Cincinnati Reds (43-43) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (46-40) MLB Betting Lines

Moneyline: Cardinals (-147) Reds (+137)

Over/Under: 8

Starting Pitchers: Reds (Volquez) vs. Cardinals (Garcia)

Monday’s opening game of this three-game set between the Reds and Cardinals was as good of a game as you’ll see. Cueto and Carpenter both pitched a gem, but it was the Cardinals who came out with a 1-0 win on an infield single in the eighth inning. These two divisional rivals hate each other, and there is certainly some extra motivation for both teams in this series.

Edinson Volquez starts for the Reds in this one. Volquez is a guy the Reds badly need to get it going if they are going to make run at winning the NL Central division once again this year. Volquez has been erratic all year, and he has already racked up 53 walks in 79 and 2/3 innings pitched this year. Last night’s loss dropped the Reds to .500 on the season, but fortunately for them they are just three games back of the division leading Cardinals. Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce were all named to the All-Star team on Sunday. This is a team with a good young nucleus, but the pitching has let them down so far this year.

When Adam Wainwright was lost for the season, most people assumed the Cardinals were done. St. Louis has been winning with some terrific offensive production and improved pitching. The big news for the Cardinals is that Albert Pujols recovery is going very well, and he may even play in this Tuesday night game against the Reds. He is well ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation, which is great news for this team. Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman have done the most damage offensively, but lesser known guys like Jon Jay and David Freese have been terrific as well. The Cardinals rank second in the majors in team batting average at .269. Jaime Garcia has been unhittable at home this year. Garcia has a stellar ERA of 0.88 in 51 and 1/3 innings at home in 2011.

Volquez has struggled all season and it is tough to see him shutting down a lineup like the Cardinals. Garcia hasn’t been rattled in these situations in the past. I like the Cardinals to win this one.

MLB Free Pick: Cardinals ML