MLB Picks: Mets vs. Pirates Series Coverage

Willie Bee

Thursday, June 26, 2014 1:27 PM GMT

Thursday, Jun. 26, 2014 1:27 PM GMT

The Pittsburgh Pirates climbed back over .500 with Thursday's victory vs. the New York Mets, and they're looking for more as MLB odds chalk when the series continues Friday.

 

29th June
Mets vs. Pirates Game 4

By: Willie Bee

 

It was good news-good news for the New York Mets on Saturday.  First, they beat the Pirates 5-3 to salvage at least one win in their 4-game series in Pittsburgh, then they found out All-Star 3B David Wright only had a bruised right rotator cuff and won't need season-ending surgery.

New York will still be missing Wright in Sunday's series finale, a 1:35 PM (ET) matinee at PNC Park, but the Mets do have a chance to get out of Iron City with a split thanks to the Game 3 triumph.  Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole was rusty in his return from the DL, giving up all five New York runs in the first two innings, and the Pirates weren't able to recover from the hole against Jon Niese and a pair of Mets relievers.

Sunday's finale features an All-Dominican battle on the bump where Bartolo Colon meets Edinson Volquez. It's Volquez and the Bucs drawing a chalk line in the -120s while SBR's live baseball odds show a split on the total between 7 and 7.5 runs.


Volquez In Win One, Lose One Rut
Colon is riding a 3-start win streak into Sunday's affair, and the Mets have been victorious in six of his last seven assignments while the beefy righthander pitched to a 1.57 ERA in that span. One of the triumphs was against the Pirates in New York on May 28, Colon tossing 7.1 innings of shutout baseball while striking out a season-high nine.

This will be his third appearance on the mound at PNC Park, one start last season while he was with the A's (7 IP, 1 ER) that resulted in a win and the other a loss way back in 2004 when he wore an Angels jersey (7 IP, 3 ER).

The Pirates have been alternating wins and losses in Volquez's assignments for the past two months. He was outstanding against the Rays in St. Pete on Monday, throwing a season-high 110 pitches while allowing just one run over eight innings. Walks hurt him at Citi Field in late-May when he faced the Mets, a no-decision for Volquez who needed 106 tosses to get through the fifth inning of an eventual 4-2 New York victory.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Scott Barry worked the finale of the Blue Jays-Yankees series earlier this week, his 10th 'under' in 15 plate assignments so far in 2014.  While the low side of totals has been profitable, backing home chalk when Barry is under the mask has been costly for baseball bettors (3-9).

Don't be surprised if a thunderstorm passes over downtown Pittsburgh just as this game is getting started. The weatherman is calling for a 30%-40% chance of rain this afternoon, the thermometer in the low-80s and a 6-10 mph breeze from the south (in from right).

The Pirates are playing pretty well right now, but they seem to be spinning their wheels in the NL Central race and not gaining much ground.  New York isn't going anywhere either, but I still like the Mets enough against Volquez today to make them my free pick.

My Free MLB Pick: Mets +110

Season: 77-76 (+1.55)

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28th June
Mets vs. Pirates Game 3

By: Willie Bee

 

Bonus baseball was what fans in Pittsburgh got Friday night, and partisan Pirates fans went home happy once again with an 11-inning victory over the New York Mets.

Pittsburgh now guns for a third consecutive dubya in the long weekend set when the clubs return to PNC Park for a Saturday matinee (4:05 PM ET). The Bucs bring Gerrit Cole off the DL to make the start, prompting sports books to lay -160 chalk on Pittsburgh to extend New York's skid to four games. Jon Niese goes for the Mets with SBR's live MLB odds showing 7.5 for the total.

Josh Harrison and Pirate pitchers turned in the top performances in Game 2.  Harrison's RBI double with two outs in the 11th plated Clint Barmes with the winning run in the 3-2 decision while Brandon Cumpton and three relievers kept New York hitters at bay.


Cole Comes Off DL To Bolster Bucs Rotation
Niese picked up his first win in a month last Sunday in Miami, getting plenty of offense in New York's 11-5 victory as +110 underdogs.  The Mets had dropped his previous three outings, including a 5-2 decision in St. Louis on June 17 to Michael Wacha and the Cardinals with Niese surrendering all of the Redbirds' runs.

