MLB Regular Season
Matchup: St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds
Date/Time: August 5, 7:10 p.m. ET
Pitching Matchup: Carlos Martinez (11-4, 2.61) vs. David Holmberg (1-0, 3.00)
MLB Betting Odds From BetDSI Sportsbook
Moneyline: St. Louis -145
It’s a really rough Wednesday to bet baseball as most of the night games feature favorites of -140 or higher and several of them are road teams. One of them is the St. Louis Cardinals, who are in Cincinnati to take on the Reds. Carlos Martinez has proven to be a very reliable starter this season and it’s his turn in the rotation against David Holmberg, one of many rotation candidates for 2016 for the Reds. The Cardinals are road chalk in this one, though it seems like this line should be a little bit higher.
The Cardinals had a relatively quiet week during the trade deadline, filling small holes with small plugs. An injury to Matt Holliday necessitated a trade for Brandon Moss and the Cardinals bolstered their bullpen with former closers Steve Cishek and Jonathan Broxton. The end of a fairly successful era in Cincinnati culminated in the trade of Johnny Cueto from the Reds to the Royals. These are two teams in very different places right now, as the Cardinals are a perennial World Series contender and the Reds are trying to figure out how to make it all work with a lot of money committed to just a few players.
Carlos Martinez has been one of the Cardinals that has eased the pain of losing Adam Wainwright. The Cardinals lost the former Cy Young Award winner to his second Tommy John surgery before the season. Martinez, who worked mostly in relief last season, was called upon to joint he rotation and has been phenomenal in that role. Martinez is 11-4 with a 2.61/3.45/3.24 on the season. His 84.5 percent strand rate has something to do with why his ERA is so much lower than his FIP and xFIP, but high strikeout pitchers are capable of carrying high strand rates and Martinez also has one of the best defenses in baseball behind him.
For Martinez, it has been a question of durability. The Cardinals have been worried about him as a starter because he’s just six feet tall and under 200 pounds. There aren’t many mid-to-upper 90s hurlers like that out there, which is why Carlos Martinez has gotten comps to Pedro Martinez. The Cardinals have to be pleased with everything they have seen. The stuff has stayed at a high level throughout the duration of his starts, his ground ball rate is elite, and when coupled with a strikeout rate like this, he’s a rotation fixture for years to come. Martinez has allowed a .286/.353/.416 slash the first time through, a .236/.282/.363 the second time through and a .187/.289/.301 the third time through, which is a major outlier among starting pitchers. It’s a testament to how great his stuff is.
David Holmberg is getting another start in the Reds rotation in place of Johnny Cueto. Holmberg is the definition of a Quad-A pitcher in baseball circles. The stuff hasn’t been overpowering since Single-A and there aren’t a whole lot of redeeming qualities. Holmberg has thrown 39.2 Major League innings with a 4.76 ERA and even worse peripherals. He allows a lot of contact and has a standard four-pitch mix that barely tops out at 90.
Scouts like the changeup and appreciate the command that he has shown in the lower levels, but there’s no telling if that will ever translate to the Major Leagues. Holmberg is left-handed, which could present some trouble for the Cardinals, since most southpaws do. The Cardinals have a .299 wOBA against lefties this season, which ranks 23rd. They improved to ninth in 2014 after finishing 26th in 2013. Perhaps that will be the ace in the hole for Holmberg…
MLB Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals
But probably not. This line is priced way too low for whatever reason. Carlos Martinez has been borderline elite this season, especially with the way that he has gotten stronger as games have gone longer. He’s the exception to the norm for the Cardinals and arguably their best pitcher this season. The Reds still have some quality offensive pieces, but consistency is a major issue for them right now and you never know what to expect.