Cardinals vs. Pirates Series Coverage: MLB Picks

Darin Zank

Friday, May 9, 2014 11:43 AM GMT

Pittsburgh has taken the first two games of this series, following Saturday's 4-3 victory. Can the Pirates complete the sweep when the teams meet Sunday night (8 pm ET, ESPN)? And where should we go with our free pick on this series finale?

 

11th May
Cardinals vs. Pirates Game 3

By: Ron Patrick

 

Sunday's Line
In the early betting most books were listing Sunday's game, which matches Pittsburgh's Charlie Morton against the Cardinals' Shelby Miller, at right around a pick 'em, with a total of 7.5.

[gameodds]3/263776/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Sunday's Pitching Match-Up
Morton (0-4, 3.45) is win-less this season despite some decent work. By our tough standards he's three-for-seven on quality starts, but has given up just five ER over his last 19 1/3 innings. And he's coming off his best outing of the season, Tuesday against San Francisco, when he gave up one unearned run and just three hits over eight innings of a 2-1 Pittsburgh victory. 

On the season Morton has allowed 40 hits in 44 1/3 innings, walked 16 and struck out 28. Pittsburgh is 3-4 in Morton's starts, with the total leaning toward the UNDERS 4-2.

Morton started four times against St. Louis last year, including once in the playoffs, giving up 14 ER and 26 hits in 19 1/3 innings. The Pirates lost all four of those games.

Miller (4-2, 3.20), by our strict standards, is only one-for-seven on quality starts, in part because he's pitched six full innings just three times, and twice he's allowed three runs in six innings, which in our book is not a QS (4.50 ERA).

Last time out Miller gave up two runs in five innings against Atlanta, and just before that he gave up three runs in six innings against Milwaukee.

For the season Miller has allowed 35 hits in 39 1/3 innings, but the seven home runs and 23 walks are a bit much. St. Louis is 4-3 in Miller's starts, with the totals skewing toward the UNDERS by a 5-2 margin.

Miller started four times against Pittsburgh last year, and has already started twice against the Pirates this year. Over those six outings Miller has allowed 18 ER and 38 hits in 33 innings. The Cardinals are just 1-5 in those games, with the totals playing toward the UNDERS by a 4-2 margin.

 

Personnel Update
Pittsburgh OF Andrew McCutchen missed Saturday's game with a sore ankle, and Starling Marte left the game with a sore back. Their status for Sunday is uncertain.

 

Free Pick for Sunday
Miller hasn't had much success against Pittsburgh, but the Pirates may be a bit short-handed tonight. So in believing the Cardinals will try like heck to stave off the sweep we'll take 'em, at the -102 offered at 5Dimes, for our free pick on Sunday's game.

 

10th May
Cardinals vs. Pirates Game 2

By: Ron Patrick

 

Saturday's Line
In the early betting on Saturday's Game 2 St. Louis and Lance Lynn were favored by around -120 over Pittsburgh and Edinson Volquez, with a total of 7.5 runs.

[gameodds]3/263719/?r3=43-19-349/dec&r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Saturday's Pitching Match-Up
Volquez (1-3, 4.19) is three-for-six on quality starts this season, but 0 for his last two. Most recently he got knocked around for six runs in five innings by Toronto, while just before that he gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings to these Cardinals. Before that, he had allowed just six ER through his first four starts.

On the season Volquez has given up 35 hits in 38 2/3 innings, walked nine and struck out 21. Pittsburgh is 2-4 in Volquez' starts, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS 3-2.

Going back to the beginning of last year, when he was with San Diego, Volquez has started four times against St. Louis, allowing 15 ER in 22 1/3 innings. His teams split those four games.

Lynn (4-1, 3.51) is three-for-seven on quality starts this year, but three for his last five. Last time out he gave up two runs in six innings against the Cubs, and over his last five starts he's allowed eight ER through 30 innings.

On the year Lynn has given up 36 hits in 41 innings, with 15 walks and 45 whiffs. St. Louis is 5-2 in Lynn's starts, with the totals going 4-2.

For whatever reasons, Lynn has had trouble with Pittsburgh. Last year, including the playoffs, Lynn went two-for-six on QS against the Pirates, allowing 22 ER in 31 2/3 innings. The Cardinals split those six games, and five of them played OVER the totals.

