Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Tuesday's Best Bet

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Tuesday MLB Betting Preview
Washington at St Louis (7:45 p.m. ET)

The Cardinals were able to grab another win to stay atop the NL Central and wound Washington's Wildcard chances at the same time with a 4-2 win on Monday night, beating Stephen Strasburg in the process. Given that this series lined up for Strasburg, Corbin, Scherzer in the rotation for Washington, getting that first game was huge for St Louis and now they can aim to grab a series win with just one victory over the next two nights.

Tonight they've got to deal with the lefty Corbin, and he's been quite the model of consistency for Washington all year long. With the Cubs chasing down both of these teams, will it be the Nationals or the Cardinals that blink on Tuesday evening?

MLB Odds: Washington (-108) vs St Louis (-102); Total set at 8

This line is essentially a pick'em for a contest that should feel like a playoff game, as it's a critical one for both sides. St Louis knows a date with Scherzer is looming on Wednesday and all the challenges that brings, while Washington knows they are now essentially tied with the Cubs for home field in the NL Wildcard game and can't afford to continue to slip up. The good news for Washington in that regard is the fact that Corbin is a southpaw and that's something this Cardinals team has struggled with all year.

St Louis comes into this game ranked 29th of 30 teams in baseball in runs scored vs left-handed pitching,as only the lowly Detroit Tigers are worse. The 137 runs scored against southpaws by St Louis is quite surprising given that they do have some quality right-handed bats on their roster (Goldschmidt, Ozuna etc) and you've got to figure that eventually some of that poor run production will positively regress for St Louis. There is no better time then late-September in the midst of a pennant chase for that to happen, and even with it being someone of the quality of Patrick Corbin on the hill, Cardinals backers/fans are hoping to see that process start tonight.

At the same time, Washington knows they missed out on a quality chance on Monday with Strasburg on the hill, and with Scherzer up on deck, this Corbin start is one they've got to have. They are up against Miles Mikolas this evening, and he's someone who tries to consistently give five solid innings of work for St Louis and let the bullpen take it from there. He can be hit or miss at times in trying to get those 15 or so outs, but he is 3-0 SU in three career starts against the Nationals.

However, two of those three wins for Mikolas and the Cardinals came in games that ended up 7-6, and with Cardinals opponents scoring at least three runs on St Louis in each of Mikolas' last eight starts this year, the Nationals are hoping they can get to him early tonight and give Corbin a lead to pitch with out there. Even with the Cardinals struggles against southpaws this year, guys always prefer to pitch with a lead, and Corbin's not exactly been stellar in his last three starts in that he's given up a HR ball in each of them. With Washington's bullpen still being a huge question mark for this team, and a unit that could end up holding them back from either making the playoffs or finding playoff success, Nationals backers better hope Washington gets out to an early lead and that Corbin has got his best stuff.

In terms of picking a winner, that's probably too close to call given the scenario, as the line is probably priced around where it should be. Depending on the action sportsbooks take throughout the day, we could see either side see their line improve by 10 cents or so, but in a game that's two close to call, I believe it's best to stay away from the side here.

Instead, I'm looking at a total that has already dropped a half-run from the opener, as the market sees/knows about the Cardinals struggles against southpaws and are leaning that way. I can't say I completely disagree with the move as there is plenty of support to look low here, but at the same time, I do believe that positive regression for the Cardinals offense against lefties is somewhere in their foreseeable future. They were able to tag Corbin for 6 runs in just 5 IP when they saw him back at the end of April, and while that's quite long ago now, there is something to be said for one of St Louis' best offensive performances against a lefty this year.

Washington should be able to get 3+ runs off Mikolas given his streak of eight straight starts seeing opponents score at least that many, and in crunch time with the pressure ramped up on both bullpens to get the job done given the playoff scenarios both teams are facing, a few late runs there should push this game 'over' the number.

Finally, we can't forget about one of the weird trends that's live here either as the Cardinals are actually on a 5-0-1 O/U run against lefties right now, which is part of a 18-7-1 O/U run at home against southpaws, both trends that are seemingly counter-intuitive to their run scoring struggles against lefties. But it speaks to these totals typically getting 'under' love and pushing them low enough where the 'under' becomes significantly overvalued, and that's what I'm banking on here.

Best Bet: Over 8 runs

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