The St. Louis Cardinals (23-29) and Cleveland Guardians (21-28) open up a 3-game set at Progressive Field Friday. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET. Let’s analyze BetMGM Sportsbook’s lines around the Cardinals vs. Guardians odds and make our expert MLB picks and predictions for the best bets.
Season series: First meeting since splitting a 4-game series in 2021
The Cardinals have started to turn things around after one of the worst starts in franchise history. St. Louis has won of 13 of its last 20 games to climb to within 5 games of 1st place in the NL Central. Their starting pitching ERA, which was once 2nd-to-last in baseball, has improved to 23rd at 5.01.
The Guardians are in a similarly weak division (AL Central) but have missed the necessary pieces to fire on all cylinders. They are 3-7 and 7-13 the last 10 and 20 games, respectively. They still sit 4.5 games out of 1st place, and if they fall out, these Cardinals are going to come calling about today’s starting pitcher.
Cardinals at Guardians projected starters
RHP Matthew Libertore vs. RHP Shane Bieber
Libertore (1-0, 3.00 ERA) makes his 2nd start and 3rd appearance. He has a 1.33 WHIP, 6.0 BB/9 and 10.5 K/9 in 6 innings.
- Last start: Win, 5 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 6 K, against the Milwaukee Brewers May 17
- Pitched his way into forcing the team’s hand to have a 6-man rotation after going 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 56 K in 46 IP at Triple-A Memphis.
Bieber (3-3, 3.08 ERA) makes his 11th start. He has a 1.21 WHIP, 2.1 BB/9 and 6.6 K/9 in 64 1/3 innings.
- Last start: Loss, CG (8 IP), 2 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 4 K, against the New York Mets Sunday
- 2 career starts vs. St. Louis: 2-0, 1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10 K in 12 IP
Cardinals at Guardians odds
Provided by BetMGM Sportsbook; access USA TODAY Sports Scores and Sports Betting Odds hub for a full list. Lines last updated at 10:10 a.m. ET.
- Moneyline (ML): Cardinals -105 (bet $105 to win $100) | Guardians -115 (bet $115 to win $100)
- Run line (RL)/Against the spread (ATS): Cardinals -1.5 (+165) | Guardians +1.5 (-200)
- Over/Under (O/U): 7.5 (O: -120 | U: +100)
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Cardinals at Guardians picks and predictions
Cardinals 3, Guardians 2
This is a matchup between two similar teams. They’re in the weakest divisions in each league, and the Indians can’t score runs (30th with 3.47 runs/9), and the Cardinals can’t miss bats (22nd in runs/9 allowed at 4.88).
Bieber hasn’t been as good this year, and part of it is because hitters are tattooing his cutter. They’re hitting .340 off of it, as opposed to .245 last year, and he throws it 24.2% of the time. That’s a big reason why his K-rate has gone down from 8.9 to 6.6 as his velocity is the same.
Libertore is a completely different pitcher this year, using his fastball more confidently. It’s averaging 95.3 mph, which is up from 93.7 mph last year, albeit in a smaller sample size. I like the CARDINALS (-105) to sneak this one out. They’re 4-0 in their last 4 interleague games and interleague road games.
Run line/Against the spread
I’m going to pass on each RL in this pick ’em game, but there is a prop bet I’m intrigued with. Cleveland is the 2nd-hardest team to strike out in baseball at 7.16 per game. However, Liberatore’s K-rate has shot up to 10.9 combined between Triple-A and his 6 big-league innings. His K/9 was 8.7 at both levels last year. So I’ll take a chance at MATTHEW LIBERATORE OVER 3.5 K’S (-145).
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It’s 66 degrees with a 10-mph breeze coming in from right-center field in Cleveland. The Under is 4-0 in Bieber’s last 4 home starts. The Under is 6-2-1 in the last 9 meetings in Cleveland. With the wind blowing in and the caliber of pitching we should see, I like the UNDER 7.5 (+100).
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