The Breakfast Spread: Sunday Night Baseball In St. Louis

(USA TODAY Sports)`

The temperature is warming in St. Louis as the Cardinals play host to the Atlanta Braves for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN. Sunday’s game will decide the series — after the Cardinals were victorious Saturday night. Here’s a sports betting recap of the series thus far and a look ahead to tonight’s matchup.

For six innings, the Cardinals struggled to get out of the gates versus Braves’ starter Mike Soroka on Saturday evening. Soroka and teammate, Anthony Swarzak, combined for seven strikeouts and one earned run as the Braves held a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the 8th inning. Enter Dan Winkler for the Braves…

Jedd Gyorko stepped in as a pinch hitter with two men on and one out. Gyorko crushed Winkler’s 91.1 MPH cutter for his first home run of the season and the difference in the game. The Cardinals held on to win 6-3 — giving Andrew Miller his second win of the season after Jordan Hicks converted his tenth save.

The Cardinals cashed +100 tickets with the victory. Despite the three-run blast, the Cardinals fell short of the implied 9.5 total. On Sunday night, the Cardinals are healthy -142 favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook behind starter Jack Flaherty. The implied total is set at 9 runs at the time of this writing and the Cardinals carry a +134 price on the -1.5 runs line.

Stat of the Night

Despite the Braves’ losing effort, second-year starter Mike Soroka turned in another strong performance. Soroka struck out five Cardinals over six innings and only allowed six base-runners. He only allowed one earned run — meaning he is the first starter since 2008 to start the season with eight straight starts with one earned run or less.

Pitching Primer

On Sunday night, Jack Flaherty toes the rubber for the Cardinals as a -143 favorite. Flaherty made ten starts so far for the Cardinals in 2019. His surface numbers seem in line with his previous two seasons with the Cardinals — with a couple of peripheral statistics giving pause. A dip in ground ball percentage (from 42.1% to 38.6%) and a boost to hard-hit percentage (from 36.1% to 40.4%) could explain the early boost to ERA (4.19) and HR/9 (1.5). Flaherty pitched against the Braves in Atlanta recently — pitching six innings while striking out six and wiggling out of trouble with five walks. The Cardinals won the game — more so due to the 14-run explosion by the offense than the Houdini-like pitching effort by Flaherty.

On the other side, Julio Teheran takes the bump for the Braves. Unlike Flaherty, the jury is no longer out on Teheran in his seventh season as a fixture in the Braves’ rotation. Teheran can pile up strikeouts but struggles with hard-contact, fly balls, and keeping the ball in the ballpark. The expected 80-degree temperature at first pitch is not a good recipe for pitchers like Teheran who tend to keep the ball in the air — with a 40.9 FB% throughout his career.

On a positive note for Teheran, he has struggled more against left-handed hitters throughout his career — even if the line of demarcation between those splits is blurring as the years pass by. Julio boasts a 24.8 K% versus righties throughout his career while possessing a putrid 17.3 K% versus lefties. Walks become an issue also as his respectable 4.3 BB% against righties balloons to 10.7% against lefties. So wait, what is positive? The Cardinals trot out a right-handed heavy lineup every day — usually only starting three left-handed hitters in Dexter Fowler, Matt Carpenter, and Kolten Wong.

Prop Shop: Matt Carpenter to Hit a Home Run on FanDuel Sportsbook

FanDuel Sportsbook unquestionably boasts the best variety of props for most sports — certainly for a single baseball game. Tonight, nearly every player on both rosters has a home run prop — possibly even a bat boy or two. Since home runs are extremely variant, I am very interested in a good matchup with a good price.

For the home team, the slow start for Matt Carpenter may have resulted in a drop in the batting order this weekend — but with respect to home runs, bettors should not be fearful. While the +400 price is not ideal, Carpenter’s peripheral statistics versus righties this season could make the price a bargain — especially with this temperature. This season, Carpenter’s fly ball rate (48.6%) and hard-hit rate (41.8%) versus right-handed pitching do not line up with his measly 9.4 HR/FB%. For reference, Carpenter’s HR/FB% versus righties in the past three calendar years is 14.5%.

Something will give eventually and the price for a Carpenter home run will get worse as the temperature increases. Let’s jump on him against fly ball heavy Julio Teheran.

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The Breakfast Pick

With the blowup risk carrier by Julio Teheran and the fact that the Braves just scored three runs on Flaherty despite the starter issuing five walks — pegging a winner for this game feels like a bit of a coin toss. With that said, the +124 ML price on the Braves interests me more than the Cardinals’ side.

The conviction, though, is minimal when selecting a winner. That said, the warm temperature and aforementioned pitching concerns pique my interest in the implied run total. The +102 price on the over at the time of this writing is a bit puzzling considering the price on the over for 4.5 innings is -136 on FanDuel Sportsbook. Neither bullpen is stellar — both sitting at the middle of the pack or worse in terms of ERA. Let’s go over for the game. Breakfast Lean: Game Total Over 9 Runs +102

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