Astros' Lousy Pitching Almost Forces You To Back Pirates On Matinee Game

Collin McHugh

Mark Lathrop

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 12:08 PM GMT

With both of these teams coming into this game clinging to Wild Card hopes, our MLB handicapper analyzes the pitching matchup to find a good MLB pick for Wednesday's early game.

A very early start time for us on the West Coast as the Houston Astros visit the Pittsburgh Pirates in a game that starts at 12:35 PM EST. Luckily for me, the MLB odds are already out so we can take a good look at this pitching matchup to see if we have any wagering value to be had. The Pirates have opened up as -144 favorites on the Moneyline at Pinnacle, while the run line puts them into plus odds at +156 at the same book if you are willing to give up a run and a half. The O/U total has been posted at 7.5 runs across the board, with Heritage the lone book right now hanging an 8 for the total.

These two teams have been very streaky coming into Monday night’s game. The Astro’s had followed up 5 straight blow up losses with 4 blowout wins. On the other hand, the Pirates followed up 4 easy wins by 4 straight close losses coming into Monday night. It looks like both of those streaks have been broken after Monday. Both of these teams were 3.5 games back of their respective wild card spots coming into Monday as well. Hope hasn’t been lost on the season as of yet, regardless of the outcome of this series.

Starting for the Pirates in this game is Gerrit Cole, who has hit a rough patch after returning from injury in June and July. His first few starts back were fine, but his 5.40 ERA in August isn’t a good sign. It’s only 21.2 innings, though, and Cole’s ability to keep the ball in the yard – he has only given up 5 HR’s on the season over 109 innings pitched – should translate to some positive regression in his results soon. On the season, Cole has posted a 7-8 win-loss record, 3.30 ERA, 91/31 K/BB rate, 1.39 WHIP, and .277 batting average allowed. That batting average allowed number is much higher than average, and could be considered an element of luck, especially with Cole’s home run allowed rate per fly balls of 5.4%. Ground balls are just finding holes it seems.

Taking the mound for the Houston Astros in this game is Collin McHugh, who has fallen back to earth a bit after a breakout 2015 campaign where he posted a 19-7 record. That success has not been sustainable; however, and McHugh has compiled a 7-10 record, 4.99 ERA, 137/39 K/BB rate, 1.52 WHIP, and .301 batting average allowed (yuck!). That batting average allowed has carried across L/R splits too, with McHugh giving up a .299 average against lefties and a .303 average against righties. He’s come down with the dinger flu in August, too. The right-hander has given up an atrocious .637 slugging percentage over 4 starts in August, including 8 home runs – 4 in his last start alone! This is a pitcher that you absolutely can’t trust right now.

So here we are, with two pitchers hitting rough spots, but one having success not too long ago in Cole. Given that this game is in Pittsburgh at a weird starting time for the visiting Astros, I’m inclined to back to back the home team here. That leads me to some line shopping, and 5Dimes has the best line out there for Pittsburgh. It’s breakfast baseball for me on the West Coast, and I’ll be taking Pittsburgh as one of my Wednesday MLB Picks.

2016 YTD MLB: 51-33-4, +16.28 Units
Free MLB Picks: Pirates -135
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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