The southpaw wasn't around for the dubya May 27 at home versus the Pirates, but he pitched well enough (5.2 IP, 2 ER) to keep the game close so the Mets could pull off a 4-2 triumph.  Niese has won both of his previous assignments in Pittsburgh, allowing just two runs in nearly 14 innings.

Cole has been on the trainer's table since June 3, resting what Pirates officials called right shoulder fatigue.  He made two simulated starts in the last week or so and should be ready to go for 90-100 pitches.  The former UCLA standout faced the Mets once last year, taking the loss in a 4-2 New York victory (5 IP, 3 ER).


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
We caught one of Toby Basner's plate assignments earlier this week when he called balls and strikes in Game 2 of the Yankees-Blue Jays contest, and it went 'over' just like six of his previous eight.  Saturday will be the Ohio native's first appearance at PNC Park.

Warm and muggy is the weatherman's call for this one, with temps in the upper-80s under a few clouds at first pitch.  There's also a 7-10 mph ESE breeze (in from left-center) to help the hurlers a bit in what already is a pitcher-friendly diamond.

I'm always a bit leery of pitchers in their first big league start off the DL, and today's no different.  My gut just tells me this is a good time to take the underdog with my free baseball pick.

My Free MLB Pick: Mets +145
Season: 76-75 (+1.10)

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27th June
Mets vs. Pirates Game 2

By: Willie Bee

 

Pittsburgh Pirates fans clamored for his promotion to the big league roster the first two months of the 2014 MLB betting schedule. Thursday night, Gregory Polanco proved their wait was well worth it.

Polanco was a 1-man lineup with a homer and four RBI in Pittsburgh's 5-2 triumph over the New York Mets in the series opener, Vance Worley doing the heavy-lifting on the mound with seven innings of 1-run baseball. It was Polanco's first dinger in front of the home fans, and gave him a 7-game hitting streak at PNC Park to begin his career.

The rookie outfielder looks to extend that stretch to eight in the second confrontation of the set, Brandon Cumpton scheduled to deliver the game's first pitch at 7:05 PM (ET) while Jacob deGrom gets the starting nod for New York. Polanco and his pals are priced in the upper-130s on the moneyline at most places tracked by SBR's live MLB odds, an 8 run total also on the board and favoring the 'over' at some windows.


Young Hurlers Square Off For 2nd Time
It took eight starts, but deGrom finally picked up his first major league win with seven shutout innings in Miami last Saturday. The 26-year-old rookie certainly pitched well enough to have earned a dubya before then, but the bottom line is New York sitting 2-6 in his eight assignments, each time as the underdog to leave Mets backers down four units.

Cumpton also has eight starts to his credit this season with the Pirates splitting those outings to sit square against the MLB odds. And like deGrom, the former Georgia Tech star is coming off seven shutout frames, allowing the Cubs just two hits last Sunday at Wrigley Field.

The young hurlers are colliding for the second time this season, neither figuring in the decision May 26 in New York. deGrom left that game with a 2-0 lead in the seventh, only to see his bullpen blow what could've been his first major league victory in the Pirates' 5-3 triumph. Pittsburgh was a -115 road favorite in that contest that just skipped past a 7 run total.


Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Lazaro Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna Diaz calls balls and strikes for this one. Ok, that's not the veteran field arbiter's real name, just what we call him in Texas when he umps an Astros game. Anyway, Laz Diaz has been a friend to lovers and bettors of offense, bringing a 10-3-2 (O/U/P) mark into Game 2, 6-0-2 the last eight.

It's going to be a little cloudier than Friday, but no rain is expected for Friday's matchup. Temps in the low-80s and a light breeze from the east (in from left) should dominate the evening in Iron City.

With Neil Walker now back from the DL, the Bucs have a solid quartet at the top of the order. Pittsburgh looks to me like a team about to get in a good groove, so I'm going that direction with Friday's free MLB pick.


