MLB Betting Free Pick: St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves
FREE PICK: St. Louis Cardinals (Flaherty) at Atlanta Braves (Foltynewicz)
#957 St. Louis -125 (Tuesday, May 14 @ 7:20 pm EST)
Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz always had two key attributes that help him succeed at the MLB level; a big arm and a devastating breaking pitch. Last season, his average fastball velocity ranked third among qualified starters while his slider ranked fourth in terms of effectiveness. In resulted in a breakout season for Foltynewicz in which he posted a 2.85 ERA over 183 innings. This season, he dealt with arm difficulties during spring training and the velocity and plus slider are nowhere to be seen. The 9.9 K per 9-inning rate he posted in 2018 is now an alarming 5.40. Unfortunately for Foltynewicz, he’s simply not a pitcher who can survive without his full arsenal and it wouldn’t shock me to see him shutdown if his struggles continue.
St. Louis’ Jack Flaherty has similar tools to that of Foltynewicz; a big arm that when healthy can miss a lot of bats. The knock of Flaherty is more bad luck as the Cardinals are 18-23 when he toes the rubber. Both pitching coach Mike Maddux — who knows a thing or two about developing young talent — and teammate Adam Wainwright feel that it’s all a matter of time before he emerges as front-of-the-rotation arm.
“If you look at Jack’s production numbers, as far as controlling counts and what he’s doing within the count, he’s above average in everything. So, it doesn’t quite add up. The success doesn’t quite add up to what his performance is.
“He’s had three or four games where one big inning has gotten him,” said veteran Cardinals righthander Adam Wainwright, one of Flaherty’s biggest fans. “And last game (against Philadelphia), there were a couple plays behind him that guys always make but didn’t make that day. But you have to grade on the whole. If he keeps pitching like that and competing like that, Jack is going to be just fine. He’s going to be right where he needs to be. His numbers will be great.
With Foltynewicz’s issues and Freddie Freeman potentially out due to an illness, Flaherty and the Cardinals become the play as a short road favorite.