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August 18th 2014 - Posted at 4:00 PM ET

Sports Profit System is confident of a strong MLB month in August! There will of course be both wins and losses throughout the 31 days but it will be an excellent month when it's all over. Then comes September and it is no secret that football has always been our best sport. We outdo any service that is willing to be honest and transparent with results and enjoyed the highest football profit of all in 2013! Not every weekend was a good one but NFL and NCAA football were both lucrative and brought us just over 45 units (not factoring in juice) combined last season!

Take St. Louis Cardinals (-136) on the Money Line against Cincinnati Reds risking 2%
(Masterson and Leake must start)

Both the Cardinals and the Reds are battling for a spot in the playoffs this year. The Cardinals are currently 3 games back of the division leading Brewers but do currently own a 1 game lead over others in the NL Wildcard race. The Reds meanwhile have a much tougher hill to climb if they want to make the post-season this year. Cincinnati limps into the series opener licking their wounds after an extremely poor showing against the Rockies in Denver. The Reds' pitchers were largely dominated, surrending 29 total runs and dropping 3 of 4 which include both of yesterday's two games. The double-header had to be the icing on the cake on Sunday as the Reds went into the 9th inning of the first game with a commanding 9-5 lead. Arolidis Chapman then proceeded to walk the first 4 batters however before being taken out of the game but the damage had already been done. Colorado ended up scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the 9th to complete an improbable comeback and a crushing 10-9 defeat for the Reds!

The second game of the doubleheader played out in a similar fashion. The Reds had a 5-2 lead in the 7th inning only to surrender 8 runs in the final two frames to again walk out losers. Those two heart-breaking losses are difficult to quickly shake off. The game finished well after 11:00pm (central time) last night and the Reds had to then immediately take a flight to St Louis. The players didn't arrive until the early morning and will be in less than optimal condition both physically and mentally. Fatigue and jetlag will play a role as will the disappointment of yesterday's two games and that should give Mike Matheny's team an immediate advantage tonight.

Cincinnati has also been dealing with a number of injuries to key personnel over the last couple of months which has taken its toll on their offense. Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto are two of the bigger bats who have been out due to injury and a big reason for the inconsistent output by the Reds lineup. Phillips may be back in the lineup today but with this being his first MLB game in quite sometime, he's unlikely to be at his best. Todd Frazier has also been dealing with back issues and sat out of the double-header against Colorado yesterday and is questionable for tonight's contest. He is the best piece of the Reds offense this season and not having him in the lineup or at 100% is a big blow. Frazier leads Cincinnati in batting average, home runs, RBI and on-base percentage! He is a player who basically does it all for the team. For the Cardinals, other than Yadier Molina who has already been out for some time, they are quite healthy and have good depth in most positions.

This is a big series for both of these NL Central teams. The Cardinals currently have the best record in the NL against division opponents at 27-19 and this is their chance to essentially eliminate the Reds from the playoff race while boosting their own chances. A poor showing in this series would not only allow the Reds to gain valuable ground but put their Wild Card position in jeopardy with SF Giants, Pirates and Braves breathing down their necks. This is the point of the season when each and every win counts for these "bubble" teams especially against direct rivals. The Cardinals are currently on the bubble, while the Reds may be just too far on the outside now to have the will to put up a good fight. 

On paper, it may appear that the pitching matchup should favor the Reds in this contest when comparing seasonal ERAs with Mike Leake on the mound facing off against Justin Masterson but that is quite a simplistic view. Mike Leake has struggled against the Cardinals in his career and is just 3-5 with an ERA of 4.91 and a WHIP of 1.381 in 10 starts against them! Meanwhile Justin Masterson has been excellent against the Reds with a 2.86 ERA and 0.952 WHIP! Cincinnati's deflating double-header loss and recent bullpen problems means the Cards are in a prime spot to take advantage! Both Matt Holiday and Matt Adams have had success against Leake and should continue that tonight.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • St. Louis is 7-3 in their last 10 home series openers!
  • Cardinals are 6-2 in their last 8 games as a home favorite.
  • Cincinnati is just 5-10 as a road underdog of +125 to +150 this season.
  • The Reds have hit just .198 against Masterson with 17 hits, 3 homers and 8 RBIs in 86 at-bats!

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