MLB Picks: Phillies vs. Pirates Series Blog

Darin Zank

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 12:42 PM GMT

Pittsburgh tries to continue its winning ways as it welcomes its Keystone State rival, the Philadelphia Phillies. Follow our three-day series coverage.

Pittsburgh got this series to even Wednesday night with a 6-5 victory, getting a big three-run homer from Pedro Alvarez in the fifth inning to take the lead for good. Starter Jeff Locke went 5 2/3 innings to bump his record to 8-1, although the Pirates had to sweat the last out in the ninth, after closer Jason Grilli gave up a two-run homer to Domonic Brown that got Philly to within a run.  

We recommended Pittsburgh Wednesday morning when the price was around -150; but after getting steamed all day the Pirates eventually went off as a heavy -200 favorite.

These in-state rivals will play a series rubber match Thursday afternoon (1:35 pm ET). 

Thursday's Betting Lines 

As of Thursday morning most baseball betting outlets were listing Pittsburgh and rookie righty Gerrit Cole at around -140 over Philly and Cole Hamels, with the total set at 7.5. 

Thursday's Pitching Match-Up 

Cole (4-0, 3.70), by our tough standards, is 2-for-4 on quality starts for his short ML career, but he's yet to allow more than three runs in a game and Pittsburgh has won all four of his starts. Last time out he gave up three runs in six innings against Milwaukee, and just before that he held the Angels to two runs in 6 1/3 innings. 

For the season, which for Cole started June 11, he's allowed 26 hits in 24 1/3 innings, walked four and struck out 11. 

This will be Cole's first-ever appearance vs. Philly. 

Down at  AAA Indianapolis this Spring Cole, who's a two-time first-round draft choice, was 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA. 

Hamels (2-11, 4.58) is 10-for-17 on quality starts this year, but he and the Phillies have very little to show for that. Last time out Hamels gave up four runs in six innings vs. San Diego, but in rare case this season of run support Philly won that game 7-5. Over his last two starts Hamels has allowed eight ER in 12 innings, but in his three starts previous to that he had given up six runs in 20 innings. 

For the season Hamels has allowed 105 hits in 106 innings, walked 33 and struck out 99. 

But thanks in large part to some lousy run support the Phillies have won just three of Hamels' 17 starts this year, losing games by scores of 2-1, 4-3, 2-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 4-3. 

In his one start earlier this season vs. Pittsburgh, Hamels gave up just two runs through eight innings, but Philly lost that game 2-0 back on April 23. 

Phillies-Pirates Betting Trends 

Pittsburgh is 9-8 vs. left-handed starters this year, while Philly is 32-34 vs. right-handers.

Our Take on Thursday's Game

Cole has pitched well, but he's also had some help, as the Pirates have scored 29 runs in his four starts. Hamels, meanwhile, would probably kill for that kind of run support. Despite their personal numbers we grade this pitching match-up as very Cole-ose. And even though Ryan Howard is questionable for today's game, we see some value in the Phillies. So, we'll go with Philadelphia for our free MLB pick for Thursday. 

[gameodds]3/238020/?r-1=43-349-192/us[/gameodds]

Pick: Take Philly at the +120 offered at BET365

 

3rd July
Wednesday's Game

By: Ron Patrick

 

Philly took the opener of this series Tuesday night 3-1, getting five-plus good innings from Jon Pettibone and 3 1/3 shutout innings from a contingent of six relievers.

The Phillies beat us Tuesday as +135 underdogs on the MLB betting lines, and the game stayed UNDER its total of 8.5.

Pittsburgh was originally going to throw Jeff Locke Tuesday night, but instead went with rookie Brandon Cumpton, giving Locke an extra day rest. And Cumpton did OK, throwing five scoreless innings before finding a little trouble in the sixth.

Locke will now throw Wednesday night (our take on him appears in Tuesday's post) at 7 p.m. ET, as the Pirates will try to even up this series.

Wednesday's Phillies-Pirates Betting Odds

As of Wednesday morning, most baseball books were listing Pittsburgh and Locke at around -150 over Philly and John Lannan, with an OVER/UNDER of 8.5.

Wednesday's Pitching Match-Up

For more MLB inside information, check out our Daily Pitching Report!

Lannan (1-2, 4.83) is 3-for-6 on quality starts this season, and is coming off a very good outing in which he held the Dodgers to one run and five hits through seven innings of that 16-1 Phillies victory last Friday.

Over his three starts since coming off the DL a couple weeks ago Lannan has allowed seven ER through 17 innings. For the season he's given up 35 hits in 31 2/3 innings, walked seven and struck out 16.

Philly is 4-2 in Lannan's starts this season.

This will be Lannan's first start against Pittsburgh since July of 2011, when he was with Washington.

As we mentioned above, some of Locke's accomplishments are outlined in Tuesday's game preview. But here's what catches our attention; over his last four starts he's allowed a total of three ER, and in his only start this year vs. Philly he held them scoreless on two hits through six innings.

