(Paul DeJong photo courtesy Joe Puetz/USA TODAY Sports)
Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.
When and Where: Friday, July 19, Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio, 7:10 p.m. EDT.
Coming off one of his best starts of the season, Adam Wainwright has an opportunity to get back to the .500 mark Friday night when the St. Louis Cardinals continue their four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds.
Wainwright looks to carry home form to road
Wainwright (6-7, 3.99) has been around the .500 mark for most of the season and moved a step closer back to the break-even mark following a strong outing against Arizona on Sunday in which he scattered four hits and a walk while striking out seven in seven shutout innings of a 5-3 victory.
The right-hander showed no ill-effects from the back spasms that pushed his scheduled start back two days as he also moved into fourth on the club’s all-time wins list with No. 154.
“Adam’s a high expectation (guy), just like our club. He’s exactly what we want in that he’s always striving for more,” Cards manager Mike Shildt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “So, if we’re doing well, we want to be even better. Adam’s a great representation of that. That’s his lion heart and his warrior mentality. He’s pitched well, but that’s not good enough. He wants to be — and is — elite. That’s his bar. That’s our bar, as well.”
Quality pitching on the road, though, has often been too high a bar for Wainwright to clear this year. He is 1-5 with a 6.20 ERA in eight starts outside Busch Stadium, including 0-4 with a 7.40 ERA in the last five.
One of Wainwright’s more credible road starts this year came against Cincinnati, but it still was not enough to prevent taking a loss as he allowed a pair of solo homers and one other hit in six-plus innings in a 5-2 defeat April 13.
The righty is 9-12 with a 5.11 ERA in 25 lifetime starts versus the Reds and 6-6 with a 4.47 ERA in 16 road outings. Wainwright has not won at Great American Ball Park since 2014 and is 0-2 with a 6.85 ERA in his last five starts there.
Mahle out to avoid becoming second 11-game loser in NL
Tyler Mahle‘s personal losing streak hit five in his first start out of the All-Star break, getting drilled for career worsts of 10 runs and 12 hits in 4 1-3 innings of Cincinnati’s 10-9 loss at Coors Field to Colorado on Sunday.
Mahle (2-10, 4.82 ERA) also set a new single-season career high in losses after dropping to 0-5 with a 5.80 ERA in seven starts during his winless stretch. The Reds have backed him with just 12 runs in those games, and his 3.80 run support average on the season ranked sixth-lowest in the National League entering play Thursday.
The right-hander had a subpar outing in St. Louis in his only prior matchup with the Cardinals this year, yielding five runs in as many innings in a 6-3 defeat April 27. Mahle has lost back-to-back starts to St. Louis and was reached for five runs in 5 1-3 innings last year in a 5-3 defeat that is also his only start at home in the rivalry.
Mahle has been a better pitcher at home than overall, recording a 2-2 record and 3.62 ERA in seven starts, but Cincinnati has provided one or no runs in four of those outings. He is also 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts against NL Central teams in 2019.
The Reds are:
- 2-10 in Mahle’s last 12 starts vs. above-.500 teams.
- 0-5 in Mahle’s last five starts vs. NL Central teams.
- 4-14 in their last 18 home games vs. the Cardinals.
The Cardinals are:
- 41-14 in Wainwright’s last 55 starts during game 2 of a series.
- 47-16 in Wainwright’s last 63 starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
- 24-11 in their last 35 games vs. the Reds.
Cardinals -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+125)
This is more of an anti-Mahle pick than a pro-Wainwright one, but the Cardinals hurler at least has done his part in recent starts — he has helped St. Louis limit opponents to one or no runs in the first five innings in five of his last six starts. Wainwright also pitched the Cardinals to a 1-0 lead in the first five of his previous start in Cincinnati this year.
The Reds have trailed at the midway point in six of Mahle’s last seven starts and have done little to help him offensively with one or no runs in the prior six games before their five-spot in the loss to Colorado.
UNDER 10.5 runs (-121)
This line has since come down to 10 runs at -115, so hopefully, you bought in early while the hook was available. In general, the under has been trending with both pitchers and teams, though Thursday marked the first time in five meetings (1-3-1) the over hit.
The under is 6-1 in Wainwright’s last seven starts and 5-1 in his last six versus division rivals. It is also 6-1 in Cincinnati’s last seven matchups with NL Central teams and 12-5-1 in the last 18 Reds home games. Mahle has also tried his best to be a stopper, with the under 5-2 in his last seven starts coming on the heels of a Reds loss.
Cardinals -1.5 runs (+146)
If it was a pitcher other than Mahle making the start, there would be more consideration in taking the Reds for this game considering Wainwright’s road form, but it just feels like too much of a stretch for Mahle to snap out of his funk in this contest.
Wainwright also is coming off a good outing, and while he has only won back-to-back starts once this season, there is more confidence in him getting the job done than Mahle. Adding to the confidence in covering the run line is St. Louis’ hot start coming out of the All-Star break — four of its five wins have come by two or more runs.
Reds UNDER 4.5 runs (-105)
After knocking around the Rockies in a pair of games, it appears the Reds offense has regressed to its mean with nine runs in losing its last three games. While Wainwright has had fleeting moments of success on the road, opponents have finished with five or more runs against the Cardinals just twice in his last eight starts.
UNDER 5.5 runs (-121)
The five-inning under has been on a roll with the Reds, going 12-2-1 in their last 15 games and delivering in the last four. Mahle has been the outler in the sense the Reds are 1-1-1 with him on the mound in that span. But if one removes the Reds’ series at Coors, it would reveal they have failed to score more than three runs in the first five innings of their last 11 games.
The Cardinals have also had their early offensive issues, scoring three or fewer runs in the first five frames in 19 of their last 23 contests. While those numbers would normally warrant a “4” on the confidence scale, Wainwright’s road form and Mahle’s overall form along with the line’s step down from six runs leave it at “3.”
UNDER 0.5 runs/NO 1st inning run (+115)
A contrarian pick to a degree that is based more on the pitchers’ first-inning track record home and away. Wainwright has been reached for a run in the opening frame just once in his last seven road starts, and Mahle has only given up runs in one of his seven outings in Cincinnati.
The counterweight is there has been a first-inning run in all of Cincinnati’s last six games and in five of St. Louis’ last seven. Wainwright did not give up a run in his outing in Cincinnati, and Mahle kept the Cards scoreless in the first of his start as well.