Tanking in the NBA is nothing new and this past season we saw the Warriors, for one example, sit their entire starting lineup on a few "rest" occasions this past season. The St. Louis Cardinals are certainly not tanking today in a matinee series finale in Cincinnati, but manager Oliver Marmol is taking the unusual strategy of resting his three most accomplished hitters -- 2022 NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado and Willson Contreras -- instead of spreading out their absences over a few days. The Cardinals were -175 at Caesars Sportsbook, but are now down to -125.
You rarely see a price move like that the day of an MLB game when it doesn't involve a starting pitching change. Goldschmidt is hitting .292 with nine homers, 25 RBI, 36 runs scored and seven steals. He had two solo homers in Tuesday's win. Arenado is batting .264 with nine homers, 34 RBI and 26 runs scored while playing his usual Gold Glove defense at third. Contreras, signed this offseason from the Cubs, is batting .228 with five homers, 25 RBIs and 21 runs scored while generally splitting time between catcher and DH.
I can't honestly remember a good team resting three All-Stars like this at once. Winning division games also is very important for possible playoff tiebreakers down the line. Why not rest them on Friday in Cleveland?
Starting in place of the stars are Andrew Knizner at catcher, Alec Burleson at first base and Brendan Donovan at third. With outfielders Tyler O'Neill (back) and Dylan Carlson (ankle) on the injured list, it's about the weakest Cardinals lineup possible.
St. Louis lost two of the first three in this series, but since May 7 is 12-5. During that span the team ranks first in the majors in runs scored (117) and runs per game (6.9), second in slugging (.503), first in OPS (.851), first in RBIs (113), first in total bases (297) and second in in stolen bases (20) and homers (34). The Cardinals is 19-15 when they hit a home run this season but are 3-14 in homerless games.
Miles Mikolas (2-1, 4.77 ERA) starts for St. Louis on the mound. He struggled early on but hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in six straight. Mikolas is 2-0 with a 3.67 ERA (27.0 IP) and 20 strikeouts in five starts on the road, but 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA and three no-decisions in his last six starts in Cincinnati.
The Reds counter with Luke Weaver (1-2, 6.54 ERA). He began his career with the Cardinals and went 15-17 with a 4.79 ERA with them from 2016-2018. This will be his first ever appearance against St. Louis. Perhaps Arenado should at least have been in the lineup for the Cardinals today, as he's 5-for-10 with two homers off Weaver.
MLB pick: Reds +1.5 (-140)
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