Free MLB Picks for Braves vs. Pirates Series Opener

Willie Bee

Monday, August 18, 2014 1:40 PM GMT

Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 1:40 PM GMT

Dead level in the National League standings, the Pirates and Braves begin a 3-game MLB odds series in Pittsburgh on Monday with their playoff hopes possibly on the line.

ESPN's BracketBuster series won't officially begin in college gymnasiums for about six more months. The MLB equivalent of those games is very much in progress on the 2014 baseball betting schedule, this week's collision between the Atlanta Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates solid proof of that.

More than three-quarters of the campaign is in our rearview window as the set begins in Pittsburgh on Monday (7:05 PM ET). Vance Worley and the Pirates opened at -115 according to SBR's live MLB odds, that number now at -120. Ervin Santana is up next in Atlanta's rotation with a 7 run total also attached to the tilt.

Check Out Tonight's MLB Pitching Report Which Covers the Braves vs. Pirates Series Opener!

The Pirates hold the all-time edge vs. the Braves, 1,089-1,015, and have won 611 of the 1,058 games completed in Iron City since the clubs first started tangling with each other in 1887. Atlanta has held its own at PNC Park since the beautiful stadium opened in 2001, winning 23 of the 44 on this diamond.

They last met 14 months ago at Turner Field where the Braves swept the Bucs. The 2013 series in Pittsburgh was a 4-game set, the Pirates taking three of four with each of their victories falling short of the total while Atlanta's lone win hurdled the number.

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Santana Looks To Continue 2nd-Half Dominance
Atlanta (64-60, -6.9 units, 51-64-9 O/U/P) should have some renewed confidence starting this 10-game road trip after sweeping Oakland this past weekend. The Braves completed the broom job with a 4-3 win over the A's in front of ESPN's cameras Sunday night, the victory helping them salvage a 6-4 homestand against playoff contenders (Washington, LA Dodgers, Oakland).

On a pretty good roll since the all-star break as he prepares to face the Pirates for the first time in his career, Santana is seeking his third consecutive win and sixth in his last seven assignments. His lone start that went into Atlanta's loss column in that span was one Santana pitched well enough to win, an Aug. 2 outing in San Diego where he pitched into the seventh allowing only two runs.

The 31-year-old Dominican is coming off a solid effort vs. the Dodgers this past Wednesday, working six frames, striking out nine and surrendering two runs.

 

Bucs Return Home Mired In 5-Game Skid
A quick trip through Detroit and Washington DC proved to be a disaster for Pittsburgh (64-60, -1.1 units, 58-58-8 O/U/P). The Pirates lost all five contests, each of the three vs. the Nats going down as 1-run defeats, and have another short trip to Milwaukee ahead of them this weekend.

Worley got knocked around last Wednesday in Detroit, serving up a pair of gopher balls among the nine hits he allowed the Tigers in his 5.1 innings. The 8-4 setback stopped a 4-start win streak for the Pirates with Worley on the hill, the former Long Beach State star allowing but three earned runs during that 28-inning stretch.

He has seen the Braves seven times -- twice as a reliever -- while pitching for the Twins and Phils, and it was hit or miss for Worley; two of the five starts went well (11 IP, 3 ER) while the other three weren't so good (13.1 IP, 15 ER). Current Atlanta hitters are batting a robust .349 vs. Worley, though it's a small sample (43 AB).

Rain is in the Iron City forecast the next couple of days, but Monday's match should proceed without any trouble. Muggy temps in the low-80s will be present at the start of tonight's clash, a very light NW breeze (3B to RF foul pole) also in the offing.

I'm going to jump on the opposing streaks each club is currently on for my free pick in Game 1, and make a play on Atlanta as small road pups.

MLB Pick: Braves +103 at Bookmaker

Season: 99-105 (-7.20)

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