This should be a fun series to watch; but how can we profit with our MLB picks in each game?
Thursday's Game Three
By: Ron Patrick
Pittsburgh evened this series at a game apiece with a 5-1 victory Wednesday night, getting homers from Pedro Alvarez and Garrett Jones and a complete-game four-hitter from starter Francisco Liriano.
The Pirates won as +115 post-time dogs on the MLB betting line, and the game played UNDER its total of 6.5.
Pittsburgh now leads this season series eight games to four.
St. Louis is now 12-19 this year against left-handed starting pitchers.
So these two teams get to play a rubber match Thursday afternoon (1:45 pm ET).
Thursday's Betting Line
In the early betting most books were listing St. Louis and Lance Lynn at around -125 over Pittsburgh and AJ Burnett, with the total proffered at seven.
Thursday's Pitching Match-Up
Lynn (13-6, 3.79), by our tough standards, is 14-for-24 on quality starts this year, and three for his last four. Last time out he gave up three ER in 6 2/3, walking five, vs. the Cubs, but in his three starts previous to that he had allowed four ER and just 12 hits in 21 innings, with 24 strikeouts.
On the season Lynn has given up 127 hits in 149 2/3 innings, walked 57 and whiffed 145.
St. Louis has won 15 of Lynn's 24 starts this year.
In three starts previously this season vs. Pittsburgh Lynn has allowed six ER and 12 hits in 18 innings; the Cardinals won two of those three games.
Burnett (5-8, 2.95) is 11-for-21 on quality starts this season, and three for his last four. He's coming off a rough outing in which Colorado got him for five ER in 5 2/3 innings last Saturday, but in his three starts previous to that he had allowed three ER in 23 innings, with five walks and 23 strikeouts.
For the season Burnett has given up 114 hits in 134 1/3 innings, walked 51 and whiffed 149.
But in part due to some poor run support Pittsburgh has only won nine of Burnett's 21 starts this year.
Burnett has already started three times this year against St. Louis, and he's been tough on the Cards, allowing just three ER and nine hits, with six walks and 23 strikeouts, over 20 innings. The Pirates won all three of those games.
St. Louis might get a boost with the potential return to the lineup of C Yadier Molina, who's missed recent action with a sore knee.
Our Take on Thursday's Game
Pittsburgh won Wednesday night, and should have won this series opener Tuesday night, if not for that dropped fly ball by Pirates OF Sterling Marte. But we digress. As for Thursday’s game Burnett has been downright nasty to St. Louis this year, and Lynn hasn't been too bad against the Bucs. This is a tough one; we're not sure who's going to win this game. So instead, we'll look toward the total for our free MLB pick for today, and go with the UNDER.
Pick: Take the UNDER seven runs at the -103 offered at MatchBook.
Wednesday's Game Two
By: Ron Patrick
Read Wednesday's Baseball Betting Odds & Lines Report for that early edge in today's games!
St. Louis won the opener of this series Tuesday night 4-3, rallying from down 3-0 (with help from a dropped fly ball by Pittsburgh's Starling Marte) to force extra innings, then scoring the winning run on an Adron Chambers' base hit in the bottom of the 14th.
The Cardinals escaped with a victory as -170 favorites on Tuesday's MLB betting lines, and the game PUSHED on its total of seven.
So St. Louis can get to within a game of first place in the NL Central when the teams meet for Game 2 of this series Wednesday night (8:15 pm ET, ESPN).
Wednesday's Betting Odds
In the early betting odds, most sportsbooks were listing St. Louis and Shelby Miller at around -120 over Pittsburgh and Francisco Liriano, with a run total of seven.
Wednesday's Pitching Match-Up
Miller (11-7, 2.89) is having a fine rookie season for St. Louis, but he got a scare his last time out last Wednesday when he took a line drive to the elbow off the bat of the Dodgers' Carl Crawford on his second pitch of the game, and had to leave. The x-rays showed nothing, so he'll make the start tonight.
So far, Miller is -by our strict standards- 9-for-22 on quality starts, but part of that low ratio is because he's pitched less than six innings 10 times. However, he's also allowed more than three ER just three times.
During the season, Miller has given up 103 hits in 121 1/3 innings, walked 35 and struck out 132.
The Cardinals are 14-8 in Miller's starts this year. In his two starts this year versus Pittsburgh, Miller allowed five runs and 13 hits in 11 2/3 innings, with four walks and 13 strikeouts (St. Louis lost both those games).
Liriano (12-3, 2.83), after going 6-12 with an ERA north of five last year, is clicking for Pittsburgh this year. However, he's coming off a terrible outing in which he got bombed for 10 runs in less than three innings last Friday by Colorado. On the season he's 11-for-17 on quality starts, has allowed 88 hits in 105 innings and owns a 107/44 K/BB ratio.
In his three starts previous to the loss to the Rockies, Liriano had given up just one run and eight hits through 21 2/3 innings, although he also walked 10 over that span.
Pittsburgh is 12-5 in Liriano's starts this season. In his one start earlier this year versus St. Louis, Liriano held them to one run and four hits in seven innings, walking two and whiffing eight, in a 9-2 Pirates victory back on July 29.
St. Louis slugger Matt Holliday tweaked an ankle Tuesday night and is questionable for Wednesday.
