Baseball wagering handicappers continue to come around into believing that the Reds are truly for real as they have been one of the biggest money winners with the baseball odds in 2010.
The St. Louis Cardinals were expected to have a cakewalk to the NL Central title again this year as the Chicago Cubs have proven to be down and out for good while the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, and Pittsburgh Pirates have nothing to contend with leaving the Central as a two team race between the Reds and Cards.
While the Reds did show improvement last year there was considerable doubt about the ability of their pitching staff to carry them to the pennant. Cincinnati entered the All Star break with the 5th ranked offensive attack in the big leagues and the pitching has just been good enough as it ranked 19th for staff earned run average.
The modern version of the “Big Red Machine” is led by Joey Votto, who was hitting a team best .314 with 22 home runs and 60 runs batted in. Scott Rolen added 17 home runs to go with his .292 average. Starting pitching has been surprisingly strong as Johnny Cueto was 8-2 with a 3.42 ERA.
Mike Leake was 6-1 with a 3.53 ERA and Bronson Arroyo was 9-4 with a 4.04 ERA. Closer is the big MLB gambling concern for the Reds as Francisco Cordero was 3-3 with 24 saves but 6 blown saves and a far too high 4.24 ERA.
The Cardinals have had the opposite problems of the Reds in that offense has been their downfall. St. Louis ranked only 18th in run production while ranking a stellar 2nd for staff earned run average. Because of their past success and reputation as the chalk the Redbirds command expensive prices and that has made them one of the biggest money losers on the board.
Albert Pujols is having a nice season, but nowhere near his normal numbers of recent years. Pujols was hitting .307 with 21 home runs and 64 runs batted in.
The Cardinals are going to need to help give Pujols support as he is pitched around more often than not and cannot carry the lineup by himself. Adam Wainwright, Jaime Garcia, and Chris Carpenter make for one of the best trios in any starting rotation.