Low scoring is on the cards when the Chicago Cubs visit the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. While the Cubs’ starter Travis Wood is coming off a poor performance (eight runs allowed in 4 2/3 innings against the Miami Marlins), it appears to be an aberration. Before that he hadn’t giving up more than three runs in a game in seven straight starts. In contrast, the Cardinals’ Lance Lynn's bounce back into form appears legitimate.
Lynn had three straight horrible appearances just before the All-Star Game. It was clear that Lynn, in his first season as a starting pitcher in the Majors, needed a rest. After the break, he showed renewed life, hurling six scoreless innings against the Colorado Rockies. Most important: his fastball velocity was back up after dipping in previous starts. Expect both these pitchers to be on form and go with under 8.5 runs at 1.25 because the over at 1.85 is unlikely to come in.
In contrast, runs will be plentiful when the Baltimore Orioles play in Cleveland against the Indians. Baltimore’s notoriously streaky slugger Mark Reynolds has shown signs of life over the past week, hitting seventy-five points above his season average and knocking in six runs. He should help spark the Orioles offensively.
But the primary reason for scoring in this one is the pitching match-up. The Orioles have Zach Britton slated to start. Britton is a one-time high-end prospect who looked horrible in his season debut, allowing six walks, six hits and four runs over four innings against the Minnesota Twins (he pitched into the fifth but couldn’t get an out).
The Indians' Josh Tomlin is muddling through a poor season. He’s 5-6 with a 5.51 ERA. His most recent start is typical of his work: 5 2/3 innings and four runs on seven hits. Go with over 9.5 runs at 1.95 as the starters should struggle to keep it down.