Get ready for a solid analysis of today's matchup in Pittsburgh. MLB odds makers have set the home Pirates as the favorites, but could the Miami Marlins pull the upset?
Miami Marlins (Phelps) vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Morton) 7:05 ET
This is the first of an early week 3-game series in which the Marlins visit the Pirates. Pittsburgh has a solid recent history against Miami with a 12-5 series record, including 8-1 on this field. With the Pirates now playing with positive momentum and Miami on a 3-11 slide, I look for that series history to continue at PNC Park for this 7:05 ET start on Memorial Day.
Moving former GM Dan Jennings onto the field has done little to help the Marlins, who are 2-5 in his tenure. That is part of a 3-11 slide for Miami. A look at the YTD numbers for Phelps might imply he is a value underdog. He was solid in his first 6 outings, but disaster struck in his most recent outing. In a 6-1 loss to Arizona, Phelps lasted 5 innings allowing 4 runs and 5 hits with 3 walks. Until MLB odds underdog Miami proves they can turn things around on the road, I consider them to be a pure PLAY AGAINST material for your MLB picks.
I love to play quality teams who have underperformed but have now flashed a buy sign in recent games. That is especially true of these Pirates, who have pulled to within one game of .500 at 21-22, after their sweep of the Mets. During those 3 weekend victories, the Pirates outscored the Mets 21-4. For much of the season, the Pirates have been underperforming at the plate. Now, the big bats of Harrison and McCutcheon are finally starting to boom leading the resurgence. On the mound tonight will be Charlie Morton. Morton was a mainstay of the Pirate staff each of the last 2 seasons. But offseason hip surgery resulted in a slow spring in his demotion to the minors for several rehab starts. While pitching at AA Altoona and AAA Indianapolis, Morton went 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA. Of equal importance is that he recorded 22 Ks in 20 1/3 IP. Morton has solid history against Miami, as in 4 starts against the Marlins, he is 3-0 with a 2.77 ERA. In addition, Morton's home/road dichotomy is apparent. In 21 home starts the previous 2 seasons, Morton has a 2.59 ERA.
This is a momentum mismatch with both Miami and their starter Phelps in poor current form. A strong history on this field vs. Miami, as well as Morton's history on this mound, complement the Pirate's recent hitting resurgence, make this an outstanding play.
MLB Picks: Take Pittsburgh Pirates at BetOnline