The Philadelphia Phillies won a staggering 19 games in June. Behind a hot streak from noted June enthusiast Kyle Schwarber, the Phillies are back in the Wildcard race.
The St. Louis Cardinals continue to roll, exceeding everyone’s expectations behind a super hot offense. However, I’m unsure they’ll ever catch the Brewers in the NL Central race.
But they could make up some ground with a road series win here. Can the Cardinals do it?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my predictions for this Saturday’s matchup.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Philadelphia Phillies Odds
Kyle Gibson is not the ace of old. He’s struggled this season and isn’t catching as much respect in the betting markets as a result.
But the Phillies will still be favored in this game because the Redbirds have a rookie on the mound. But Matthew Liberatore might be undervalued in the betting markets due to his pure upside.
The total seems ridiculously high at 10, even though the wind is projected to be blowing straight out to right field at over 10mph.
St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
SS T. Edman S
2B B. Donovan L
1B P. Goldschmidt R
3B N. Arenado R
DH N. Gorman L
LF J. Yepez R
RF D. Carlson S
CF H. Bader R
C A. Knizner R
St. Louis Cardinals vs Kyle Gibson
Gibby’s managed to toss over 80 innings in his 15 starts, and the Phillies are 9-6 in those games. But it’s mostly been despite him.
A 4.48 ERA and 1.26 WHIP are nothing to stand by. Although he’s due for some slight positive regression with a 4.03 xERA and a FIP south of 4.00, I’m not sure what happened to the guy from Texas.
His ground-ball rate is down over 3% and is on track to stay below 50% for the first time since 2017. His exit velocity has remained steady, but his launch angle is up and that’s been enough to raise his xSLG 73 points year-over-year.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
The Cardinals have held steady as a top-10 offense. It’s hard not to when you have a one-two-three punch of Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, and Tommy Edman on your team.
Goldschmidt is playing out of his mind this season. His 1.054 OPS means he has an OPS+ of exactly 200, as he leads MLB in average (.342) and OBP (.424) while only Mike Trout and Yordan Alvarez are slugging higher than him (.630). He’s also got the NL lead in total bases as well (177).
The problem with Goldy is his defense. Just a year removed from his Gold Glove and he ranks 39th among 41 qualified first basemen in Outs Above Average.
That’s a storyline with this Cardinals team – the defense hasn’t been elite. The STL pitching staff generally overperforms because of the dominant defense behind them, but they’re nothing more than league average in both OAA and Defensive Runs Saved this season.
Philadelphia Phillies Starting Lineup
LF K. Schwarber L
1B R. Hoskins R
RF N. Castellanos R
DH D. Hall L
C J. Realmuto R
SS D. Gregorius L
CF O. Herrera L
3B A. Bohm R
2B B. Stott L
Philadelphia Phillies vs Matthew Liberatore
So, how will that affect their young starter today?
Liberatore came over from Tampa’s organization as a big boy lefty who will eat up innings and force ground balls. In 15 Triple-A starts with the Durham Bulls in 2019, Liberatore forced a 57% ground-ball rate.
In two years with St. Louis’ Triple-A squad, Liberatore posted a 38% ground-ball rate. He’s at 30% with the MLB squad through four starts, and it’s led to a whopping 6.35 xERA.
He’s gotten lucky with a .283 BABIP and a 90% strand rate, so Liberatore’s ERA is still just 4.00 flat. But unless he flips the script and gets guys to start topping the sinker – which has just a 5.1% Whiff rate this season also – things could be rough for the youngster.
Sadly, the Phillies are not the team you want to face right now. They rank sixth in SLG so far this month, crushing the fifth-most home runs during the stretch. It’s the offense that has allowed Philadelphia to get hot.
June is Schwarber’s month. He’s knocked 13 home runs and 28 RBIs in his last 29 games, walking 22 times as well. His OPS dropped below .700 for the only time on May 29, and he’s slashed .273/.394/.682 slash line for a 1.076 OPS in the games since.
But what will this team do without Bryce Harper? The offense may be able to carry water with the rest of the pieces, but I’m not sure it’ll be enough to make up 7.5 games on the Mets or four games on the Braves.
And the defense is horrendous. The Phillies rank 29th in Defensive Runs Saved this season and the primary reason is that their offensive replacements for Harper in the outfield are awful (see: Nick Castellanos). That’s taken a hit on the pitching staff, as well.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Philadelphia Phillies Pick & Prediction
My picks: St. Louis Cardinals ML (+114 at FanDuel Sportsbook)
I think Gibson is still overvalued in the betting markets because of his big-time name. But as a ground-ball pitcher who can’t force ground balls in front of a horrendous defense, I have no trust in him right now.
In the meantime, Liberatore is still young. He’s been horrific so far, but he’s always one adjustment away from figuring it all out. And the Phillies’ offense may be raking, but the lineup looks rather depleted without Harper holding on.
The Cardinals also have a slight advantage in the bullpen.
So, add it all together, and getting the Cardinals at plus-money is a good value play. I’d play it to +110.