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MLB Picks: Series Coverage for Pirates vs. Yankees

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18th May
Pirates vs. Yankees Game 3

By: Willie Bee


It was vintage New York Yankees on Saturday as they sluggedfive home runs and got solid pitching to skate past the Pittsburgh Pirates,7-1.  The victory helped the Yanks into a1st-place tie in the AL East with Baltimore,and they’ll try to assume occupancy of the division’s penthouse all bythemselves with a doubleheader sweep Sunday.

The rain-interrupted interleague set draws to a close with apair of tilts, the first one commencing at 1:05 PM (ET) with Charlie Morton pitchingfor the Pirates against Hiroki Kuroda.  New York is pricedaround -140 on the MLB odds with an 8.5 run total.

Game 2 is tentatively set for a 4:30 first pitch andfeatures Gerrit Cole on the mound against New York‘s Vidal Nuno.  Cole and the Bucs are small chalk with mostshops listed on SBR’s live baseball odds running with a 9 run total.

Compare the top MLB World Series Betting Lines

Game 1 – Morton StillIn Search Of First Dubya
If anyone ever needed a good example of why wins are oftenno indication of how a pitcher is performing, Morton would fill that bill.  The Jerseynative has a very respectable 3.22 ERA — almost a run-&-a-half lower thanhis career mark — with only three homers surrendered in his first 50+ innings,yet sits 0-5 on the campaign.  The onlygood news is the Bucs have won all three of his no-decisions. 

Morton’s homerless streak is at 27.1 IP as he prepares toface the Yankees for the first time in his career.  Pittsburghis 1-3 the previous four interleague starts with Morton sporting a fat 7.00ERA.

Kuroda was on the mound thispast Monday when the Yanks and Mets opened their series in the Bronx,picking up a no-decision with six innings and four runs allowed of an eventual9-7 win for the visitors.  His 4.62 ERAon the season is more than a run higher than his career mark, and New York is 3-5 in hiseight assignments.  He hasn’t faced thePirates since 2011, his final year with the Dodgers, and LA was 5-2 in hisseven starts against them while Kuroda pitched to a sterling 1.84 ERA.


Game 2 – Nuno NeedsGood Effort In Front of Home Fans
Cole has had a rather ho-hum season to date, at least byexpectations, with the Bucs 4-4 in his eight trips to the bump following a 5-2loss in Milwaukeelast Tuesday.  Cole failed to get throughthe sixth for the second time in three starts, surrendering the first threeBrewers runs.  This is his first look atthe Yankees, Pittsburgh winning two of his threecareer assignments vs. ALsquads.

Nuno’s days in the New York rotation could be numbered if he fails to turnin a strong effort on Sunday.  The leftywill definitely hear boo birds if he has another rough outing in front ofYankee fans since he has produced nothing but ugly results in the Bronx; Nunoowns a 10.91 ERA in 15.2 IP at home, 0.73 in 12.1 IP on road.  This will be his first crack at the Pirates,and only the second NL club he has faced in his career.

I’m going to run with New York with free MLB picks in both games.

My picks: Yankees-140; Yankees +105

Season: 41-39(+0.7)



17th May
Pirates vs. Yankees Game 2

By: Willie Bee


Image previewThe New York Yankees are having more than their fair shareof bad luck on the injury front this season. They also seem to be on Mother Nature’s bad side after suffering a thirdrainout of the season on Friday with the Pittsburgh Pirates in town for the firstof a 3-game interleague set.

Instead of a Friday night series opener, the clubs will playthe first game Saturday afternoon with a national broadcast provided by FOXSports 1 beginning at 4 PM (ET). Pittsburgh and New York are slated to make up Friday’s postponement witha doubleheader on Sunday.

The decision to cancel Game 1 was made early Friday afternoonwhen it was obvious a steady rain in the NYC area was not going to let up. That allows for both teams to stick withtheir original game plans as far as the rotations go for the weekend, meaningwe’ll see Edinson Volquez on the hill for the Pirates and David Phelps hurlingfor the Yankees.

Baseball bettors are looking at very similar numbers posted24 hours earlier thanks to no change in the mound duel. New York ispriced a tad higher than on Friday, Bronxbackers needing to pony up -135 on the moneyline. The total also skipped up a half-run to 9 onSBR’s live baseball odds.

Will Rainout HelpBreak Bucs’ Bad Spell?
Pittsburgh‘s poor start tothe 2014 season looked to be turning around last week with a 4-game win streakagainst a pair of contending clubs, San Franciscoand St. Louis. The good vibes didn’t last long, however, asthe Pirates dropped three of the next four before arriving in New York.

Manager Clint Hurdle and his crew can only hope thatFriday’s washout turns out to be the break they were looking for afterstruggling through the first 6+ weeks of the schedule. A year ago, the Bucs were 23-17 through 40games, and that record is reversed presently at 17-23.

