St. Louis Cardinals vs Tampa Bay Rays (6/7/22) Starting Lineup, Betting Odds, Prediction

This will be a fun series.

The Cardinals are red-hot right now, having won seven of the last 10 games. Given the Brewers have dropped a few recently, the 2022 Cardinals are now a half-game back for the NL Central lead.

The Rays recently dropped two of three to the White Sox, but Tampa will continue to chug along. They finished April 12-9, May 16-12, and are currently 3-2 in June. Tampa plays the long game by playing consistently above .500.

These two teams are a combined 17 games above .500. So, which one has the edge?

Let’s dive into the starting lineups, betting odds, and my prediction for Game 1 of this series.

St. Louis Cardinals vs Tampa Bay Rays Odds

The Rays will always be favored at home. But I continue to wonder if the Cardinals are undervalued in 2022.

This team is playing .582 ball when the win total was set at just 85 entering the season. If you had bet every Cardinals ML this season, you’d be up over 4.7 units.

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But it might be tough backing Dakota Hudson, who is pitching well but due for negative regression. Jeffrey Springs is in a similar boat, but he’s been the better pitcher so far.

Let’s investigate the matchups a little more.

St. Louis Cardinals Starting Lineup

2B Tommy Edman S
1B P. Goldschmidt R
3B N. Arenado R
DH A. Pujols R
LF J. Yepez R
CF H. Bader R
C Y. Molina R
SS E. Sosa R
RF B. Donovan L

St. Louis Cardinals vs Jeffrey Springs

Jeffrey Springs is just another Tampa pitcher that gets fixed in the Rays’ laboratory. This is his third team during his short MLB career, and he’s pitching better than ever.

The Rays’ pitching staff teaches guys to throw strikes. And this year, Springs’ walk rate is down from his career-average 3.52 BB/9 to 1.88 BB/9 this season. Interestingly, his strikeout rate is down, but his 1.88 ERA shows things have been effective.

Springs is due for negative regression, but his xERA is still under 3.00. But his Baseball Savant page shows there aren’t many holes in Springs’ game.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

Springs throws a simple three-pitch mix, relying on a four-seam fastball 42.6% of the time and mixing in a changeup and slider. His changeup is by far his most effective pitch, producing a 41% whiff rate and a -9 Run Value on the season.

But he’s also a lefty, and that’s a problem. The Cardinals mash lefties, having produced the second-highest OPS (.784) and wRC+ (125) against southpaws this season. There are five talented right-handers in the Redbird lineup, and Tommy Edman is a switch hitter.

The Cardinals took Carlos Rodon for eight runs and 10 hits over just 3 ⅔ innings. They could make quick work of Springs.

St. Louis is also the third-best fastball hitting lineup in MLB (29 Weighted Fastball Runs created) and the ninth-best changeup hitting team (4.3 Weighted Changeup runs created).

It could be a long outing for Springs.

Tampa Bay Rays Starting Lineup

CF K. Kiermaier L
RF M. Margot R
3B Y. Diaz R
1B J. Choi L
DH H. Ramirez R
LF R. Arozarena R
2B I. Paredes R
C M. Zunino R
SS T. Walls S

Tampa Bay Rays vs Dakota Hudson

It’s nice to see Hudson make a comeback after two injury-marred seasons. He’s kept his ERA under 3.00 through 10 starts, pitching 56 ⅔ innings in the process. And the Cards are 6-4 in his starts this season.

But this is not sustainable. He walks (4.18 BB/9) as many hitters as he strikes out (4.88 K/9), and his 1.32 WHIP doesn’t align with his ERA.

Plus, his xERA is way up at 4.97. His batted ball statistics are as poor as I’ve seen for any pitcher, evidenced by his Baseball Savant page.

Image credit: Baseball Savant

The Rays lineup has been rather average this season, if not below average. They’re slightly better against the right side on the season, but over the last month and against RHPs, they’ve posted the second-lowest wRC+ of any team (82).

However, the Rays have yet to get real contributions from Wander Franco or Brandon Lowe, who are both on the 10-day IL right now. Plus, Mike Zunino, Kevin Kiermaier, and Brett Phillips have been less than replacement level players during the first two months of the season.

Thank goodness for Ji-Man Choi, who has posted a 144 OPS+ so far and has come up huge in big moments this season.

But in the end, it’s all about the pitching in West Florida. The Rays have more pitching depth than any team in the league, and that will lead them to the promised land.

St. Louis Cardinals vs Tampa Bay Rays Pick & Prediction

My picks: St. Louis Cardinals ML (+130 at FanDuel Sportsbook), Over 7.5 (-115 at Caesars Sportsbook)

If you’re giving me the Cardinals against a lefty, I’m going to bet them every time.

Especially with plus-money odds and against a Rays’ lineup that has been slumping. I’m not the biggest Dakota Hudson fan, but the Tampa lineup can’t get anything going and are very shorthanded.

However, it’s worth taking the over if Hudson decides to blow up. I’m expecting the Cardinals to score, and you never know what can happen with this Tampa lineup. And considering the number is only 7.5, I’ll take a shot with the over as well.