My pick: Pirates -140

Season: 74-75 (-0.90)

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26th June
Mets vs. Pirates Game 1

By: Willie Bee

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates have a great opportunity to prove they're once again playoff contenders when they open a long homestand with a 4-game MLB odds series against the Mets.

It wasn't long ago that mention of a Daisuke Matsuzaka-Vance Worley mound clash might conjure up images of a World Series game between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. That certainly isn't the case Thursday night, however, with neither player part of those teams any longer and the teams they are with not looking like World Series contenders.

Matsuzaka and Worley get the nod for the opener of a 4-game set between the New York Mets and Pittsburgh Pirates, first pitch at lovely PNC Park expected at 7:05 PM (ET). Pittsburgh is drawing a chalk line in the -145 to -150 range, the total inching up from 7.5 to 8 runs according to SBR's live baseball odds.

Both teams are coming off interleague series as they prepare to meet on a diamond for the last time in 2014, unless by some strange set of circumstances the Mets and Pirates each wind up in the National League playoffs. New York took two of three from the Bucs at Citi Field in late-May, two of three in that series also staying 'under' the total.

All three games played in Pittsburgh last year never made it to the scoreboard mark, giving the 'under' on this field a 5-game streak. The Pirates won two of them, but New York has held its own on the new Iron City field, winning 21 of the 41 played at PNC since it opened in 2001. 

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Mets Back On Road After Short Homestand
New York (36-42, -1.4 units, 33-34-11 O/U/P) barely got home this week from one 7-game road trip before having to hit the road for another. The Mets split a quickie 2-game set at Citi Field with the A's the past couple of days, and have a stop in Atlanta next week before a long homestand that will take them to the All-Star break.

Matsuzaka has been primarily pitching in New York's rotation following 14 relief appearances to begin 2014. Four of his five June sightings have been as a starter, the Mets splitting those games after dropping a 3-2 decision behind Dice K in Miami last Friday. The same problem that has plagued Matsuzaka his entire career has once again been an issue this season, too many walks. He's averaging a career-worst 5.9 BB per nine, issuing 31 free passes in 47 frames.

Thursday will be Matsuzaka's first game ever against the Pirates. Only four batters available to Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle for Thursday have seen Matsuzaka before, and they total 17 plate appearances between them, 12 of those by reserve Travis Snider.


Bucs Showing Signs Of Life Off 4-2 Road Trip
The postseason remains a real possibility for Pittsburgh (39-39, -2.0 units, 35-37-6 O/U/P) coming off a 4-2 road trip that has them level on the year and 8-games out in the NL Central. But if the Pirates are going to be players the next few months, they need to take care of business on this 10-game homestand that finds the Diamondbacks and Phillies trailing the Mets into town.

This could very well be Worley's last start for a while as Pittsburgh is expected to reshuffle its rotation during the series.  Gerrit Cole (shoulder) is supposed to come off the DL to make the start Saturday, and Francisco Liriano (oblique) isn't far from a rehab start and return to the Pirates pitching order.

Worley was purchased from the Twins at the end of spring training to provide depth in Pittsburgh's rotation. He was coming off a disastrous 2013 with Minnesota, and made seven starts at Triple-A this year before being called up, posting a 4.30 ERA and strong 43/4 K:BB ratio at Indianapolis. The Mets chewed Worley up when they saw him last year, plating nine (7 earned) in a 1-inning start; he was 3-3 with a 5.16 ERA against New York in seven starts and two relief outings while a member of the Phillies.

Rain shouldn't be an issue for this series, though we'll keep an eye on the SBR doppler just to make sure. Thursday's matchup will be played under clear skies and temps in the upper-60s, low-70s with only a hint of a northerly breeze (out to right).

What is an issue for me Thursday night and the rest of the series is the confusion New York manager Terry Collins has helped create in his own bullpen. Not all of it is his fault, but Collins always seems to have a knack for taking a bad situation and making it worse. I like the Buccos in this one, but will instead ride with the lineups to do just enough to send my free pick 'over'.

MLB Pick: Mets-Pirates Over 8 (-105)

Season: 73-74 (-0.90)

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