BettorIQ’s MLB Preview: St. Louis Cardinals
BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. We will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective leading up to the start of the season.
St. Louis Cardinals
2019 Record: 91-71
2019 Profits: +8.6
2020 Win Total: 31.5
2020 Odds to Win NL Central: +250
2020 Odds to Win NL Pennant: +1300
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +2800
Betting Positives: It sounds cliche but the “Cardinal way” does produce results. The organization hasn’t had a losing season since 2007 when just when the window appeared to be closing, they sacked manager Mike Matheny, and the following year won an ultra-competitive NL Central. Nothing screams “elite” about this year’s group but they should once again find themselves in the mix. The star of the team is Jack Flaherty who has emerged as one of the best arms in MLB. The Cardinals don’t command a ton of respect in the markets making Flaherty a near automatic bet even if bettors are forced to get creative with team totals and/or run-lines. There are other pieces to like as well including pitcher Alex Reyes who has been nothing short of an enigma throughout his brief career. Plagued by injuries, suspensions, and most recently COVID-19, Reyes has the potential to be a game changer even if he’s limited to the bullpen. Paul DeJong and Harrison Barnes are also quality young talent with the potential to break out.
Betting Negatives: There are a lot of aging veterans who are being relied on to produce. Matt Carpenter is now 34 years old and off of his worst season as a pro. Yadier Molina’s ability to “handle a staff” remains but he’s no longer a defensive wiz or a viable bat. It was nice to see Dexter Fowler bounce back some after a dreadful 2018 but he’s a league average player at best. Adam Wainwright defied all sorts of logic and will be hard pressed to duplicate last year’s 4.19 ERA. The sheen of Miles Mikolas’ improbable return to the majors is starting to wear off now that the league has gotten multiple looks. And Paul Goldschmidt, who at 32 years old is far from over the hill, did endure a significant decline last season. That’s not just a player or two riding out a long term contract who you hope to squeeze one last ounce of production. That’s a good chuck of the team’s projected everyday lineup and two starting pitchers that simply don’t have age on their side. And there aren’t a lot of reinforcements on the way. According to FanGraph, the Cardinals have only three players among the top 100 MLB prospects and only one, Dylan Carlson, looks ready to contribute.
Handicapper’s Take: How much faith are you willing to put into the aforementioned “Cardinal way?” The reason I ask is outside of Flaherty, I see some red flags and a lot of things needing to break this team’s way for them to match what really aren’t that high of expectations (32 O/U wins). And while I don’t see the potential for implosion (see: Boston Red Sox), of the four teams expected to battle for the NL Central crown, the Cardinals do the least for me in terms of bet on potential.