Free MLB Picks for Brewers vs. Pirates Game 2

Doug Upstone

Saturday, September 20, 2014 12:11 PM GMT

Saturday's MLB slate offers a National League Central battle between the Milwuakee Brewers and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Find out where the best value lies for our MLB picks.

From April 4 to Aug. 31, the Brewers were in first place in the NL Central. By then September 1st, baseball handicappers and those making sports pick knew something was wrong with Milwaukee.

Since August 26, the Brew Crew has need a parachute in dropping 20 of 28 and sportsbooks have even taken to shading the other teams Milwaukee is playing in order to even the betting odds.

Here is what to look for in Game 2 of this series.

 

 Milwaukee Has Played Like Tired Team
Because the NL Central was not a very good division, Milwaukee was artificially able to overcome some flaws after a 20-8 start to the season. First base was a platoon spot, which is a negative for most playoff caliber teams and while Ryan Braun will catch flak about his drop off being cause by steroids, he’s nursed a bad thumb for quite awhile.

While it was thought to be a strength that manager Ron Roenicke had five average to better than average starting pitchers, that is collectively what they turned out to be, average.

Milwaukee is still mathematically alive, but is running on empty.

 

Lessons Learned Have Made this Pirates Team
As Pittsburgh was finally having success building a farm system that had actual major league talent, they had to take the steps of progression. Among the most important was 2012 season.

After two decades of losing baseball, the Pirates were playing winning baseball and were even in the Wild Card chase as they entered September with a 70-62 record.

However, like many times before, this still youthful Pittsburgh club totally fell apart and ended the season 9-21 from that point, setting up yet another losing season at 79-83.

The fact was Pirates player did not know how to win, especially when it counted and that experience taught them a valuable lesson about believing in themselves.

With last year’s postseason trials, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle did not get rattled when his team was still in fourth place on June 30th, instead he trusted his team and they knew they could play better and they are 41-30 since and likely head back to the playoffs.

 

Pitching Matchup for Saturday
Matt Garza (8-8, 3.74 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) has in recent years talked a better game than how he performed on the field. Once considered a prized possession by Tampa Bay, the right-hander is on his fourth different team since 2011. Garza likes the sound of own voice, but his records this season is in harmony with his career big league results at 75-75. The 30-year usually posts adequate peripheral numbers, but is seldom clutch and spends increasingly more time on the DL like this season.

Among the reasons why Pittsburgh could make another playoff appearance is Edison Volquez (12-7, 3.27, 1.26). The Dominican native has found a comfort zone in Pittsburgh and his win total is already the second highest of his career and in his last eight starts he is 4-0 with a 1.73 ERA. Volquez is 2-1 vs. the Brewers this season.

 

Bullpen View
Many of the Milwaukee bullpen numbers look at least average; however among the reasons for their collapse has been the pen. Despite ranking in the lower third of usage in the NL, the Brewers non-starters are 14th in batting average and home runs allowed and 13th in the league in total bases surrendered.

The Pittsburgh bullpen has the next most blown saves in the senior circuit at 23 and the Pirates are the only team in the NL with at least 20 save giveaways that does not have a losing record. The saving grace for this crew has been is they have minimized the damage by lower home runs and doubles allowed figures. 

 

Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
After a couple years of relative success, it has been the same of old song and dance for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee, with a losing record again this season at 7-11. The Crew has had the better of it at PNC Park also, taking five of eight this year. Also, five of the eight contests have gone 'Over' the numbers versus the betting odds.

MLB odds opened Pittsburgh as a -130 money line choice and early this morning they were up to -135. The total has remained steadfast at Un7.5.

 

The Winner Is….
While the Milwaukee pitching has not been bad of late, the bats are quiet and they are 2-9 after scoring and allowing four runs or less in last three games this season. In addition, Pittsburgh is 16-4 after seven or more consecutive home games. Add these factors together and include the current form of both teams and it is easy to understand why I’m on the Pirates with one of my MLB picks. Always make sure to place your bet at a trustworthy sportsbook such as 5Dimes.

MLB Free Picks: Pittsburgh wins

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