MLB Picks: Expect High Scoring Contest In Pirates vs. Cardinals

Jay Pryce

Sunday, June 12, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

Sunday, Jun. 12, 2016 12:00 PM UTC

The Cardinals look for their first three-game series sweep in Pittsburgh in nearly seven years, as Mike Leake and Jonathon Niese matchup this afternoon. Get your free MLB pick here.

St. Louis Cardinals (34-28) – Mike Leake (4-4, 4.22 ERA)
The St. Louis Cardinals' 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates last night behind Carlos Martinez's near complete game gave the visitors their sixth victory in the last seven games. Manager Mike Matheny calls on veteran right-hander Mike Leake to get the job done this afternoon. Leake is 7-1 in his last 16 starts at PNC Park, and hopes to give last season's 100-game winners their first three-game series sweep in Pittsburgh since 2009.

In his career, Leake is 8-4 versus the Pirates in 25 starts, most coming in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. He's held manager Clint Hurdle's current roster to a .265 batting average. Shortstop Jordy Mercer and third baseman David Freese has hit the sinkerballer best, going 6 for 19 and 9 for 19 respectively.

Opening at +115 MLB Odds, Leake has pitched well when commanding the hill as an underdog, yielding 12 earned runs off 29 hits in 35 frames over five games; twice his relief loss the lead, and the game. Although just 2-3 on the season in this spot, he has gifted one run and left three other lineups blank through the first five innings in four of the efforts.

If there is one demon Leake has struggled with in his career, it is the longball. This season he is gifting them again, allowing at least one in eight of his last 10 outings. The Pirates are 11-5 SU and the Over 12-4 when slapping at least one homer in Pittsburgh this season. Leake has managed to do well keeping the ball inside the fences at PNC Park throughout his career, though, allowing four total in 14 lifetime appearances.

The Cardinals' 5.52 runs per game are second most in MLB behind the Boston Red Sox. In 10 road tests against left-handed starters, they've crossed the plate five or more times in seven of them.


Pittsburgh Pirates (32-30) – Jonathon Niese (6-2, 3.93 ERA)
The Pirates loss last night made it three defeats in a row at PNC Park, and four overall. Former New York Mets southpaw Jonathon Niese is tasked with helping to break the skid this afternoon. Pittsburgh has dropped four in a row at home just once since late in the 2012 season, or roughly its last 290 appearances.

Niese has allowed only four earned runs in his last four games on 21 hits in 25 innings pitched. He's 4-3 lifetime with a 3.45 ERA against the Cards in 10 starts. Niese baffles big-hitting outfielder Matt Holiday, allowing just three hits in 22 plate appearances. Third baseman Matt Carpenter, second baseman Jedd Gyorko, and shortstop Jhonny Peralta have dinged the left-hander for a combined .429 average (15 for 35), however.

The Pirates are just 2-8 SU at home versus teams averaging more runs per game then them, losing by a 3.3 margin per contest. They are 15-6 SU when scoring more than their opponent on the season.


Final Analysis
Pittsburgh is 15-5 SU in their last 20 versus the Cards at PNC Park when its starter owns a smaller ERA than the opponent does, returning nearly 40 percent profit to backers. In his carerr, Niese and his relief, however, allow 5.1 runs per game to teams averaging more than 4.5 runs on the season, and he'll likely need a lot of run support to pull off the victory today.

He may get it, too. The Over is 40-16-2 in the Pirates last 58 games with a total greater than 8 runs, and we'll jump on the trend with two of MLB's best at scoring, slugging it out against middle-of-the-rotation guys. Over 8.5 is the free MLB Pick.

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Free MLB Pick:  Over 8.5 +100
Best Line Offered:  at Bookmaker

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