This is a star-studded matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays.
Not only are both teams stacked with stars, but this is also a top-tier pitching matchup. The old man Adam Wainwright will face off against Toronto’s new ace in Kevin Gausman.
Adding to the intrigue – both Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are unvaccinated and illegible to play in Toronto. Wow.
Given all this, where does the value lie?
Read on for the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for this Monday’s matchup.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Toronto Blue Jays Odds
It seems obvious that the Blue Jays would be massive favorites in this game. The two biggest stars for St. Louis are back at home. Plus, while Wainwright is still a menace in his elder years, Gausman has been on a different level this season.
You’ll have to look elsewhere if you want to back the Blue Jays, likely on the spread.
However, I think the under might be worth a look. The number is still hanging around 8 with the Cardinals shorthanded. While the Blue Jays can mash, Wainwright is still pretty adept at making long, quality starts.
St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup
SS T. Edman S
CF D. Carlson S
LF T. O’Neill R
1B A. Pujols R
2B B. Donovan L
3B N. Gorman L
RF L. Nootbaar L
DH C. Dickerson L
C A. Knizner R
St. Louis Cardinals vs Kevin Gausman
There are four pitchers in MLB with an fWAR over 3.5 this season. Sandy Alcantara, Max Fried, Carlos Rodon, and Gausman.
But after a dominant early stretch, Gausman has slowed down considerably.
Gausman had a 2.25 ERA at the end of May and was way ahead in the pitching WAR rankings. Since then, he’s posted a rather mediocre 3.98 ERA. The Blue Jays are only 3-6 in his nine starts during that stretch. For an offense as potent as Toronto, that’s not a good look.
But if you look under the hood, it’s been a bit unfortunate. Gausman’s BABIP during that time is a whopping .417. He’s still striking out over 10.5 batters per nine innings and his FIP is down at 2.87.
I think we’ll see a big Gausman bounce-back soon here. Nothing has changed in his approach. His splitter is still dominant, and he ranks in the 99th percentile of pitchers in chase rate. His velocity has even gone up month-over-month this season.
Image credit: Baseball Savant
So, how do the Cardinals balance out without their two biggest bats in the lineup?
Well, everything will fall on the shoulders of Dylan Carlson and Tommy Edman. Those are the only two currently-healthy hitters in the regular nine-man lineup with an OPS+ over 100. I’d expect some Brendan Donovan (125 OPS+) and Nolan Gorman (107 OPS+), and both those guys represent hope.
But it’s still quite dim. Look at these other potential bats in the lineup:
- Andrew Knizner: 62 OPS+
- Edmundo Sosa: 49 OPS+
- Tyler O’Neil: 91 OPS+
- Albert Pujols: 99 OPS+
Additionally, Gausman has shut down this lineup in the past. In 67 lifetime PAs against current Toronto hitters, Gausman has allowed just 10 hits with 16 strikeouts and no walks. That adds up to a .156 average and a .156 slugging.
Toronto Blue Jays Starting Lineup
CF G. Springer R
SS B. Bichette R
1B V. Guerrero R
DH A. Kirk R
RF T. Hernandez R
LF L. Gurriel R
3B M. Chapman R
2B S. Espinal R
C D. Jansen R
Toronto Blue Jays vs Adam Wainwright
There’s nothing else you can expect from Wainwright but consistency. He’s just so consistent, start-in and start-out.
Waino has made 11 starts of six-plus innings this season and seven of seven-plus innings. That includes a complete game. He’s done so with an ERA in the low-3.00s and a ground-ball rate close to 50%.
Waino doesn’t miss bats anymore, and he relies entirely on crafty pitch-making to collect outs. And when his curveball is working, he does so wildly efficiently. That curveball still ranks close to the 90th percentile in spin rate, so it’s not pathetic.
Otherwise, expect a cutter-sinker combo that tries to force weak contact. Waino has been fairly consistent at doing that, but he’s certainly not elite.
There is not much to say about the Blue Jays. They mash the ball. The lineup is near the top of MLB in every meaningful offensive statistic.
However, the offense might be slightly overvalued after that series in Boston. The Jays swept the Sox in Fenway and scored 40 runs in just three games in the process. They also just socred 10 runs on the Cardinals in the first game of this series.
While that gives the Jays a 1.064 OPS and a 199 wRC+ over the past week, those are unsustainable numbers.
St. Louis Cardinals vs Toronto Blue Jays Pick & Prediction
My picks: Under 8.5 (-115 at BetMGM)
This is a stale 8.5 while the rest of the market is still at 8. That already gives this number value.
But, I like the under in general. I’ve talked at length about the ability of these two pitchers, but there are a few other factors pushing me towards the under.
Firstly, the unvaccinated status of Arenado and Goldschmidt. Obviously.
Secondly, both these teams are elite defensively. The Blue Jays are fourth in Defensive Runs Saved this season while the Cardinals are sixth.
Thirdly, both bullpens are solid. Both rank exactly league-average in xFIP, and I don’t expect either to be exploited in this one.
Finally, as mentioned, the Blue Jays’ offense has to be slightly overvalued at the moment after destroying the Red Sox and dropping double-digit runs on Tuesday. The runs will not keep coming like this.
I’m looking for a low-scoring battle in Toronto on Wednesday evening.