mlb
02.04.2024

St. Louis Cardinals @ San Diego Padres Game Preview and Pick: Mikolas Struggles Again Early

Following a rough series against the Dodgers, the Cardinals opened their second straight California series with a win over the San Diego Padres. The Cardinals will now return to the top of their starting rotation and hand Miles Mikolas the ball. While the Padres have come out of the gate a bit slow, they still have the capabilities to jump on the veteran right-hander from the first pitch of the game.

Game Preview

One of the more intriguing aspects of the San Diego Padres this season is their starting rotation. Three big names fill out the top three spots, while potential breakout starter Michael King occupies the fourth. However, the 5th spot in the rotation is where things get interesting, as they have knuckleball specialist Matt Waldron penciled in.

After a strong spring training, Waldron made his first start with the team yesterday, which did not go as planned. Over four innings of work, Waldron allowed four earned runs on nine hits, but, at the very least, he was able to rack up seven strikeouts. Following their 6-2 loss, the Padres will change speeds on the mound today by rolling out Yu Darvish for his third start of the season.

Darvish took the ball in the team’s opening series in South Korea and again when they hosted the San Francisco Giants on March 28th. In that start against the Giants, the veteran right-hander worked five innings while racking up seven punchouts and allowing just one earned run.

Stepping into the box against Darvish tonight will be a Cardinals lineup fresh off its best offensive performance this young season. In their win last night, St. Louis tallied 14 hits, two of which would leave the yard off the bats of Wilson Contreras and Brendan Donovan.

The Cardinals will be looking to win back-to-back games for the first time this season, and they will hand the ball to Miles Mikolas for his second start. Following a rough 2023 season, Mikolas picked up where he left off in his first outing of the year, allowing five earned runs on seven hits in just 4.1 innings of work.

Pick for the Game

After having a slight disadvantage in the starting pitcher department yesterday, the Padres have turned the tables by sending out their staff's ace tonight. With Darvish toeing the rubber, the Padres have the edge before their struggling bullpen takes over, which is why I’ll be taking their F5 run-line of (-.5)(+100) on Caesars Sportsbook.

The Cardinals may have jumped all over Matt Waldron yesterday, but on the young season, they still rank 23rd in wRC+, 22nd in wOBA, and 22nd in OPS against right-handed pitching, per FanGraphs. St. Louis has also scored two or fewer runs in the first five innings in four of their first five games, and now they need to face a starter in Yu Darvish, who is already in the 71st percentile in barrel percentage this season, per Baseball Savant.

Offensively, the Padres only managed five hits yesterday, yet they still rank 6th in wRC+ and OPS against right-handed pitching up to this point (FanGraphs). Miles Mikolas is also a favorable matchup for them since his early-inning struggles continued in his first start of the year. Last season, Mikolas had a 6.23 ERA in the first inning, and he started this season by allowing two runs in the first inning. With Mikolas also pitching to a 4.97 xFIP last season on the road, San Diego should be able to get to him early and often.

Recap

  • San Diego Padres F5 (-.5)(+100) on Caesars Sportsbook

*odds subject to change

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