New York Mets at St. Louis Cardinals
Moneyline: NYM +140/STL -150
Series: NYM -115/STL -115
First pitch: 8:15 p.m. ET
TV: SNY, MLB Network
Probable pitchers: Jason Vargas (1-0, 14.21 ERA) vs. Adam Wainwright (1-1, 3.94 ERA)
Some pitchers just evoke a certain type of emotion when you spot their name in a pitching matchup. In the case of Vargas -- as Mets fans unfortunately know all too well -- it could be anger. For a bettor, it might be a signal to instantly "fade," or bet against.
There's no question Vargas has been a disappointment since arriving in Flushing last year. After his latest dud, one that saw him record a mere one out last Saturday, the 36-year-old has now crafted a brutal 6.32 ERA in his 22 starts (and one relief appearance) with the Mets. Suffice to say, his days in the rotation could be numbered.
In the meantime, you can still profit off the veteran southpaw in terms of going against him, as he certainly hasn't provided much hope for improvement. Vargas is throwing slower than ever (85.6 mph average velocity) and he's yielding the highest frequency of hard-hit balls (63.6 percent) in his career, according to Fangraphs.
This also isn't a great matchup for him either. In particular, Matt Carpenter has tagged Vargas for a hit in all five of his at-bats against the left-hander, while Yadier Molina is 5-for-11 with a homer and five RBI.
Another veteran will be taking the hill in this series opener, with Wainwright going for the Cardinals. Given his counterpart, you just want to figure out if Waino can hold his end of the bargain.
One glaring item about the 15-year vet is that he's typically been considerably better at home compared to on the road. In fact, his career 2.87 ERA at Busch Stadium is nearly a full run better than in his away assignments (3.82 ERA). Wainwright also has notably served up far fewer homers in St. Louis despite compiling more innings at home.
On the contrary, this isn't the same Wainwright of years' past. Like Vargas, his average velocity so far this season has never been lower, and additionally, he's also allowing a high frequency of hard-hit contact (33.3 percent) as well.
In other words, Wainwright is due for a regression and that could come against a Mets lineup that's still been firing on all cylinders. They enter Friday night's action fifth in baseball with 5.7 runs scored per game.
How I Would Bet This Game
Due to those fearsome Mets bats, I'm not sure you can fully trust Wainwright for a straight-up bet opposite Vargas. Instead, I advise going the way of the total and betting on the Over 9. This affair looks ripe for at least one crooked number on the scoreboard.
Should You Bet The Series?
Both teams share -115 odds to emerge victorious in this three-game set. That's a very accurate price, as it's easy to see either of these legit playoff contenders come away with two of the three. Thus, it's probably best to just avoid having action on the series.