St. Louis and Pittsburgh are separated by three games in their playoff race, and begin a three-game series monday night. Which way are we going with our free MLB picks on this contest?
Cardinals vs. Pirates: Monday Odds
In the early betting action on this one the best MLB odds we could find on Pittsburgh with lefty JA Happ was the -134 offered at GTBets, while St. Louis with Lance Lynn was getting +128 at Heritage. Bettors thinking about chasing a price could also get the Pirates at +165 on the run line at 5Dimes.
St. Louis just split four games at home with Milwaukee over the weekend, but blew a 3-1 ninth-inning lead and lost Sunday 8-4. Still, the Cardinals are 10-4 over their last 14 games.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just took two of three games from the Cubs in Chicago over the weekend, missing out on the sweep and having its eight-game winning streak snapped by a 4-0 loss Sunday night. Still, the Pirates have won three series in a row.
Big-picture, at 98-58 St. Louis leads 95-61 Pittsburgh by three games in the NL Central. The Pirates also lead the NL wild-card race by 4.5 games over the Cubs, but they'd love to avoid that wild-card play-in game.
This season series sits at eight games apiece, with the OVERS going 8-7-1.
Monday's Mound Match-Up
A rejuvenated Happ (6-2, 2.28), by our strict standards, is only 11-for-29 on quality starts this season, four-for-nine since joining Pittsburgh in that deadline trade with Seattle. But he's only four outs away from being seven for his last eight on QS. Last Tuesday he gave up three runs through 5 1/3 innings at Colorado, but over his seven starts previous to that he held foes to just six runs through 41 2/3 innings.
The Pirates are 7-2 in Happ's starts for them, with the UNDERS going 7-2.
In his one start this season against St. Louis, back on Sept. 4, Happ threw seven innings of three-hit, shutout ball in a 9-3 Pittsburgh victory.
Lynn (12-10, 3.16) is 18-for-29 on quality starts, but only one for his last four. Last Wednesday he tossed six innings of three-hit, shutout ball against Cincinnati, but over his three starts previous to that he allowed 12 runs through 11 2/3 innings. He also walked 11 batters during that span.
On the season the Cardinals are 16-13 in Lynn's starts, with the UNDERS going 19-9.
In three starts this season against the Pirates Lynn has allowed 13 runs – nine earned – through 11 2/3 innings; St. Louis is 1-2 in those games, with the OVERS going 2-1.
Monday's Batting Splits
St. Louis ranks 23rd this season against left-handed pitching with a .310 team on-base percentage, and 28th with a .358 team slugging percentage. The Cardinals are 40 games above .500 overall, 24-18 against LH starters.
Pittsburgh, on the other hand, ranks fifth against right-handed pitching with a .326 team OBP, 18th with a .401 team slugging percentage.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at PNC Park this season are 37-34 on the OVERS, averaging 7.8 runs per.
Cards-Pirates Free Picks
We give Happ the edge in the pitching match-up, in part because of Lynn's recent track record against this Pittsburgh lineup, and the Pirates own an edge with the sticks, because the St. Louis lineup struggles against lefties. So we'll add Pittsburgh to the list of free MLB picks for Monday. Also, both these bullpens rank among the top three or four in baseball at the moment, so we're thinking UNDER.
MLB Picks: Pirates -138 & UNDER 7.5 runs (-125) at YouWager