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Free Pick for Saturday
Once again, we're not sure who's going to win this game, but we do have a lean on the total. Pittsburgh has had success against Lynn, while Volquez hasn't been too sharp as of late. So we'll go with the OVER 7.5 runs, at the +108 offered at Bookmaker, for our free pick on Saturday's game.  

 

9th May
Cardinals vs. Pirates Game 1

By: Ron Patrick

 

The Betting Lines
In the early betting on Friday's series opener Pittsburgh and Francisco Liriano were listed as +120 home dogs against St. Louis and Michael Wacha, with a total of seven.

Also, The Greek was offering the Cardinals at -120 to win this series, with the Pirates “getting” +100.

[gameodds]3/263656/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

The Situation
Pittsburgh just took two of three games from San Francisco, and is 4-2 on its current home-stand.

St. Louis just took two of three games in Atlanta, and is 3-3 on its current road trip.

So the Cardinals, at 18-17, are in second place in the NL Central, four games back of first-place Milwaukee, while the Pirates, at 14-20, are in fourth place, 7.5 games out.

These teams have met twice already this season, each team taking two of three games on their home fields. The totals leaned toward the UNDERS in those games by a 3-1-2 margin.


Friday's Pitching Match-Up
Liriano (0-3, 4.54), by our tough standards, is just two-for-seven on quality starts this season. Most recently he gave up four ER in less than four innings against Toronto, while just before that he was pulled after two innings against these Cardinals due to sickness.

So far Liriano has allowed at least four ER in four of his seven starts. And yet Pittsburgh is 4-3 in Liriano's starts, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS 4-2.

On the season Liriano has given up 36 hits in 37 2/3 innings, walked 17 and whiffed 37.

Liriano has started six times against St. Louis since the beginning of last year, including once in last fall's playoff series and twice already this year. Over that span he's allowed eight ER and 22 hits in 38 innings, with 11 walks and 31 strikeouts. The Pirates won five of those six games.

Wacha (2-3, 2.55) has been pitching in some tough luck this year. He's four-for-seven on quality starts, but St. Louis is only 2-5 for him.

Last time out Wacha held the Cubs to two runs through six innings, but the Cardinals lost 3-0. Just before that he gave up three runs in 6 1/3 innings, but St. Louis fell to Milwaukee 5-3.

For the season Wacha, a first-round draft pick just two years ago, has allowed 36 hits in 42 1/3 innings, walked 13 and stuck out 50.

The totals have gone toward the UNDERS 4-3 in Wacha's starts this year.

Including the playoffs, Wacha started twice against Pittsburgh last year, giving up just one ER and three hits in 14 1/3 innings; St. Louis won both those games.

In the bullpen comparison the Pirates rank fifth with a 2.77 ERA but have blown more saves, nine, than they've converted, six; meanwhile the Cardinals ranks 13th with a 3.62 ERA and are nine-for-12 on save conversions.

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At the Bat
St. Louis has struggled with the sticks this year, ranking 19th in team OBP at .312, 26th in homers with 21, dead last in stolen bases with nine and 27th in scoring at just 3.6 runs per game. Apparently the Cardinals miss Carlos Beltran. And that OBP drops to .294 against left-handed pitching.

Pittsburgh hasn't been much better, ranking 21st in scoring at 3.9 RPG, 17th in OBP at .316, with 31 homers. That OBP sits at .314 against right-handed pitching.


Cardinals-Pirates Betting Trends
Pittsburgh has won nine of the last 12 meetings in this series played at PNC Park.

St. Louis has been playing, collectively, some of the lowest-scoring games in baseball this season, averaging just 6.7 total RPG. The Cardinals have leaned toward the UNDERS by an 18-14 margin.


Injury Update
Pittsburgh is still playing without C Russell Martin (15 HR last year), who's on the DL with a bad hamstring. Since he went down Pirates catchers have combined for zero extra-base hits.

 
Free Pick for Friday
We're not sure who's going to win this game, but our guess is it will be low-scoring. So we'll go with the UNDER seven runs (-120) offered at Bookmaker for our free pick on Friday's game.