Second-place Pittsburgh looks to continue some recent good play when it hits Beer Town for three games with the Brew Crew at Miller Park starting Friday night (8:10 pm ET).
Pittsburgh got this series to even with a 5-2 victory Saturday night, getting two homers from Pedro Alvarez and single dingers from Andrew McCutchen and Neil Walker to back up another quality start from Jeff Locke.
The Pirates won as +115 underdogs Saturday, and the game played UNDER its total of nine.
So Pittsburgh has won 12 of its last 15 games, while Milwaukee is 5-17 over its last 22, as the teams head into a series rubber match Sunday afternoon at Miller Park (2:10 pm ET).
Sunday's MLB Betting Odds
As of Sunday AM most books were listing Milwaukee and Yovani Gallardo at around -120 over Pittsburgh with lefty Wandy Rodriguez.
Sunday's Pitching Match-Up
Rodriguez (5-2, 3.40), by our tough standards, is four-for-nine on quality starts this season. Last time out he gave up three runs in six innings vs. the Cubs, and over his last three starts he's allowed five runs through 19 innings.
For the season Rodriguez has given up 44 hits in 50 1/3 innings, walked just nine and struck out 37. The Pirates are 7-2 in Wandy's starts this year.
Rodriguez has already started twice against Milwaukee this season; in the first, a month ago also at Miller Park, Rodriguez got nicked for seven runs in less than four innings; but in the second game, 11 days ago in Pittsburgh, he held the Brewers to one run through seven innings.
Last year, in three starts vs. Milwaukee, Rodriguez gave up seven ER and 15 hits through 16 innings.
Milwaukee is a ML-worst 4-16 this season against left-handed starting pitchers.
Gallardo (3-4, 4.50) is only three-for-ten on quality starts this season. Most recently he gave up three run in six innings vs. the Dodgers, and over his last three starts he's allowed eight ER over 16 innings.
For the season Gallardo has given up 64 hits in 58 innings, walked 21 and struck out 43. The Brewers are 4-6 in Gallardo's starts this year.
Gallardo has started twice already this season against Pittsburgh, allowing just three ER and six hits through 13 innings. Gallardo got a win in that first start against the Pirates, but took a tough loss in the second.
Last year Gallardo started three times against Pittsburgh; two of those outings went very well, while the other was a minor disaster. Overall, Gallardo threw 18 1/3 innings vs. the Pirates last year, giving up eight ER and 17 hits.
The OVER/UNDERS are a combined 12-7 in games started by Rodriguez and Gallardo this season.
Our Take on Sunday's Game
Pittsburgh just seems to have much more going for it right now than Milwaukee. So despite Gallardo's good past performances against the Pirates we'll go with the Bucs for our free MLB pick for Sunday.
By: Ron Patrick
Milwaukee took the opener of this series Friday night 2-1, getting a quality start from Marco Estrada, who along with four relievers made a two-run Brewers second inning stand up.
The Brew Crew won as -110 favorites Friday night, and the game played UNDER its total of 7.5 runs.
Neither of these teams has been too offensive lately; the Pirates have scored a total of 14 runs over their last six games, while Milwaukee has scored 12 runs over its last five games.
So Pittsburgh is 2.5 games behind first-place St. Louis in the NL Central as the teams head into Game 2 of this series Saturday afternoon (4:10 pm ET).
Saturday's MLB Betting Odds
As of Saturday AM most baseball betting outlets were listing Milwaukee and Mike Fiers at around -120 over Pittsburgh with Jeff Locke, with the OVER/UNDER lined at 8.5.
Saturday's Pitching Match-Up
Fiers (1-2, 5.93) is back with the big club after spending a month in the Minors. He opened this season with a bad start against Arizona, and has pitched out of the bullpen since. Over his five appearances since coming back to the Brewers Fiers has allowed two runs and five hits, including a pair of solo homers, through 6 1/3 innings.
Last year Fiers started three times against Pittsburgh, giving up 10 ER and 18 hits in 14 2/3 innings. Milwaukee managed to win two of those three games.
Fiers also gave up a game-winning homer to Andrew McCutchen in a 4-3 extra-inning loss to the Pirates last week.
Locke (4-1, 2.73), a lefty, is four-for-nine on quality starts this season, but two for his last three. Most recently Locke held Houston scoreless on three hits through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's allowed four runs through 19 innings.
