St. Louis right-hander Michael Wacha is off to a solid start this season as evidenced by his 3.23 ERA and 1.14 WHIP across five starts. Wacha backs up those surface numbers with an 8.22 K/9 rate, 2.05 BB/9 rate and a 3.68 SIERA.
I also like the fact that the 25-year-old is excelling at contact management in 2017, posting a 22.1% hard contact rate (compared to a 30.0% Hard% last year). Wacha should improve upon all of his statistics against an Atlanta lineup that is averaging just 4.3 runs per game in day contests this season (.297 OBP; .664 OPS).
Before getting overly excited about R.A. Dickey’s start to the 2017 campaign (3.94 ERA), it should be noted that the aging knuckleballer has benefited from an unsustainable .247 BABIP (Dickey owns a career .280 BABIP so regression is likely).
Dickey currently owns a career-high 1.82 HR/9 rate, and his shiny ERA is undermined by a 5.90 FIP, 4.72 xFIP and a 4.91 SIERA. The 42-year-old now faces a surging St. Louis lineup that is averaging 5.7 runs over its last seven games (.404 OBP; .906 OPS).
Let’s also note that Atlanta’s bullpen enters Sunday’s contest with a 5.59 ERA and 1.47 WHIP, including a 6.81 ERA and 1.85 WHIP at home, an 8.83 ERA and 1.96 WHIP in afternoon games and a 7.20 ERA and 1.68 WHIP over the last seven games.
Technically speaking, St. Louis is 7-3 in Wacha’s last ten starts, 5-2 in Wacha’s last seven road outings, 4-1 in his last five starts during game 3 of a series and 9-3 in his last twelve outings with full rest.
Meanwhile, the Braves are a money-burning 25-53 in game 3 of a series, 15-37 after losing game 2 of a series, 2-8 in their last ten divisional affairs and 1-7 in their last eight home games. With St. Louis winning each of the last five meetings in Atlanta, take the Cardinals and invest with confidence.
With St. Louis winning each of the last five meetings in Atlanta, take the Cardinals as Oskeim Sports’ Free MLB Pick for Sunday, May 7.