MLB Picks: Cardinals vs. Pirates

Jeff Grant

Monday, April 15, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

Monday, Apr. 15, 2013 4:00 AM GMT

The Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals experienced much different results in closing out series against other NL Central foes Sunday, as they get set to face each other for the first time during the 2013 season.


Let’s take a closer look at the MLB betting odds for this divisional matchup at PNC Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Shaky bullpen

St. Louis was in position to finish off a three-game sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers Sunday, but its bullpen allowed four runs in the final three frames of a 4-3 extra-inning loss as -155 home favorites.

The Cardinals bullpen has compiled a 0-3 record and ranks last in the majors with a 6.09 ERA, with opposing hitters batting .278 against it. 

Don’t call it a comeback

Pittsburgh earned its first sweep over Cincinnati since the 2010 campaign in improbable fashion, as it came back from an early 5-0 deficit to capture a 10-7 decision as +141 home underdogs Sunday.

The Pirates combined to score 19 runs against the Reds in the three games, but their .203 batting average still ranks dead last in baseball through 12 contests. 

Lynn thrives against division rivals

MLB handicappers are going to have a hard time not backing the Cardinals as one of their sports picks Monday night, as they’ve gone 15 of Lance Lynn’s last 16 starts versus NL Central opponents.

Lynn (1-0, 4.50 ERA) earned a 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds as a -115 home favorite last Tuesday, as he allowed just a single run and four hits over six frames, while issuing a single walk and striking out 10 batters.

The right-hander has compiled a 2-1 record and 4.44 ERA in six career appearances (four starts) versus the Pirates, including a 1-0 mark and 1.74 ERA at this ballpark.

McDonald is a dangerous home underdog

Pirates starting pitcher James McDonald (1-1, 3.75 ERA) has led the club to four wins in his last five outings as a home underdog, as he comes off a 6-5 victory over the Arizona Cardinals as a +130 road underdogs last Tuesday.

The right-hander was 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA in 14 home starts a season ago, with opposing hitters batting just .199 against him.  He was handed a discouraging 3-2 loss in his first outing at PNC Park despite surrendering just a single run over seven frames on April 4.

[gameodds]3/224845/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Pirates as one of their MLB picks Monday, as McDonald tossed 13 scoreless innings in winning both of his outings against the Cardinals in 2012, while they also own a significant early-season advantage in terms of the bullpen.

MLB Pick:  Pittsburgh Pirates +109 at BetOnline

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