MLB Picks: Betting The Giants vs Pirates Four Game Series

Ross Benjamin

Monday, June 20, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

Monday, Jun. 20, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

After trailing early in Pittsburgh, the Giants rallied for the win in Game 3 on Wednesday. Now the Pirates are slight favorites on the MLB odds to bounce back in the series finale.


23rd June
Giants vs. Pirates Game 4

By: Willie Bee



That ringing noise you're hearing? It just might be the death knell for the 2-16 Pittsburgh Pirates after they blew an early lead in Wednesday's 7-6 loss to the San Francisco Giants. Up 6-1 after three innings, the Pirates slowly saw their advantage in the game slip away, San Francisco's 3-run sixth putting Pittsburgh away for the second consecutive day.

The Pirates will try and at least salvage a split in Thursday's matinee to close the long set. First pitch is 12:35 PM (ET) and will be delivered by Pittsburgh lefty Jonathan Niese, the Giants countering with Albert Suarez. Thanks to a tailspin that has seen them drop 12 of their last 14 games, the Pirates are barely clinging to the role of favorites on the MLB odds, the game very, very close to a pick 'em at most sports books. BetOnline is listing an 8½ run favorite that leans to the 'under,' though other sites favor the 'over.'



Both Hurlers Allow 3 HR In Last Starts
Under normal conditions, Suarez wouldn't get this much respect against the Pirates. But then, their slide to 4-games below .500 and 14 back in the NL Central race isn't normal. Suarez is making just his fourth major league start, and a good bet to not go past the fifth inning or 80 pitches, whichever comes first. He didn't make it through the fifth last Saturday in Tampa, surrendering three homers to the Rays though the Giants did rally for the eventual victory.

Niese also served up three home runs pitches his last time out, bringing the total to five in his two most recent assignments that covered less than 11 innings combined. The 29 year old has run hot-&-cold on the mound at PNC Park, at times untouchable and looking more like he's throwing BP in other appearances. Niese owns some impressive stats against the Giants in recent years, pitching to a 2.34 ERA the last seven times he has started against them, with Brandon Crawford (5-12, 1 HR) and Buster Posey (8-25, 1 HR) having the most success.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Manny Gonzalez completes one full circuit of Crew F on your umpire lineup card, the least experienced of the quartet with 144 regular season plate assignments and a 7-4-1 O/U/P record vs. the baseball odds this season. The Venezuelan is coming off an 'under' winner that stopped a string of four consecutive 'overs,' totals running 8-11 runs during his last five games behind the dish. The Pirates are 5-3 when he calls balls and strikes here, totals running 2-6 O/U.

Rain could be a factor in today's tilt with a 30%-50% chance of afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast. I think there's a better chance the Giants make it three straight and will play it that way for my free MLB pick.

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Free MLB pick: Giants +101 
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle
Season: 32-28 (+5.35)



22nd June
Giants vs. Pirates Game 3

By: Willie Bee



Just one night after being whitewashed in the series opener, the San Francisco Giants exploded for 15 runs to even the series in Pittsburgh against the Pirates. Angel Pagan's grand slam accented a 7-run fourth for the Giants and the Pirates never found an arm to stop San Francisco's lineup until inserting reserve catcher Erik Kratz on the mound in the final frame.

With a pitchers duel and a slugfest covering the first two matches of the series, we'll see what's in store tonight (7:05 PM ET) when the clubs reconvene for Game 3. MLB odds for the affair suggest we should expect a tight battle that finds Jeff Samardzija on the mound for Dan Fran opposite Pittsburgh's Francisco Liriano. The Giants are listed as -110 chalk on the morning moneyline, and BetOnline is carrying an 8 run total priced evenly high and low.

Liriano 4-1 Vs. Giants In Pirates Jersey
Samardzija's fine showing so far in 2016 gets lost a little bit behind the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto in the same rotation. The big righty has directed the Giants to nine wins in his 14 assignments, five of those victories coming in nine road starts. He bounced back from a couple of rough outings away from home with a real beauty last Friday in Tampa, going the distance with a 4-hitter in the 5-1 win over the Rays, and his last four starts at PNC have resulted in a 1.61 ERA and 27 K's in 28 innings.

Liriano's biggest bugaboo in 2016 has been control, the southpaw issuing 46 free passes in just over 73 frames. He has walked 16 in his last four starts, all losses on both his and the Pirates' ledgers. The Dominican has had some good success against the Giants since joining the Pirates, winning four of his five starts against them while pitching to a 3.07 ERA.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Jim Reynolds will have the plate on Wednesday, bringing a string of three consecutive 'unders' into the contest to run his season record to 5-7 O/U vs. the baseball odds. The top trend for the 18-year veteran has been on visiting teams who have won nine of his 12, 4-0 when favored. The Pirates won both of his games behind the dish last season, each of those contests going 'over' the marks.

A chance for rain increases as the evening wears on, but nothing to really worry about with a muggy 80º at first pitch and a light SW breeze (right to left). This is a fair price on San Francisco against a pitcher in a deep funk; my free MLB pick is on the NL West leaders.

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Free MLB pick: Giants -110
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
Season: 31-28 (+4.35)


21st June
Giants vs. Pirates Game 2

By: Willie Bee



It's not easy to end a 5-game losing streak against a pitcher like San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, but the Pittsburgh Pirates somehow found a way in their series opener on Monday. Now we get to see if they can do it two games in a row when the Pirates face yet another ace in the San Francisco deck Tuesday night.

