Two teams who should meet more often hook up as the Pirates and Indians begin a three-game inter-league series at PNC park. This handicapper found two MLB picks to profit with tonight.
Indians-Pirates Friday Betting Odds
As of early Friday morning the best price we could find on Pittsburgh and Charlie Morton was the -131 offered at BetOnline, while WagerWeb was giving Cleveland and Trevor Bauer +125. And most of the betting market was listing a total on tonight's game of 7.5 runs.
Also, BetOnline was chalking the Pirates at -150 to win this series, with the Tribe getting +130.
Cleveland just swept a four-game series at Tampa Bay, completing the brooming with a 5-4 extra-innings victory Thursday. But prior to that the Indians had lost three series in a row. At 37-41 Cleveland is eight games back in the AL Central, and 4.5 games back in the race for the second American League wild-card slot.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just swept three games from the Tigers in Detroit, winning 8-4 Thursday. The Pirates have won two series in a row, and five of their last six games. At 45-33 Pittsburgh is six games back in the NL Central, but leads the National League wild-card race by 2.5 games over the Cubs.
These two teams don't play each other often enough, last meeting back in 2012, when the Pirates took two of three games at Progressive Field.
Friday's Pitching Match-Up
Morton (6-1, 4.28) is four-for-seven on quality starts this season, but 0 for his last two. Last Saturday he gave up four runs and 10 hits in six innings against Atlanta, and just before that he got drilled for nine runs in less than one inning against Washington. But if not for that dismal performance against the Nats Morton's ERA for the season would be 2.29. Pittsburgh is 6-1 in Morton's starts this year, with the totals splitting 3-3.
Bauer (6-5, 3.96) is nine-for-15 on quality starts this year, but also 0 for his last two. Last Sunday he gave up four runs in seven innings against Baltimore, and just before that he got bombed by Detroit for seven runs in three innings. In fact, Bauer has allowed at least four runs in three of his last four starts. On the season Bauer has allowed fewer hits, 76, than innings pitched, 91, although 10 of those have left the park. Cleveland is 7-8 in Bauer's starts, while the totals have leaned UNDER by a 9-5 margin.
Neither of tonight's starting pitchers has faced tonight's opponents, which in our minds translates into advantage: pitchers.
Friday's Batting Splits
Pittsburgh ranks eighth in the Majors this season with a .322 team on-base percentage against right-handed pitching, while Cleveland ranks 17th against righties with a .315 OBP.
Ballpark Totals Trends
Games played at PNC Park this season are 19-17 on the OVERS, even though they've averaged just 7.2 runs per. Apparently bookmakers have been posting some low totals on Pirates home games.
Free MLB Picks
Our guess is Morton's recent troubles are just a burp; we expect a bounce-back performance tonight.
Also, considering neither lineup has faced tonight's starting pitchers, and both bullpens rank in the top ten, we're thinking UNDER.
MLB Picks: Pittsburgh -131 at BetOnline and UNDER 7.5 runs (-115) at Heritage