Tough Break for Cueto, Reds

MLB.com reports Mike Leake (8-9, 1.35 WHIP) will replace Johnny Cueto (19-9, 1.17 WHIP) on the Reds’ NLDS roster. After this move, Cueto isn’t eligible to pitch until the World Series.

Leake was added to the roster in place of the injured Johnny Cueto on Wednesday morning, after approval by Major League Baseball. It will be Leake who starts Game 4 of the NL Division Series against the Giants at 4:07 p.m. ET on TBS. The move means Cueto, felled by a right oblique strain, will not be eligible to pitch again until the World Series — if the Reds can get that far.

“It was a very, very tough decision,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “But our medical staff felt, at best, that Johnny might be able to pitch one game in the next series if we get there. So we thought the importance of today’s game and the rest of the series, versus the one game next time, outweighed that. It’s a tough thing to have a potential Cy Young guy out of your rotation.”

Replacing a 19-game winner with a sub .500 pitcher is a major setback. Assuming they get by the San Francisco Giants, the Reds will certainly miss Cueto against the St. Louis Cardinals or Washington Nationals. Over the last 3 years, Cueto was 7-3 combined against the Cardinals and Nationals. Mike Leake was 5-4 over the same period facing the Cardinals and Nationals. Additionally, both teams have a higher batting average against Leake with the Cardinals hitting .314. May want to hedge your Reds’ future bets….of course the current Reds’ future price probably just got better.

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Bet of the Day – St. Louis Cardinals at Atlanta Braves, Sept 10, 2010 7:35 ET

St. Louis Cardinals (-125) at Atlanta Braves (+115), Over/Under 7.5 runs

As predicted, yesterday’s bet was a very tough line and ended up as a push.  Today, we will look at two desperate playoff teams.  With three weeks to go, both the St. Louis Cardinals (73-65) and Atlanta Braves (80-61) are trailing in their divisions.  The Cardinals roughed up the Braves last night, and tonight send staff ace Chris Carpenter (15-5, 1.158 WHIP) to the mound to face rookie Mark Minor (3-0, 1.481 WHIP).  Every game is critical for both teams.

The Cardinals hit a rough patch in mid-August, but are turning it around.  They have taken 4 of their last 7.  Last night was the first time they had more than 10 hits in the last 13 games.  The Cardinals are 5-0 against the Braves in 2010 outscoring them 36-18.  Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter is rounding back into form.  Carpenter went 7.3 innings allowing 6 hits and 2 runs last time out.  Carpenter doesn’t give up many walks and the Braves’ bats aren’t hot now.  Expect a solid outing from Carpenter.

The Braves have been a strong home team (49-20) this year.  But the Braves have only averaged 3.3 runs per game over their last 7 while allowing 5 runs per game against mediocre competition.  They are slumping but haven’t lost 2 consecutive home games since mid-July.  After his last appearance, starting pitcher Mark Minor doesn’t seem to help the Braves cause.  Minor gave up 6 earned runs on 9 hits last time out.  He hasn’t pitched more than 6 innings in any of his 5 starts.  Can the rookie rebound against the Cardinals ace?

Simulating the game with my baseball model predicted the Cardinals 4.39 over the Braves 3.94 for 8.33 total runs.  The teams have some similarities on paper.  The Braves draw more walks while the Cardinals are a better hitting team.  They are almost identical in scoring efficiency.  The clear difference is starting pitchers.  If Carpenter and Minor both pitch to their average, the Cardinals should win.

Is today’s bet that simple?  Yes and no.  The Braves are tough at home and the Cards haven’t seen Minor before.  But the Cards are playing better now, Carpenter is pitching back into form, the Cardinals have owned the Braves this year, and the Cards have a simulated advantage.  The line is close at -125 and the Cards have enough of an advantage to offer betting value.  Bet on the St. Louis Cardinals on the Money Line -125. Follow me on Twitter for all my picks.  Good Luck!

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