Rogers' 10* EARLY BIRD SPECIAL >> +$18,010 Last MLB Reg Season!

Rogers' 10* EARLY BIRD SPECIAL >> +$18,010 Last MLB Reg Season!

St. Louis vs. NY Mets, 04/01/2018 13:10 EDT, Score: 5 - 1

Money Line: -117 St. Louis

Sportsbook: TopBet

Result: Win

The set-up: The St. Louis Cardinals remained in the wild-card chase until game No. 159 last season, while the NY Mets began "looking ahead" to 2018 by the All Star break. However, both teams opened the current season with optimism. The Cards have made winning seem like a birthright since the last round of expansion, making the playoffs in 12 of the last 20 years and have missed the postseason in back-to-back years just twice, 2007-08 and 2016-17. The Mets won 90 games in 2015 and then made it to the World Series, before making the playoffs as a wild card team in 2016 with 87 wins. Therefore, last year's 70-win season was to say the least, a huge disappointment. St. Louis responded to a second straight playoff absence by shaking up the coaching staff. Mike Maddux was hired as pitching coach while franchise icons Jose Oquendo and Willie McGee, who were already working for the organization, were named the third base coach and assistant coach, respectively. Marcell Ozuna (.312, 7 HRs & 124 RBI) was part of Miami's off-season fire sale and the Cards landed the promising 27-year-old. He joins an outfield that rivals the best in the majors, with Tommy Pham (.306, 23 HRs, 73 RBI, 95 runs scored & 25 stolen bases) and Dexter Fowler (.264, 18 HRs, &64 RBI) looking to help the Cardinals improve upon their 83-79 campaign in 2017. The Mets have a new manager in Mickey Callaway calling the shots and the team believes that it made wise off-season investments. The team's 70-92 mark in 2017 loosened the purse strings as outfielder Jay Bruce (three years, $39 million), third baseman Todd Frazier (two years, $17 million), left-hander Jason Vargas (two years, $16 million) and right-hander Anthony Swarzak (two years, $14 million) signed contracts. However, a return to health of what could be an excellent starting staff, will be a must. The 2018 season could not have gotten off to a better two-game start for the New York Mets, which conversely means that everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, it's only two games into the 2018 season but the Mets appear to have their power pitching back. Two days after Noah Syndergaard fanned 10 hitters in Thursday's season opener, Jacob deGrom and three relievers combined for 12 Ks in a 6-2 victory Saturday, giving New York pitchers 27 strikeouts through the season’s first 18 innings. New York has not lacked for offensive production in the series either, scoring 15 runs in two games. As for the Cards, they are hitting .194 as a team, have gone 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and their bullpen has surrendered six runs in seven innings in their 0-2 start .

The pitching matchup: St. Louis will send Luke Weaver (2017: 7-2, 3.88 ERA) to the mound this afternoon, while the New York counter with lefty Steven Matz (2017: 2-7, 6.08). The 24-year-old Weaver allowed more than two ERs just once in his first 11 appearances last season (including eight starts), going 7-1 with a 2.05 ERA. However, he then surrendering 14 ERs in his final two outings. Weaver was outstanding in spring training, holding opponents to a .113 batting average with a 0.67 WHIP, 19 strikeouts and one run allowed in 16 1/3 innings, so he sure looks ready to to solidify his spot in the St. Louis rotation. Matz suffered through elbow issues and eventual surgery that limited him to only 13 starts a season ago. The Mets went 3-10 in his starts and along with that bloated 6.08 ERA, he had a 1.53 WHIP while opponents batted .305 against him. Matz only allowed four ERs over his final 18 1/3 innings in the spring (plus reported no health issues) but overall, he owned a 6.30 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP.

The pick: Mickey Callaway is a rookie manager and is the first New York skipper since Joe Torre in 1977 to win his first two games at the helm. The fast start has been fueled by a balanced attack, as 10 players have scored at least one run, while eight have at least one RBI for the Mets. Will the Mets open 3-0 for the first time since winning their first four games in 2012? The Cardinals are looking to avoid starting 0-3 for the first time since 2016 (no so long ago) but I like them here, taking Weaver over Matz. Weaver was impressive in 2017 (save those last two starts) plus looked outstanding in the spring (see above). Meanwhile, Matz lost his lone career start against the Cardinals back on July 9 (he allowed five runs over 4 1/3 innings as the Mets fell 6-0 at Busch Stadium), a defeat began a season-ending eight-start stretch for Matz in which he went 0-6 (team was1-7) with a 10.19 ERA. No sweep here. Make St. Louis a 10* play.

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