MLB Picks: Cash In On All-Lefty Pitching In Pirates vs. Diamondbacks Finale

Matthew Jordan

Saturday, April 23, 2016 4:00 PM UTC

Saturday, Apr. 23, 2016 4:00 PM UTC

Barring a pitching change or something unforeseen, Sunday's matchup in the desert between Pittsburgh and Arizona is the only game to feature two lefty starting pitchers. The Pirates are -120 MLB odds.

What You Need To Know
Keep in mind that this is a matinee after a night game so that's often when managers will give a regular or two or three a rest (but available to pinch-hit). Pittsburgh plays in Colorado on Monday to open a four-game series so I can almost guarantee you a couple of Pirates regulars thus get this game off because it's hard enough on your body playing in that thin air. Arizona hasn't had a day off since April 11 and also plays Monday but at least at home against the St. Louis Cardinals.

These teams entered the season in fairly similar positions in one regard: hoping to overtake a big-spending goliath in their respective divisions. The Pirates have  made the playoffs the past three years but always as a wild-card team because the Cardinals always finished ahead of them in the NL Central. Now it's the Cubs, they of the $169 million or so payroll, who are heavy division favorites. Pittsburgh is +600 on MLB odds to win the Central.

The LA Dodgers are three-time NL West champions and have the highest payroll in baseball at around $250 million. The Diamondbacks, looking for their first playoff berth since 2011, were very active this offseason but have to be very concerned about pitcher Shelby Miller. He cost the Snakes a fortune in a trade with Atlanta but Miller is 0-1 with an 8.59 ERA and hasn't lasted longer than two innings in his past two outings after struggling big time Thursday in San Francisco. He has allowed 14 runs and walked 11 batters while giving up five home runs in 14 2/3 innings on the season. Arizona is going nowhere if Miller doesn't fix his issues. The Diamondbacks are +650 on MLB picks to win the division.


Probable Pitchers
It's southpaw Francisco Liriano (1-1, 4.11) for Pittsburgh. His starts have gotten progressively worse since throwing six shutout innings on Opening Day in St. Louis. Liriano is 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA on the road this season after allowing four runs and six hits, two homers, in 4.1 innings Tuesday in San Diego. Liriano walked five and has walked a way-too-many 14 in 15.1 innings this season. It's possible he's not 100 percent as Liriano's previous start before facing the Padres was skipped due to a tight hamstring. He said the hamstring wasn't an issue vs. San Diego, that he was rushing his delivery.

Liriano has pitched well in three starts at Chase Field in his career, going 1-0 with a 1.96 ERA. Arizona star Paul Goldschmidt is 1-for-4 career off him with an RBI. Welington Castillo is 4-for-15 with a homer and seven strikeouts. Jean Segura is 5-for-19 off him. Yasmany Tomas and Chris Owings are both 0-for-6.

Arizona's Robbie Ray (1-0, 1.96) had his third straight quality start to open the season on Tuesday, shutting out the Giants on five hits over six innings in San Francisco, striking out eight and walking two. Ray has allowed only 13 hits in 18.1 innings this season without giving up a homer.

When he puts the entire mix together, Ray "excites us", Arizona manager Chip Hale said after that start. "It gives us a chance to have a really, really good club with him in the five hole."

Ray can have some control issues too with 11 walks. Ray faced the Pirates once last season, Aug. 19 In Pittsburgh. He allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out five and walking two in a loss. Starling Marte is 1-for-5 career off him with a walk. Gregory Polanco is 1-for-5 with a double and RBI. Jordy Mercer has ah hit in three at-bats off him. So does Francisco Cervelli. And don't rule out Liriano getting a hit off his counterpart. Over his last 16 starts, Liriano is hitting a whopping .361 (13-for-36) with three doubles, a home run and 10 RBIs.

Love the 'under' here. Take Arizona at home. The Diamondbacks are 4-1 in Ray's past five at home. The 'under' is 9-3 in Pittsburgh's past 12 vs. a lefty. It is 4-0 in Ray's past four at home. 

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Free MLB Pick:  Pirates Under 9 -115
Best Line Offered:  at Bookmaker

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