[gameodds]3/237970/?r-1=349-43-192/us[/gameodds]

Our Take on Wednesday's Game

As we mentioned in Tuesday's preview Locke is on a roll, as are the Pirates. But one thing concerns us; while Pittsburgh is 20 games above .500 overall, it's only 8-8 vs. left-handed pitchers this season. Nonetheless, in expecting the Pirates to even this series, we'll go with them for our free MLB pick for Wednesday.

MLB Pick: Take Pittsburgh at the -149 offered at BetOnline.

Remember to check back for updates, including fresh pitching match-ups, odds and more free sports picks, as this series plays out.

 

2nd July
Tuesday Series Opener

By: Ron Patrick

 

The Pittsburgh Pirates, the team that hasn't posted a winning record in 20 years, owns the best record in baseball heading into July. Should bettors jump on the streak and back the Bucs? Or is there value in taking the underdog Phillies for your baseball picks? Join us as we follow this three-game series at PNC Park, which starts tonight at 7 PM ET.

Tuesday's Phillies-Pirates Betting Odds

As of Tuesday morning, MLB odds were listing Pittsburgh with lefty Jeff Locke at around -165 over Philly and rookie righty Jon Pettibone, with an OVER/UNDER of 7.5 runs.

There is a chance, though, of a pitching change for the Pirates, after Locke was forced to warm up late in a long game against Milwaukee Sunday.

Also, The Greek was chalking the Pirates at -210 to win this series, with Philly getting +170.

Phillies-Pirates Series Set-Up

Pittsburgh just extended its winning streak to nine games by sweeping a three-game set from Milwaukee over the weekend, taking Sunday's series finale 2-1 in 14 innings.

Despite playing lately with three-fifths of their starting rotation on the DL Pirates pitching has held nine of its last 11 opponents to three runs or less.

At 51-30 the Buck-os lead the NL Central by two games over second-place St. Louis.

Philly, meanwhile, just dropped three of four games to the Dodgers in Los Angeles over the weekend, losing Sunday's series finale 6-1. So the Phillies are 3-4 on their current road trip.

In losing seven of its last 12 games Philly has been held to three runs or less six times.

At 39-44 the Phillies sit in third place in the NL East, 9.5 games behind first-place Atlanta.

This is the second meeting this season between these longtime rivals; in the first encounter the Pirates took three of four games in Philly back in April.

Tuesday's Pitching Match-Up

For more MLB inside information, check out our Daily Pitching Report!

Locke (7-1, 2.06) is 8-for-16 on quality starts this season, and three for his last three. Most recently he held the Mariners to two runs through seven innings, and over his last four starts he's allowed just three earned runs through 26 2/3 innings.

Seven times this season Locke has pitched at least into the sixth inning and left without allowing a run.

For the season, Locke has given up just 66 hits in 96 1/3 innings, and struck out 67, but he's also walked 41, which so far has been about his only flaw.

The Pirates have won nine of Locke's 16 outings this year.

In his one start earlier this year vs. the Phillies Locke threw six innings of two-hit, shutout ball in a 2-0 Pittsburgh win back on April 23.

If the Pirates choose to sit Locke for one more day, they'd probably go with either Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.76) or Charlie Morton (1-1, 2.50); so far this season Pittsburgh is a combined 11-1 in games those two have started.

Pettibone (3-3, 4.17), by our strict standards, is only 5-for-13 on quality starts this season, and just one for his last four. Last time out he allowed three runs in six innings vs. the Dodgers, and over his last four starts he's allowed 14 ER in 20 1/3 innings.

For the season, Pettibone has given up 81 hits in 73 1/3 innings, walked 23 and struck out 43.

Philly won six of Pettibone's first seven starts this year, but has lost four of his last six.

In his only career start vs. Pittsburgh, in his ML debut back on April 22, Pettibone held the Pirates to two runs on two solo homers through 5 1/3 innings of a 3-2 Phillies victory.

In the match-up between bullpens for this series, Pittsburgh ranks fourth in the Majors with a 2.87 ERA and has converted 32 of 40 save opportunities, while Philly ranks 29th with a 4.60 ERA and has blown 10 of 26 save opps.

Phillies-Pirates Betting Trends

Pittsburgh is 28-13 at home this season.

Philly is 20-26 on the road.

The OVER/UNDERS are 16-24 in games played at PNC Park this season.

[gameodds]3/237893/?r-1=349-43-192/us[/gameodds]

Our Take on Tuesday's Game

Locke has been hot lately, and the Pirates own a solid edge in the bullpen match-up. The only problem for us for Tuesday's game is the price, which seems a bit steep. So we'll gamble a little and go with Pittsburgh, regardless of who starts on the mound, on the run line for our free MLB pick for Tuesday.

MLB Pick: Take the Pirates at the -1.5 +125 run line offered at William Hill

We'll keep an eye on this series and provide updated pitching match-ups and more free picks, as it plays out.