K/9 and a 4.33 BB/9 through 35 ⅓ innings this season, and his 2% K-BB rate has produced a FIP over 5.00.
And when he does allow contact, it’s been hard. Hudson’s avg. exit velocity allowed is north of 90mph, and he ranks in just the 27th percentile of qualified pitchers this season. The only thing saving him is a BABIP under .250, which also indicates major negative regression.
Plus, Hudson’s Savant page is disgusting.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
You can forgive Hudson. He’s coming off Tommy John and is still settling in. Maybe his stuff will come around, but there’s no question he’s only succeeding thanks to Lady Luck.
I’m curious how Hudson’s skill set will match up with this Mets offense.
It’s good for Hudson that the Mets don’t hit the ball hard. New York’s lineup ranks among the bottom 10 MLB teams in avg. exit velocity, hard-hit rate, and barrel rate. This team is not one to smoke the ball.
However, the Mets have succeeded largely because of their plate discipline. The Mets have posted the third-lowest whiff rate and the lowest strikeout rate among MLB teams this season, and Hudson’s proclivity for walks and avoidance of strikeouts doesn’t bode well.
St. Louis Cardinals vs New York Mets Pick & Prediction
My pick: Over 7 (-114 at FanDuel)
Both these pitchers are overachieving and due for negative regression. Hudson is due for a whole lot more, but the Cardinals’ offense is crushing the ball and will find ways to smack Bassitt around.
I also believe in the Mets’ offense. It’s not a prototypical approach, but the consistency with which New York gets on base provides a distinct mismatch against Hudson’s control issues. With their issues, the Mets are tied for sixth this season in wRC+ (110).
The Mets have an undeniably good bullpen. But the Cardinals do not, as St. Louis ranks 24th in reliever xFIP this season (4.03). New York could tag on a few runs at the end of the game to get us over this obscenely low number.
Sharp money has already hit this over, pushing it to 7.5 at some books. I’ll play it at that number, but I would much rather have over 7 at -120 or better.