MLB Pick: Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates ‘under’ 8½

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, April 18, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

We may be witnessing the next generation of pitching talent on Thursday with several matchups pitting top prospects, including Julio Teheran of the Braves facing the Pirates’ Jeff Locke.

Look for a couple of young bucks to limit the scoring on Thursday night when Julio Teheran and the Atlanta Braves (12-2, 6-0 away) pay a visit to Jeff Locke and the Pittsburgh Pirates (7-7, 5-3 home) in the first game of a four-game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA at 7:05 ET.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 8½ for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at a positive +100.

Thursday night may be an excellent glance at the future generation of pitching talent in baseball, as this contest is just one of several games this evening where two highly regarded pitching prospects are opposing each other.

The Braves of course have specialized in developing pitching for well over a decade now as fine young arms have been the backbone of Atlanta’s success. Well, the Braves are at it again this season as they lead the Major League in team ERA at a fantastic 1.77 in the early going of 2013!

The Atlanta pitching has excelled in all phases, as the starting pitchers have a collective 1.96 ERA and 1.02 WHIP while allowing an opposing batting average of .207 and the bullpen has a cumulative 1.36 ERA and 0.96 WHIP while yielding a .199 batting average Unfortunately, the young Teheran has not been part of that success yet.

The 22-year-old Columbian right-hander was rouged up for five earned runs in five innings by the Chicago Cubs in his first start this year and he then allowed four more runs in the first two innings vs. the Washington Nationals last Friday. It was at that point that he showed why he is one of the top pitching prospects in the Atlanta organization as he showed some nice poise for someone so young by settling down and tossing four scoreless innings after that.

That kept the Braves in the game and allowed them to come back late for the 6-4 victory. Teheran should only benefit from that experience, so look for him to be much stronger at the outset tonight, this time carrying the form he displayed over the last four innings Friday from start to finish.

The Pirates got off to a slow start this year, but Pittsburgh is now 4-1 on this home stand following a 5-0 whitewashing of the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, as the previously struggling A.J. Burnett and three relievers combined to toss a one-hitter vs. the third highest scoring team in the majors!

Tonight the Pirates turn to the 25-year-old southpaw Locke, who was actually drafted by the Braves in the second round in 2006 before coming over to the Pirates in the Nate McLouth trade. Locke has been the best pitcher in the Pittsburgh minor league system for the last couple of years and he got the called up to the majors last September. He even faced the Braves after his recall and limited Atlanta to just one run and two hits in six innings for his first Major League win.

After a mediocre 2013 debut, Locke recorded his second big league win vs. the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday by allowing one run on four hits in five innings. He now gets to face an Atlanta lineup that, despite the Braves being 12-2, is batting only .220 vs. left-handed pitching.

With that in mind, look for both prospects to give fine accounts of themselves and for this game to stay ‘under’ the total on Thursday.

[gameodds]3/225127/238-19-93-92-1096/us[/gameodds]

MLB Pick: Braves, Pirates ‘under’ 8½ (+100)