The Houston Astros know they have to survive for the next few weeks. They don't have to dominate or go on a seven-game winning streak, but they can't play sub-.500 baseball. They at least need to break even and stay in the hunt in the American League West and the American League wild card races. Without the injured Yordan Alvarez, the Astros just aren't the same team, much as the New York Yankees aren't the same without Aaron Judge. The Astros' situation in 2023 is made even more complicated by the fact that they are without two regular rotation starters, Lance McCullers and Luis Garcia. Moreover, Cristian Javier — who struggled on Wednesday night against the Cardinals but was bailed out by the offense — has not had a strong 2023 campaign through the first three months of play. There are a lot of weak spots on this team, and it just has to get to the All-Star break without losing a lot of ground. If the Astros can break even and stay relatively close to the pack in the A.L. wild card chase, they will have reason to think everything will come together when Yordan returns to the team later this summer.
The St. Louis Cardinals can't play break-even baseball. They're almost 15 games under .500. Even in the subpar National League Central, they're well out of first place and simply have to make a big push before too long. Going 6-4 in a 10-game stretch won't do it. The Cardinals need to win two-thirds of their games over the next few weeks. They need to get hot and stay hot, but time is not unlimited for them.
Here are the Astros-Cardinals MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Odds: Astros-Cardinals Odds
Houston Astros: -1.5 (+128)
St. Louis Cardinals: +1.5 (-154)
Over: 10 (-110)
Under: 10 (-110)
How To Watch Astros vs Cardinals
TV: AT&T SportsNet Houston (Astros) / Bally Sports Midwest (Cardinals) / MLB Extra Innings
Time: 7:15 p.m. ET/4:15 p.m. PT
*Watch Astros-Cardinals LIVE on fuboTV (click for a free trial)*
Why The Astros Could Cover The Spread
The Astros are going up against a St. Louis team whose bullpen continues to implode. It has been happening all season long, and it happened Wednesday night. The Cardinals got a 6-3 lead, then a 7-5 lead, but were not able to hold on for the win. The Astros attacked St. Louis relievers relentlessly and were able to score five runs against the Cardinal pen. So many winnable games have slipped through the Redbirds' fingers this year, and many of them were lost by the bullpen.
That point aside, St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright just isn't the same pitcher without Yadier Molina guiding him behind the plate. Cardinal pitchers just aren't getting the same level of game-calling they received from Molina last year. Many people think — and it's a widely agreed-upon point — that Wainwright should have called it a career when Molina did, instead of coming back for another season.
Why The Cardinals Could Cover The Spread
The Cardinals are struggling, but they have handled Houston pitching well. Scoring four runs off Framber Valdez on Tuesday and then scoring seven runs on Wednesday represents a good level of offensive output for St. Louis. Moreover, with Yordan Alvarez out, Houston probably won't be able to keep pace if the Cardinals can score seven runs. It happened on Wednesday, but it's unlikely to happen two straight nights. The Astros just aren't a pitching-strong team right now, and they lack their superstar slugger. It's not a recipe for success.
Final Astros-Cardinals Prediction & Pick
You should stay away from this game, given how frail the Astros are. They're a better team than St. Louis, but they're nowhere close to full-strength.
Final Astros-Cardinals Prediction & Pick: Astros -1.5