MLB Odds: Back Corbin & Venomous Diamonbacks In Series Opener vs. Pirates

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, April 21, 2016 5:04 PM GMT

The scuffling Pirates continue their West Coast tripat Arizona starting tonight in their only visit of the season. Dbacks are -124 on BetOnline MLB odds for Game 1 with a total of 8.5 runs.

What You Need To Know
Pittsburgh opened the season with four straight wins, including a three-game sweep against reigning NL Central winner St. Louis. But the only series the Pirates have won since then was against terrible Milwaukee.

There's really little excuse for dropping a series in San Diego, which Pittsburgh did Thursday night. Arizona, meanwhile, dropped its first three series of the year but then took two of three in San Diego and followed that with a very impressive series win in San Francisco to open this week. This will be Arizona's first home game since April 10. The Diamondbacks are just 2-5 at home.

The Pirates were 5-1 against the Diamondbacks last season and swept three games at Chase Field. It was Pittsburgh's first-ever sweep in the desert. The Pirates' leading hitter against Arizona last year was Pedro Alvarez at .412 in 17 at-bats along with a homer and seven RBIs.

But he's in Baltimore now. Neil Walker hit .381 vs. Arizona in 2015 but is now with the Mets. Starling Marte was 9-for-28 with three doubles and a homer. Star Andrew McCutchen hit only .238 against Arizona pitching with four strikeouts.

Gregory Polanco was 6-for-29 with two doubles. Diamondbacks superstar Paul Goldschmidt hit .143 against Pittsburgh last year. David Peralta was at .133.

The only Arizona player with a homer in the six games last year was Jake Lamb and that was his lone hit in 11 at-bats. Overall, Diamondbacks hitters batted .202 against Pirates pitching with 47 strikeouts in 213 at-bats.

Probable Pitchers
It's a pair of lefties on the mound. For Pittsburgh, Jonathan Niese gets the call. He was arguably the low-budget Pirates' big offseason acquisition (not saying much), coming over from the New York Mets for Walker.

Pittsburgh has to be pleased thus far as Niese is 2-0 with a 3.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He was pretty shaky his first two starts but got plenty of run support. Last time out, Niese shut out the Brewers on three hits over seven innings.

Niese used 96 pitches to retire 21 batters, and 14 of those outs came via ground balls. That was the first time this season a Pirates starter went seven innings. If you happen to watch this game, it probably will go fast. Niese works as quickly as any starter in the majors. The fielders behind him love that.

Niese is 3-3 with a 5.93 ERA in seven career starts against the Diamondbacks and 1-2 with 6.26 ERA at Chase Field. Last year, he allowed three runs over six innings there in a defeat. Niese did strike out a season-high eight batters.

He's not much of a strikeout guy normally. Goldschmidt is 3-for-11 career off Niese with a homer and three RBIs. Yasmany Tomas is 3-for-6 with two doubles. Jean Segura has two singles and an RBI in 10 at-bats. Arizona is 2-5 on MLB odds in its past seven against lefty starters.

Arizona's Patrick Corbin (1-1, 2.75) is looking like the excellent pitcher he was before Tommy John surgery that cost him all of the 2014  season and a chunk of last year. Corbin was hit around a bit in his lone home start thus far in 2016, allowing four runs and eight hits (three homers) over seven innings vs. Colorado.

But he has allowed just two earned runs combined over his past two starts, coming at the Padres and Dodgers. Corbin threw 105 pitches on Sunday against San Diego, his first time topping 100 since that surgery. Corbin didn't face Pittsburgh last season. Just a few Pirates have batted against him in a regular-season game.

McCutchen is 1-for-1 with two RBIs. Marte is 1-for-2. Francisco Cervelli is 0-for-3. The Pirates are 5-2 on MLB picks in their past seven road games against left-handers. 

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Free MLB Pick: Take Arizona, go 'under.' Corbin has been Arizona's most consistent starter, plus Pittsburgh won't get to Phoenix until the middle of the night after playing a late game in San Diego on Thursday. The Diamondbacks are 8-2 in Corbin's past 10 starts in Game 1 of a series. The 'under' is 7-1 in his past eight outings at home.
Best Line Offer: at BetOnline