Free MLB Picks: Back Cardinals To Avoid Sweep Against Pirates

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, April 7, 2016 10:01 PM GMT

Thursday, Apr. 7, 2016 10:01 PM GMT

The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates meet for the 3rd game of this 3-game series.  The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 ET. Who will beat the MLB odds?

St. Louis Cardinals (Leake) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Nicasio) (-110) 7:05 ET
After being held in check by Liriano, who recorded 10ks, in the opener, St. Louis took Pittsburgh to extra innings last night in the 2nd of a 3-game set.  When Polanco scored on opposite field single by Mercer in the bottom of the 11th, the Pirates escaped with a 6-5 win.  For consecutive games, the Cardinals had trouble recording timely hits.  As a result, they are just 3 for 22 with RISP in this series.

The Pirates have made a statement with victories in the first 2 games of this series.  After finishing 2 games behind St. Louis in each of the last 2 seasons, Pittsburgh is looking to take it one step further.  The first 2 games have exemplified their improved defense and “small ball” mentality with timely hitting and excellent base running, backed up by one of the best bullpens in baseball and with a strong top of the rotation, there is little question that the Pirates will vie for the post-season again.  A major question mark is tonight’s starter, Nicasio.  A former starter, Nicasio worked almost exclusively in relief for the Dodgers last year.  He was expected to contribute in that role this season for Pittsburgh.  But a strong spring in which he worked 15 innings, allowing no runs, only 10 hits with 24ks, allowed him to edge out Vogelsong for a spot in the rotation.  With Cole not expected to make his season debut until Saturday, the Pirates call on Nicasio for this start.  But, it’s a long way from spring training to the regular season.  My opinion is that he is not to be trusted.  

His mound opponent tonight is veteran, Mike Leake, who started 30 games last season for Cincinnati and San Francisco.  In those starts, Leake posted a 3.70 ERA.  Leake is well familiar with the Pirates, having pitched in this division for many years.  In 24 starts, Leake is 8-3 vs. the Bucs with a 3.01 ERA.  He has not lost to the Pirates in his previous 17 starts, while winning 7 consecutive decisions.  

We will take the better of it on the mound with Leake over Nicasio, while playing St. Louis to avoid the 3-game rivalry sweep with the knowledge that the Cardinals are an MLB best 133-82/loss the last 3+ years.  I invite you to put the MLB odds in your favor and join me in my MLB pick on St. Louis tonight.

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Free MLB Pick: Cardinals +106
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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