MLB Handicapping: When to Bet on the St. Louis Cardinals
In analyzing the St. Louis Cardinals prior to the season, I made the note, “look to bet on vs. left-handed starters.” The reason was fairly simple as the Cardinals lineup is loaded with right-handed bats. Not only that but there are a handful of bats that are significantly better vs. southpaws. Below are the career righty/lefty slugging pct. splits of St. Louis’ right-handed hitters (note that Dexter Fowler is a switch hitter). All eight batters show stronger splits vs. lefties — some, like Gyorko, Bader, and Martinez, boast dramatically better numbers.
Batter: Career SLG vs. R/SLG vs. L
The problem has been thus far, St. Louis simply hasn’t had many opportunities vs. lefties. Of their 52 games, only eight — the fewest in MLB — have come against left-handed starters. The Cardinals have had only 301 at-bats vs. left-handed pitching while league leader, Arizona, has had 646. And the frequency in which they face lefties isn’t going to dramatically increase considering the National League Central is loaded with right-handed starters. Cincinnati and Pittsburgh’s entire rotations are right-handed. Milwaukee’s was until they recently added Gio Gonzalez. The lone exception is the Chicago Cubs (Jose Quintana, Cole Hamels, and Jon Lester) who the Cardinals play six times over the next two weeks!
St. Louis’ offense has performed adequately this season (6th in the NL at 5.0 runs per game). But the potential is there for some big offensive outputs when they face left-handed pitching. The numbers don’t show it yet but go back to last year and we see the Cardinals with the second highest wRC+ in the National League vs. lefties and that was without Goldschmidt who has a career .584 slugging pct. It won’t be a regular occurrence but bettors should have “bet on” and/or “over” pegged for any matchup vs. a lefty moving forward.