The MLB odds certainly don't like their chances, but then, the odds were not in their favor for the first matchup of this long 4-game set. Johnny Cueto is up next for the Giants who are priced in the mid-150s on the moneyline after opening as high as -180. A late pitching change has Pittsburgh sending Wilfredo Boscan to the mound for his first MLB starting assignment, Pinnacle offering an 8 run total that is carrying a -110 charge for the 'under.'

It's not as if Pittsburgh beat up on Bumgarner Monday evening, the southpaw checking the Pirates on five hits while striking out eight. One of those hits, however, was Erik Kratz's first homer in 22 months, a fly ball left-fielder Angel Pagan almost reeled in which would have made for two web gems in the game along with a play by one of the Pittsburgh ball girls. Jeff Locke and three relievers made that solo home run stand up as the Bucs ended their second 5-game skid in the last two weeks all while stopping San Francisco's 8-game win streak.


Nicasio A Scratch Due To Family Problems
The first meeting between the clubs this season is also the second year in a row the Giants and Pirates have met for a 4-game series at PNC Park. Pittsburgh took three of four last year, three of the four ending up winners for 'under' bettors as well, and the Pirates have taken home the cheese in five of the last six games played on this diamond. San Fran's last series win here was five years ago in 2011 when the G-Men took two of three from Iron City.

They have the best arm possible on the mound tonight to bounce back from Monday's disappointment. The Giants are a perfect 7-0 in Cueto's road starts, his only away assignment that wasn't a quality start coming in Cincinnati against his former club. He hasn't allowed more than two runs in a start since, and has made a habit of beating the Pirates over the years, going 18-4 with a 2.13 ERA in 28 starts. Cueto is 3-0 in his last five appearances at PNC, fashioning a nifty 1.53 ERA while holding the Bucs to a collective .182 batting average.

Juan Nicasio was originally in line to make this start, but was granted leave for a personal matter which necessitated Boscan being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis. Since signing with the Rangers as a 17 year old back in 2006, the righthander had been a career minor leaguer before finally getting his first taste of the bigs earlier this season for the Pirates. Boscan made five relief appearances for Pittsburgh in May and early June, but has been used as a starter at Indianapolis where he owns a 3.33 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in nearly 49 innings.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
If you're looking for trends when Fieldin Culbreth, tonight's ump behind the plate, works a game, you're not going to find any with his 6-6 O/U record on totals. He has been a boon for home teams, 10-2 vs. the baseball odds in 2016 though the Pirates have split his last six appearances back of the dish at PNC.

There is a slight chance of a shower popping up in the Pittsburgh area today, but nothing that will interfere with the game. Look for the thermometer to still be in the low-80s at first pitch with a light 6-10 mph westerly breeze (out to left).

I thought the moneyline would be higher than it is presently on Cueto, that opening -180 price in the general vicinity of my expectations. So, getting him and the Giants for about 25¢ less seems like a fair price. But I'm going to play the total for me free MLB pick, and take a stab at the 'under' on Tuesday.

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Free MLB Pick: Under 8 -115
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline
Season: 31-27 (+5.45)


20th June
Giants vs. Pirates Game 1

By: Ross Benjamin



San Francisco (Bumgarner) vs Pirates (Locke)
The Pirates and Giants open a four game series at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Monday. This will be the first meeting of the season between these clubs. Pittsburgh has gone 10-4 versus San Francisco during the past two seasons, and that includes 5-3 at home. Current MLB Odds indicate that San Francisco is -191 on the money line and the total is 8.0 at most sportsbooks. The Giants are also -115 on the run line.


Starting Pitching Mismatch
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner gets the start for Monday’s series opener. The Giants are 10-0 in their last ten games this year with Bumgarner as their starter. The southpaw has been a major contributor to that success, evidenced by his exceptional 1.39 ERA during those outings. Bumgarner is a perfect 17-0 in his team starts since 2015 when there’s a posted total is 7.0 or 7.5. He’s also a superb 24-3 during his team starts in away games when San Francisco is -100 or more on the money line since 2015.

The same types of accolades can’t be bestowed upon Jeff Locke of Pittsburgh. Locke has posted a lofty 5.92 ERA this year during his thirteen starts. He’s been brutal in his last two outings, posting a massive 18.69 ERA and 2.77 WHIP. Locke has made three career starts versus San Francisco, including one apiece during each of the past three seasons. The southpaw hurler had a horrible 9.42 ERA and 2.02 WHIP in those appearances.


Red-Hot Giants
San Francisco is coming off a three game sweep at Tampa Bay this past weekend, and they’re now riding a current 8 game winning streak. The Giants are also a stellar 22-13 (.629) in away games this year. When sportsbooks install the Giants as a large money line favorite this year, they’ve been pretty much spot on. San Francisco is 19-3 in 2016 when they’re a -150 or greater money line road favorite, and possess a sizable +3.0 run per game differential in those outings. The NL West leading Giants enter this week with a 44-26 (.629) record, and have a 6.5 game lead over second place Los Angeles.


Pirates in a Freefall
Pittsburgh has hit a gargantuan road block of late. They’re coming off a 10-5 loss at Wrigley Field last night which marked their fifth consecutive loss in addition to its tenth defeat in its last eleven games. They now find themselves 15.0 games behind Chicago in the NL Central standings, and their season record has fallen to 33-36 (.478).


Final Take and Pick
I’m just going to use common sense and keep things simple. It’s a foregone conclusion with all things being considered that tonight’s game has all the earmarks of an absolute blowout. I’m not going to deviate from that mindset when making one of my Monday MLB Picks.

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Free MLB Pick:  Giants -1.5 -115
Best Line Offered:  at Bookmaker

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