For the season Locke has given up just 39 hits in 52 2/3 innings, although his K/BB ratio, at 32/22, leaves something to be desired.
Locke has started once this season against Milwaukee, 11 days ago, giving up three runs and seven hits through six innings of that game the Pirates eventually won 4-3.
Our Take on Saturday's Game
The Brewers are 4-15 against left-handed starting pitchers this season, and that's good enough for us. We'll go with Pittsburgh for our free MLB picks for Saturday.
By: Ron Patrick
Where do we think the money sits for the taking on this series?
Pirates-Brewers Betting Lines
Most baseball betting outlets we sampled Friday morning opened Friday's series opener, which matches AJ Burnett against Marco Estrada, at right around a pick 'em, with an OVER/UNDER of eight. Most books then also bumped Milwaukee to around -110.
Also, TheGreek was listing the Brewers at -130 MLB odds to win this series, with Pittsburgh getting +110.
Pirates-Brewers Series Set-Up
Pittsburgh just swept three games at home from the Cubs, taking Thursday's series finale by a score of 4-2. So the Pirates have won 11 of their last 13 games, as their pitching staff has allowed just 31 runs over that span. However, it should be pointed out this recent run has come against the Mets, Brewers, Astros and Cubs.
Thanks to that good pitching, eight of Pittsburgh's last 13 games have played UNDER on the totals.
The Brewers, meanwhile, just dropped two of three games at home to the Dodgers, losing that series rubber match Wednesday 9-2. So Milwaukee, after winning nine games in a row last month, has lost 16 of its last 20, and each of its last four series.
Heading into the weekend the Pirates, at 29-18, are tied for second place in the NL Central, a game and a half behind first-place St. Louis, while the Brewers, at 18-27, are in fourth place, 11.5 games off the pace.
This is the third meeting this season between these two teams. Two weeks ago the Pirates took three of four games from the Brewers at PNC Park, while a couple weeks before that Milwaukee took two of three games at Miller Park.
The totals have split 3-3-1 in this series this season.
Wednesday's Pitching Match-Up
Burnett (3-4, 2.57), by our strict definition, is six-for-ten on quality starts this season, and is working on a string of five in a row. Last time out Burnett held Houston to one run through seven innings, and over his last three starts he's allowed just six ER in 21 innings.
For the season Burnett has given up just 46 hits through 63 innings, walked 23 and struck out 79.
Despite these numbers Pittsburgh has only won four of Burnett's 10 starts, mainly because of poor run support. The Pirates have lost Burnett starts by scores of 3-1, 1-0, 3-2 and 2-1 already this season.
Burnett has one previous start this season against Milwaukee, 11 days ago when he gave up three ER through seven innings of a 5-1 Pittsburgh loss. Last year Burnett started three times against the Brewers, giving up eight ER and 18 hits through 19 2/3 innings. The Pirates managed to lose all three of those games.
Estrada (3-2, 5.44) is only three-for-nine on quality starts this season, and just one for his last four. Most recently he gave up four runs in five-plus innings vs. the Cardinals, and over his last four starts he's been tagged for 18 runs in 21 innings.
For the season Estrada has given up 56 hits, including 11 homers, in 51 1/3 innings. But somehow Milwaukee has won six of Estrada's nine starts.
Estrada has already started twice against Pittsburgh this season; in the first game he gave up five runs in five innings, but in the second game he allowed just one run through seven innings. The Brewers won both those games.
Last year Estrada started three times against the Pirates and was tough, giving up just four ER and 13 hits over 19 2/3 innings. Milwaukee won two of those three games.
The OVER/UNDERS are 2-8 in Burnett's starts this year, 6-3 in Estrada's starts.
Pirates-Brewers Betting Trends
The OVER/UNDERS are a 16-8 in games played at Miller Park this season.
The O/Us are 13-7 in Pirates road games this season.
Our Take on Friday's Game
Burnett has been pitching in some tough luck, both this season overall and recently against the Brewers. Maybe it's time that luck changed. Also, Pittsburgh comes in hot, Milwaukee dead cold. So, we'll add the Pirates to our list of free MLB picks for Friday.
Free Pick: Take Pittsburgh at the +102 offered at Bet 365.