Jake Ernst previews the game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Globe Park and picks out the best bet on Friday night.
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There are 15 games scheduled to be played in the MLB on Friday, the earliest beginning at 7pm Eastern Time when the New York Yankees (26-16) could take a half-game lead in the AL East with a win over the first place Tampa Bay Rays (26-15) and the latest beginning at 10:10PM when the first-place Minnesota Twins (27-15) take on the Seattle Mariners (22-23). The game I have my eyes on however, is the primetime matchup between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX.
The Cardinals have been one of the MLB’s most streaky teams this season but they are currently 23-20, a record that has them sitting in third place of the very strong NL Central that features the Chicago Cubs (25-15) and the Milwaukee Brewers (26-19). The Cardinals have the seventh-best run differential (+27) and the eighth-most runs scored in the MLB (220) but in their last 10 games, they have been held to one run or less on five separate occasions, just another reason why I think they are one of the most inconsistent teams in baseball.
The Rangers on the other hand, currently sit at 19-22 and are just one game ahead of the Oakland Athletics (19-25) for last place in the AL West. They have a +11 run differential on the season, which ranks them around the middle of the MLB (13th) but defensively, the Rangers have allowed 229 runs on the season. Only the Baltimore Orioles (242) are worse in that department. It’s fairly safe to say they have one of the league’s worst starting rotations with Mike Minor being their only bright side up to this point.
The Cardinals named Mike Mikolas (4-3) as their starter for tomorrow and he will carry a modest 3.83 ERA into the ballgame. The Cardinals number one pitcher on the depth chart has had a solid season and is coming off three-straight games in which he allowed two-runs-or-less and went six-plus innings into the game, an impressive feat considering he faced some of the MLB’s most potent offenses during that time including the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies and the Pittsburg Pirates. The Cardinals ace has only allowed four-or-more runs in two of his nine starts this season and has proved to be the club’s best pitcher up to this point.
For the Rangers, it will likely be Drew Smyly on the bump and he will enter Friday’s game with a 6.85 ERA, something that the Cardinals should be salivating over. The 29-year-old has allowed four or more runs in four of his last five starts and has failed to record a win on the season (0-3). Smyly has been dealing with a mild ankle injury over the past few days so it’s possible the Rangers could elect to push his start back a day or two depending on the status of that ankle but with it being a three-game series, the Cardinals will likely get a shot at Smyly either Saturday or Sunday if he is unable to go tomorrow.
As inconsistent as the Cardinals have been up to this point, I like them to win this one, regardless of who is on the mound for the Rangers, whether it’s Smyly, Adrian Sampson or somebody else. The numbers and ratios are there for Mikolas and there are only six teams in the league who have scored more runs this season than the Cardinals. If it were Mike Minor or even Lance Lynn starting for the Rangers I would potentially second-guess my prediction but I simply just don’t trust Smyly against the Cardinals high-powered offense.