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John Lackey Makes Debut at Busch Stadium; Garza Struggling

MIlwaukee Brewers vs St. Louis Cardinals

John Lackey makes his debut for the Cardinals this afternoon following the recent trade that sent starter Joe Kelly and outfielder Allen Craig to Boston. Lackey’s value cannot be understated for St. Louis as he now avoids the DH and moves into one of baseball’s best pitcher’s parks. In fact, Busch Stadium depresses left-handed batter home runs by 10%, lowers right-handed batter home runs by 23% and deflates runs by 8%. Lackey has also enjoyed tremendous success versus National League teams against whom he owns a career 3.07 ERA and 1.18 WHIO in 246 innings pitched (219 strikeouts). Since the start of 2013, Lackey has garnered a 3.55 ERA (3.74 FIP) over 326.2 innings of work (and almost six WAR).

This season, the 35-year-old right-hander owns a 3.60 ERA and 1.23 WHIP, including a 3.25 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in day games and a 2.25 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over his last three starts. Lackey’s underlying metrics also support a strong second half:

John Lackey’s Metrics

  • 3.35 xFIP & 3.52 SIERA in 2014
  • 3.24 xFIP & 3.53 FIP in the first half

Lackey now faces a scuffling Milwaukee lineup that is batting just .248 with a .300 on base percentage in day games (4.0 runs per game), .244 with a .296 on base percentage versus division opponents and .225 with a .282 on base percentage over the last ten days (3.7 runs per game). Lackey’s counterpart, Milwaukee right-hander Matt Garza, has really struggled on the road this season where he is 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Garza also owns a 4.06 ERA and 1.23 WHIP versus division opponents and a 4.11 ERA and 1.10 WHIP over his last three outings. The 30-year-old’s underlying metrics further suggest continued struggles in the second half:

Matt Garza’s Metrics

  • 4.07 xFIP & 4.22 SIERA in 2014
  • 4.67 xFIP & 3.86 FIP on the road
  • 4.33 xFIP & 3.61 FIP in July
  • 4.68 xFIP & 4.90 FIP in the second half

Let’s also note that Garza is 3-3 with a career 4.81 ERA and 1.58 WHIP versus the Cardinals, including allowing a combined nine earned runs on fourteen hits in his two starts against St. Louis this season (10 IP). From a technical standpoint, St. Louis is 26-12 (+12.4 units) at home versus teams with a winning record (9-3 L/12), 44-19 (+17.8 units) versus teams who strike out seven or more times per game and 45-21 (+16.4 units) at home in the second half of the season, whereas the Brewers are 66-89 (-33.4 units) in day games over the last two seasons. The Cardinals are also 70-31 in their last 101 home games versus right-handed starters and 35-16 in game 3 of a series, whereas Milwaukee is 5-12 in its last 17 games following a loss and 19-39 in the last 58 meetings in this series.

Finally, today’s home plate umpire, Will Little, is a 63% winning proposition for home teams in his career. Take the Cardinals and invest with confidence.

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