It’s a bit tricky to find the source of the problem. Scoring is up for the offense, though ever soslightly with the Pirates plating 3.95 runs per game compared to 3.91 in2013. The pitching staff has seen itsERA balloon from 3.26 a year ago, third-lowest in the NL, to 3.84 which ranks11th presently. The rotation isresponsible for that increase, 14th in the Senior Circuit with a 4.39mark. But while the bullpen’s ERA isfairly level, relievers have blown 10 of 19 save chances after leading the NLwith 55 saves in 2013.


Beleaguered YanksRotation Gets Extra Day Of Rest
The cancellation of Game 1, coupled with Monday’s day off,should help New Yorkmanager Joe Girardi afford some of his starting pitchers some extra rest. Only Masahiro Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda areleft from Girardi’s rotation to begin the season thanks to injuries, andGirardi has been forced to turn to the likes of today’s hurler Phelps alongwith Vidal Nuno and Chase Whitley to fill in for CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova andMichael Pineda.

The weatherman is calling for a nice afternoon Saturday withplenty of sunshine and temps climbing to about 70º. Sunday looks about the same so the rest ofthis series shouldn’t be bothered by Mother Nature.

There will still be a nice westerly breeze today, around 10mph and potentially giving the ball a little extra carry. I’m sticking with my original Friday freepick, however, and making a play on the ‘under.’

My pick: Pirates-YankeesUnder 9

Season: 40-39(+0.75)


16th May
Pirates vs. Yankees Game 1

By: Willie Bee


It’s the only interleague series on the MLB docket for thenext three days, and one we have only seen three times previously as thestruggling Pittsburgh Pirates head to New York to take on the Yankees.

Friday’s opener is set for a 7:05 PM (ET) first pitch, thatoffering to be delivered by New York‘sDavid Phelps.  Edinson Volquez gets theball for the Pirates, and the Yankees can be found from the upper -120s toupper -130s on SBR’s live baseball odds. The battle also features an 8.5 run total that favors the ‘over.’

With interleague play now firmly entrenched in its 18thseason, one thing that is becoming less common is AL-NL teams playing eachother more in the World Series than regular season.  That’s still the case with the Bucs and Yanks,however, who have 11 World Series games under their belts compared to just nineregular season meetings entering this series.

The clubs have produced two memorable Fall Classics, a New York sweep in 1927 and Pittsburgh‘s dramatic 7-game victory in 1960,the Pirates walking offon Bill Mazeroski’s home run.  TheYankees have owned the regular season matchups, winning nine of seven andsweeping both sets in New York(2005, 2007) where five of the six games went past the total.


Bucs Reach Gotham OffDisappointing Loss In Milwaukee
The road trip didn’t start well for Pittsburgh (17-23, -7.3 units, 17-19-4) afterdropping two of three to the NL Central-leading Brewers.  Milwaukeerallied in the ninth to take that series finale on Thursday, 4-3, handing theBucs their third setback in four games. 

Volquez came strong out of the chute with nice efforts ineach of his first four starts for the Pirates, but has since gone south inthree subsequent appearances.  TheCardinals and Blue Jays pounded him hard to end April and begin May, plating sixruns vs. Volquez in each of those outings. He cruised through four frames last Saturday at home in his third startof the season against St. Louis, but then the wheels came off and he failed toget through the fifth.

The Dominican has faced the Yankees just once before, thatappearance coming at old Yankee Stadium in a 2008 interleague start for theReds.  Volquez was up to the task thenwith seven innings, five strikeouts and only two runs allowed to get the win.

Yanks Blank MetsTwice To End Subway Series
New York(21-19, -0.9 units, 20-20 O/U) is playing its secondstraight interleague series after finishing up with the Mets at Citi Fieldon Thursday.  The Yankees lost the firsttwo games of that set at home before shutting out their crosstown rivals tosplit the four games.

With New York‘srotation ravaged by injuries, it would appear Phelps will remain part of thestarting staff for the foreseeable future. The Yankees have dropped each of his two assignments so far, though theformer Notre Dame standout pitchedwell enough to win the opener of the series with the Angels on April 5,only to get no help from his lineup or his bullpen.

Friday will be the first time Phelps faces the Pirates, andonly his third start against an NL club. The righthander was solid in an assignment at Coors Field a little morethan a year go (6 IP, 2 ER, 3 H), before getting bounced off the mound in thetop of the first at home by the Mets a few weeks later.

A steady rain is in the forecast for New York City on Friday, with an 80%-100%chance of precipitation being projected. There’s also some strong winds in the mix (SE 20-25 mph, in fromright).  The next two days look fine, sowhile nobody wants a rainout followed by a doubleheader, it’s a very realpossibility.

I hate the weather forecast for this one and have seriousdoubts it will be played all the way through. I also have serious concerns for the pitchers, but will give theforecast a stronger consideration with a free MLB pick on the low side of thetotal.

My pick: Pirates-YankeesUnder 8.5 (+105)

Season: 40-39(+0.75)