Pittsburgh gained a game on St. Louis Friday night, and cashed in as a 7/5 underdog. The Pirates are getting a price again Saturday for Game 2 of this series with the Cardinals.
Pirates-Cardinals Saturday Odds
As of this writing the best price we could find on St. Louis with lefty Jaime Garcia was the -141 offered at GTBets, while Heritage was giving Pittsburgh and Charlie Morton +134.
Pittsburgh grabbed Game 1 of this series Friday night 9-3, snapping a four-game losing streak. St. Louis, meanwhile, has lost two in a row for the first time in two weeks.
At 86-48 St. Louis leads the second-place Pirates by 5.5 games in the NL Central, and is closing in on clinching the top seed for the upcoming National League playoffs.
Pittsburgh, at 80-53, may not catch the Cardinals in the divisional race, but leads the NL wild-card race by four games over the second-place Cubs and 11.5 games over third-place Washington.
These two teams have now split 14 games this season, with the totals going 7-6-1.
Garcia (7-4, 2.03), by our tough accounting, is nine-for-14 on quality starts this season, although only one for his last three. Last Sunday he gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings against San Francisco, and over his last three starts he's allowed eight runs through 18 2/3 innings. For the season Garcia has allowed just 70 hits through 93 innings, walked 20 and struck out 64.
St. Louis is 9-5 in Garcia's starts, with the UNDERS going 9-4.
It's almost hard to believe but this will be Garcia's first start against Pittsburgh since 2012.
Morton (8-6, 4.22) is eight-for-18 on quality starts, and 0 for his last two. Last Sunday he gave up five runs – three earned – in six innings against Colorado, and just before that he gave up five runs – four earned – in 5 1/3 innings against Miami. On the season Morton has allowed 107 hits through 107 innings, walked 32 and struck out 80.
The Pirates are 12-6 in Morton's starts, with the UNDERS going 10-6.
Morton started twice against St. Louis last year, allowing four runs – just one earned – through 13 innings; Pittsburgh lost both those games, although one came by a score of 2-0.
Saturday's Batting Splits
Pittsburgh ranks 10th in the Bigs this season against left-handed pitching with a .324 team on-base percentage, and 17th with a .396 team slugging percentage.
On the other hand St. Louis ranks third against right-handed pitching with a .326 team OBP and 13th with a .407 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
The UNDERS have skewed to the tune of 42-22 in games played at Busch Stadium this season, which are averaging just 6.8 runs per, easily the fewest among all ML ballparks. But our guess is a lot of that has to do with the team that plays there, rather than anything about the ballpark itself. Last year Cardinals home games averaged a more normal 7.9 runs.
Pirates-Cardinals Free Picks
We'll give Garcia the edge in the pitching match-up, but Morton's last two outings against St. Louis haven't been too bad. And with other factors balancing out we feel the value on today's MLB pick resides with Pittsburgh. Also, both these bullpens rank among the top three or four in baseball right now, so we're thinking UNDER.
MLB Picks: Pirates and UNDER 7.5 runs (+110) at 5Dimes.