St. Louis Cardinals (22-16) vs. Cincinnati Reds (20-17) MLB Betting Lines

Moneyline: Reds (-119) Cardinals (+109)

Over/Under: 8.5

Starting Pitchers: Cardinals (Lohse) vs. Reds (Arroyo)

Last year it was the Cardinals and the Reds battling for the NL Central title and the Reds came out on top. The Cardinals are a game and a half up on the Reds in the standings as of today, and both teams are playing good baseball right now. The Cardinals took two out of three at home in the first three-game series of the year. Can the Reds start out this series with a win?

It’s pretty amazing that the Cardinals are top ranked offense in baseball without Albert Pujols contributing very much. Pujols is having a down year by his standards so far, but Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman are crushing the baseball. Holliday is batting .390 with five home runs. Berkman is batting .357 with ten home runs. The Cardinals are rank first in the majors in team batting average, OPS, and runs scored per game. The bullpen has been a source of concern for this team, but they have pitched better of late. Kyle Lohse has been very good this year, but he has typically not pitched nearly as well on the road.

The Reds went 4-2 on their recent road trip to Chicago and Houston. The Reds offense has really picked it up over the last couple weeks. Jay Bruce was in a long slump to start the year, but he has been on a tear of late. Joey Votto is hitting .349 this year and his on-base percentage is an astronomical .469. Brandon Phillips has had a great first month and a half as well. Phillips is hitting .313, and he continues to show that he is the best defensive second baseman in baseball. Bronson Arroyo is typically a slow start who pitches well at the end of the season, but he has started the year in fine form in 2011. Six of his seven starts this year have been quality starts.

These teams know that this series is very important, and I expect a good effort out of both teams. I think the Reds have the pitching advantage in this one and I think the Reds moneyline is the best play on the board here.

MLB Free Pick: Reds ML