Southpaw starters take center stage for Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN when the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres meet at Petco Park to round out this weekend series. It will be Kwang Hyun Kim for the Redbirds and Ryan Weathers for the Friars as San Diego is slotted in the -125 range with a total of 7 at the top US sportsbook BetUS.

Let’s take a look at the only night game on the board for Sunday and see if we can find a good bet.

St. Louis Cardinals

The Cardinals did not get a very good start from Adam Wainwright on Saturday. With Kwang Hyun Kim not able to work very deep into games, the Cardinals will have to hope that he is efficient with his pitches against a very tough San Diego lineup. The Padres have one of the highest walk rates in baseball, but Kim has only walked 17 batters in his 62 MLB innings.

Kim has only thrown 23 innings over his five starts, but has a 2.74 ERA with a 2.37 FIP. He’s seen a nice strikeout rate increase and it seems pretty legit based on his swinging strike rate and just the overall improved quality of his stuff. Remember that Kim, an import from the KBO, got to spend his first season in a new country dealing with the pandemic and probably an even higher degree of isolation with things closed and the weird schedule for the baseball season.

The Cardinals offense is a below average unit once again, but this is a group doing a better job of making more hard contact than in past seasons. St. Louis entered Saturday’s game with a 95 wRC+ and didn’t make many strides in terms of improving that number, but they have made better contact this season and should see some positive regression as we go forward.

It wasn’t on display in Saturday’s game, though a lot of balls were hit over fielder’s heads, but the Cardinals do grade as one of the better defensive teams in baseball. That should always be a factor in your handicapping, especially with a guy like Kim, who has seen a nice K% bump, but that could regress at any time.

San Diego Padres

Saturday’s offensive explosion should not have come as a big surprise. When you look at the Padres, there are a lot of things that you notice, including their contact quality as a team and how they’ve underachieved badly in light of it. San Diego is a team that makes a lot of hard contact, but has ranked in the bottom five in batting average on high-velocity batted balls.

When that does come around and gets up to where it should be, the Padres are going to be quite a juggernaut. They already have one of the best bullpens in baseball, which is almost a nightly advantage for them. It has simply been about the offense, how much production the Padres can find, and then how the starting pitching does in terms of working deep into the game or at least minimizing the damage.

Ryan Weathers has done a phenomenal job of limiting damage. He’s allowed just two runs on nine hits in 22.1 innings of work. He’s provided an enormous lift for a Padres team that expected to have Adrian Morejon and others on the front lines. Instead, Morejon had to have Tommy John surgery. Mike Clevinger was lost to the same procedure. Dinelson Lamet has spent time on the IL.

The Padres have needed Weathers badly and he has delivered. That being said, Weathers is something of a negative regression candidate with his .157 BABIP against and his 96.2% LOB%. Nothing against him, but nobody runs numbers like that in those two stats. More balls will find holes. The timing of those hits will have a lot to do with how soon Weathers allows more runs and sees those numbers change.

Cardinals vs. Padres Free Pick

Give me the Padres here in this one. San Diego stock is rising and it is a good time to buy. The Cardinals look to be a bit of an overachiever to this point in the season. San Diego could very well have the better starter, but definitely has the better lineup and the better bullpen. That is more than enough for me to lay this price in the -125 to -130 range.