Our Take on Wednesday's Game
We were looking good on our Pittsburgh play Tuesday night, at a very nice price, until Marte dropped that fly ball in the ninth. What a way to lose a bet. As for Wednesday's game, one thing sticks out at us: while St. Louis is 18 games above .500 overall, it's just 12-18 vs. left-handed starters. So we'll take another shot with the Pirates for today's free sports picks.
Tuesday's Series Opener
By: Ron Patrick
After their four losses in five games last week, the Cards will try to return the favor this week when they host the Pirates for a three-game National League Central showdown series at Busch Stadium, starting Tuesday night (8:15 pm ET).
Tuesday's Betting Lines
In the early betting most baseball betting outlets were listing St. Louis and Adam Wainwright at around -185 over Pittsburgh and Charlie Morton, with a total of 7.5.
Also, The Greek was listing the Cardinals at -185 to win this series, with the Pirates getting +165.
Pirates-Cardinals Series Set-Up
St. Louis just dropped two of three games at home to the Cubs over the weekend, avoiding the sweep with an 8-4 victory Sunday. The Cardinals have now lost 13 of their last 18 games.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, just got swept three games in Colorado over the weekend, losing Sunday's series finale 3-2. But that came on the heels of a five-game winning streak.
So heading into this series Pittsburgh, at 70-47, leads the National League Central by three games over 67-50 St. Louis.
The Pirates also trail Atlanta by one game in the battle for the best record in the National League, while the Cardinals lead Cincinnati by a game and a half in the battle for the top NL wild-card spot.
Pittsburgh leads this season series seven games to three. And seven of those 10 games have played OVER on the totals.
Check out our Tuesday Morning MLB Odds & Betting Lines Report.
Tuesday's Pitching Match-Up
Wainwright (13-7, 2.66) is 17-for-24 on quality starts this year, and three for his last four. Most recently he gave up three runs in seven innings vs. the Dodgers last Monday, and over his last four starts he's allowed 12 ER in 29 innings.
Wainwright has been a horse this year; he's gone at least seven innings in all but five of his starts, and he's held foes to three or fewer earned runs in all but five of his outings.
For the season Wainwright has given up 163 hits in 175 2/3 innings, walked just 21 and struck out 156.
St. Louis had won 15 of Wainwright's first 21 starts this season, but has lost his last three outings, although that can't really be blamed on him.
In his one start this season vs. Pittsburgh Wainwright gave up four runs in seven innings of a 5-4 Cardinals defeat two weeks ago.
Morton (4-3, 3.88), meanwhile, is only 2-for-10 on quality starts this season, in part because he's only pitched six full innings five times. But he's also allowed more than three earned runs just twice. Last time out he held Miami to two runs through seven innings, although just before that St. Louis got him for five runs in six innings.
On the season, which for Morton started in mid-June, he's allowed 60 hits in 55 2/3 innings, walked 12 and struck out 43.
He's also been a bit of a good-luck charm for the Pirates, who are 7-3 in his starts this year.
In his one start this season vs. the Cardinals, though, as mentioned above, he got nicked for five runs and 10 hits in six innings of a 13-0 Pittsburgh loss Aug. 1.
As far as the bullpens for this series are concerned the Pirates rank third in the Majors with a 2.80 ERA and have converted 41 of 51 save opportunities, while St. Louis ranks 21st with a 3.88 ERA and is 33-for-47 on save opps.
Pirates-Cardinals With the Sticks
Pittsburgh ranks 18th in the Majors with a .313 team OBP, 23rd in scoring at 3.9 runs per game and 20th in homers with 108.
St. Louis ranks third in OBP at .335, third in scoring at 4.9 RPG but only 27th in homers with 93 and dead last in stolen bases with 29.
Pirates-Cardinals Betting Trends
St. Louis is 34-22 at home this season.
Pittsburgh is a respectable 29-27 on the road.
The OVER/UNDERS are 26-29 in games played at Busch Stadium this season.
Pirates-Cardinals Injury Update
St. Louis OF Carlos Beltran fouled a ball off his foot Sunday, and is questionable for Tuesday. The Cardinals are already playing without C Yadier Molina, who's on the DL with a sore knee. St. Louis is 5-8 since Molina went down.
Over in the other dugout Pittsburgh is missing closer Jason Grilli, who's on the DL with a strained forearm. And OF Starling Marte, who owns a .343 OBP and has stolen 33 bases, hurt his hand over the weekend and is questionable for Tuesday.
Our Take on Tuesday's Game
This is a very tough game for us to handicap. Wainwright owns the advantage in the pitching match-up, but Pittsburgh has actually hit him hard the last two seasons (15 ER in 19 innings). And while the Pirates have had success with Morton, he's been hit rather hard by St. Louis his last couple times out against them (10 ER in 10 1/3 innings). The Cardinals own the edge with the bats, but Pittsburgh's bullpen is great. And while the Pirates lead the season series, St. Louis is out for revenge. On top of all that we're not sure if Beltran and/or Marte are going to play. In a case like this we usually go with the better price so we'll take Pittsburgh for our free sports pick for Tuesday.MLB Pick: Take the Pirates at the +178 offered at 5Dimes.