Cardinals Your MLB Pick to Soar In Game 1 vs. Pirates

Swinging Johnson

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 3:10 PM UTC

Tuesday, Apr. 5, 2016 3:10 PM UTC

NL Central foes get reacquainted after the Pirates delivered a 4-1 victory in their opener on Sunday over the Cardinals. Let’s break this one down and review the MLB odds.

Cardinals Offense Sputters
St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright took the loss in Sunday’s series opener against the Pirates and had virtually no offense to back him up. Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina was the only hitter producing as he delivered a pair of hits and was the only Redbird to cross the plate, which came off the bat of Matt Carpenter who notched a two out single in the top of the ninth. When the dust settled the Pirates came away with a 4-1 victory off the arm of Francisco Liriano, who struck out 10 in his six innings of work.

Second man up in the rotation Michael Wacha gets the nod as he hopes to replicate a better than solid 2015 campaign in which he posted a 17-7 record complemented by a 3.38 ERA over 181 innings of work. Though Wacha has had favorable results throughout his career when facing the Pirates with a 3-1 record and a 3.19 ERA, he was torched at PNC Park last season where he went 1-1 with a 7.20 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in two starts and 10 innings of work.


Bucs Look to Make It Two
Pittsburgh is looking for a return to the postseason and they started the season off right with a victory over their NL Central rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals. Nine hits produced four runs and the hitting was distributed throughout the lineup with six batters contributing to the offense and an admirable performance from the pitching staff led by starter Francisco Liriano. The Pirates were 8-10 against the Cardinals last season but 5-4 at PNC Park. Their win on Sunday exorcised some of the demons from their final meeting with St. Louis where they were drilled 11-1 on September 30th.

Southpaw and former Met Jon Niese will take the bump for Pittsburgh tonight and hopes to improve upon his 4.13 ERA and 1.398 WHIP from his 2015 season with New York. Niese has had moderate success against St. Louis posting a 4-3 record and a 3.10 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in nine performances. However, last season the Cardinals got the better of him as he was 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA in two starts with the Mets. Niese is 3-1 lifetime at PNC Park with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.457 WHIP.


Betting Analysis
Here we have a premium pitcher in Wacha opposed by a middle tier chucker in Jon Niese. The Bucs are without their No. 2 man Gerrit Cole who is recovering from offseason surgery, therefore Niese gets his spot in the rotation by default. However, in order for the Cards to take advantage of this pitching mismatch they will have to begin hitting which is something they failed to do last season scoring a total of 647 runs for 24th place in the major leagues. Conversely, the Bucs were 11th with 697 runs plated and looked poised to do so again in their opener on Sunday.

Despite the fact that Pittsburgh poses a more immediate danger from their lineup, I am favoring the Cardinals in my MLB picks for tonight. They have an excellent pitcher in Wacha who has done well against the Pirates while Jon Niese is more of an innings eater than a quality starter and certainly not a No. 2 man in the rotation. Here are a few stats to back up the Cardinals as the team to beat here:

St. Louis 11-2 in Wacha’s last 13 starts after being held to two runs or less in their last game

St. Louis is 11-4 in Wacha’s last 15 starts vs. NL Central

St. Louis is 5-1 in their last six vs. a lefty starter

After reviewing the MLB odds in this one we will side with the small road dig here.

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Free MLB Pick: St. Louis +102 
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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