Pitching Change Suggest A Bet on Pirates-Cardinals Total

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 11:02 AM GMT

The St. Louis Cardinals are small-ish home faves on the MLB odds board for Tuesday's game with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Someone didn't get the memo about Jameson Taillon.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs St. Louis Cardinals
Shouldn't the St. Louis Cardinals be doing better than this? Monday's 4-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates (+166 away) leaves St. Louis 2.40 units in the red with a record of 43-39. Not a disaster by any means, but the Cardinals have a run differential of plus-80 this season. That translates to a Pythagorean record of 49-33. Only two MLB teams have better run differentials at press time: the Chicago Cubs (plus-155), and the Washington Nationals (plus-99).

The Pirates (42-41, +0.26 units), on the other hand, are right about where they belong. They have a minus-3 run differential after Monday's result. But they've also won five straight games to get back above .500, and they look like a good value pick for Tuesday's game (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN) at +130 on the MLB odds board.

You're Up, Kid
Or at least they did until a couple of minutes ago. I just spent a few paragraphs waxing poetic about Pittsburgh's scheduled starter, hot rookie prospect Jameson Taillon. But the Pirates have placed him on the 15-day DL with “right shoulder fatigue.” Steven Brault has been called up from AAA-Indianapolis to start Tuesday's game. This will be Brault's first big-league start. Well, back to the old drawing board.

Brault (2.83 FIP in eight starts for Indy) was the “player to be named later” in the 2015 trade that sent OF Travis Snider to the Baltimore Orioles. Stephen Tarpley was the other southpaw pitcher the Pirates got in return. While Brault is a few rungs below Tarpley on Pittsburgh's prospect ladder, he's the more MLB-ready of the two, with strong command of three pitches and a deceptive throwing motion. He could be trouble for the Cardinals on Tuesday.

St. Louis responds with Mike Leake (4.39 FIP), who's had some issues since signing with the Cards during the offseason. Leake hasn't pitched all that poorly, but he's prone to the occasional blowout, and St. Louis is down 3.10 units on a team record of 7-9 behind the sixth-year veteran. We haven't seen any movement yet in the odds for Tuesday's matchup; if the Cardinals get any chalkier, this could be a good spot to put the underdogs in your MLB picks.

Fantasy Corner
Current Pirates have a combined .745 OPS versus Leake, so if you need some lumber for your fantasy team, may we recommend IF David Freese (.822 OPS)? He's having something of a comeback season at age 33, and he's 11-of-22 lifetime versus Leake with a 1.249 OPS. Freese is only owned in 6.2 percent of ESPN leagues at press time.

Meanwhile, since we don't really know what the baseball odds are going to look like by the time you read this, let's bail and take the OVER for Tuesday's matchup. Leake has the OVER at 10-5-1 for St. Louis this year, and neither team's bullpen has performed very well. That's going to matter a little more with Brault making his debut on short notice – on the Worldwide Leader, no less. Enjoy the game, and may the sphere be with you.

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2993271, "sportsbooksIds":[93,1096,169,999996,180,139], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
Free MLB Pick: over 8 –115
Best Line Offered: at Heritage
Record: 16-13 ML, 5-2-1 Totals (+6.69 units)