The St. Louis Cardinals (44-56) kick off a West Coast swing in the desert with a three-game set against the Arizona Diamondbacks (54-46). First pitch of Monday’s series opener is set for 9:40 p.m. ET from Chase Field in Phoenix. Adam Wainwright (3-4, 7.66 ERA) makes his return from the IL for the Cards, while righty Ryne Nelson (6-5, 4.82) goes for the D-backs.
St. Louis looked like they might finally be putting things together, but after three losses in four games over the weekend to the rival Chicago Cubs, they’ll almost certainly be sellers at the trade deadline. Arizona, meanwhile, is in a tailspin, having lost eight of their last 10 and now in a dogfight to hold on to one of the three NL Wild Card spots.
The D-backs enter as -155 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the Cardinals at +135. The run total is set at 9.5.
Cardinals-Diamondbacks picks: Monday, July 24
Day to day: C Willson Contreras (hip), UTIL Brendan Donovan (flexor tendon)
Out: RP Ryan Helsley (forearm), UTIL Tommy Edman (wrist), SP/RP Jake Woodford (shoulder), INF Jose Fermin (quad)
Out: C Gabriel Moreno (shoulder), SP Kyle Davies (back), SP Merrill Kelly (leg), RP Mark Melancon (shoulder)
Adam Wainwright vs. Ryne Nelson
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Wainwright has been quite possibly the worst starting pitcher in baseball this year. The 41-year-old has had a remarkable career, but it’s fair to wonder how much is left in the tank: He allowed a whopping 20 runs in just eight innings across his last three starts before being put on the injured list earlier this month. He didn’t go out on a rehab assignment, so the Cardinals must be hoping that three weeks of rest have fixed whatever was ailing the franchise legend.
Nelson, on the other hand, is coming off of one of his best starts of the year, as the righty allowed just two runs on three hits in seven innings in a win over the Atlanta Braves last week — the third time in his last five outings that he’s gone seven and allowed two or fewer runs. (Of course, there was a seven-run meltdown against the New York Mets mixed in there, so don’t look too closely.) The righty is very fastball heavy, throwing his four-seamer some 55% of the time, and the recent emergence of his changeup has given him something to keep batters off his heater.
With the way Wainwright was pitching the last time we saw him on a Major League mound, this number is way too low. It’s unclear whether the veteran has anything with which he can get big league hitters out, and it’s possible that Arizona puts up six or seven in just the first few innings here. Combine that with Nelson’s spotty track record against a resurgent Cardinals offense — St. Louis games have totaled nine or more runs in eight of their last 10 — and we should have a slugfest on our hands.
Pick: Over 9.5
For as good as the St. Louis bats have been of late, there’s just no way to trust Wainwright in this spot until we see him pitch far better than he has. Nelson doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence either, but Arizona needs a win and should come out swinging tonight.