Wednesday's Game Three
By: Ron Patrick
Pittsburgh got this series to even Tuesday night with a 2-0 victory, getting a quality start from Jeff Locke, an RBI double from newly activated Brandon Inge and three shut-down innings from the bullpen. The Pirates won as +135 dogs on the MLB betting odds, and the game, like Monday's, never threatened its OVER/UNDER of seven.
Going into Tuesday night's start Locke had allowed 27 baserunners (hits + walks) in 15 2/3 innings this season; he then held Philly to two hits and two walks through six innings. But that might say more about the Phillies, who have been held to three runs or fewer in 10 of their last 12 games, than it does about Locke.
Still, we'll be very interested in the potential outcome of Locke's next start, which is slated for Sunday at St. Louis.
So the Pirates have won seven of their last 10 games, while the Phillies have lost six of their last 10, as the teams head into Game 3 of this four-game set Wednesday night (7 pm ET).
Wednesday's MLB Betting Odds
As of Wednesday AM the best price we could find on Philly with Roy Halladay was the -120 offered at several online sportsbooks, including Pinnacle, while Pittsburgh with Wandy Rodriguez could be found at +118 at Bet365.
Wednesday's Pitching Match-Up
Halladay began this season with two lousy performances, allowing 12 runs in just 7 1/3 combined innings vs. the Braves and Mets. But over his last two starts, including a winning effort last Friday against the Cardinals, Doc has allowed just three runs and seven hits through 15 innings.
Last year Halladay started just one game vs. Pittsburgh, but it might have been his best outing of the season; he allowed just two hits and zero runs through eight innings, walking none while striking out five.
Rodriguez opened his 2013 season by blanking the Cubs on two hits through 6 2/3 innings, but his next time out, on April 8, he left in the third inning against the Diamondbacks because of a tight hamstring.
Eleven days later, last Friday against the Braves, Wandy came back and threw seven innings of one-hit ball, walking none and whiffing five.
So on the season Rodriguez has allowed one ER and five hits through 16 innings, and the Pirates have won all three of his starts.
Rodriguez managed to miss Philadelphia all of last season; his most recent start vs. the Phillies came two Aprils ago, when as an Astro he got bombed for seven runs in four innings.
Free MLB Pick for Wednesday
Halladay is coming off back-to-back quality outings, but to be honest we're still a bit leery, after watching him get bombed in his first two starts of this season. Rodriguez, meanwhile, is rocking. And Pittsburgh is an underdog. We'll go with the Pirates for our free MLB picks for Wednesday.MLB Pick: Take the Pirates at the +118 offered at Bet365
Tuesday's Game Two
By: Ron Patrick
Philly took the opener of this series Monday night 3-2, getting a quality start from Jonathan Pettibone (in his ML debut) and 3 2/3 shut-out innings from the bullpen. The Phillies won as +105 home dogs against AJ Burnett, and the game stayed UNDER its total of 8.
So Pittsburgh is 10-9, Philly 9-11 going into the second game of this four-game series Tuesday night (6 pm ET).
Tuesday's Betting Odds
As of Tuesday morning the best price we could find on Philly with Cole Hamels was the -152 offered at Heritage, while the best price available on Pittsburgh with Jeff Locke was the +146 offered at Bet365.
Also, most online sportsbooks were listing the total for Tuesday's game at 7.5.
Tuesday's Pitching Match-Up
Hamels is two-for-four on quality starts this year. He started off this season by getting clipped for 13 runs in 10 2/3 innings vs. the Braves and Royals, but over his last two starts he's allowed just four runs in 13 innings, with 13 strikeouts, against the Marlins and Cardinals.
Still, the Phillies are 0-4 in Hamels' starts so far.
Somehow, Hamels missed the Pirates last season. The last time he started against Pittsburgh Hamels threw eight innings of one-hit ball back in July of 2011.
Fellow lefty Locke is 0-for-three on quality starts this season. First he gave up four runs in six innings vs. the Dodgers; then he held the Reds to one run in five innings, but walked four guys; then, last time out, he couldn't get out of the fifth inning vs. the Braves, allowing four runs and six hits, including three homers, walking four more. So for the season Locke has given up nine runs and 18 hits, walking nine while striking out just six, through 15 2/3 innings.
This will be Locke's first-ever appearance vs. Philly.
Pirates-Phillies Betting Trends
Pittsburgh's last four games have all played UNDER on the totals.
The Pirates, for whatever reason, are now 2-5 in series openers this season.
Free MLB Pick for Tuesday
Hamels is coming off two good starts in a row, while Locke has been lousy. So we'll add Philly to our list of free MLB picks for Tuesday.
Pick: Take the Phillies at the -152 offered at Heritage.
Monday's Series Opener
By: Ron Patrick
Can AJ Burnett extend Pittsburgh's winning streak? Or can Philly with a rookie pitcher making his ML debut stop it, and how might we profit with our MLB picks by wagering on this series?
Monday's MLB Betting Odds
As of early Monday AM we couldn't find a line on Monday's series opener, as most online sportsbooks are apparently trying to do some homework on Philly's Jonathan Pettibone, who will make his ML debut against Pittsburgh with Burnett.
But we did find that the MLB odds board at TheGreek.com was chalking the Phillies at -150 to win this series (based on the first three games), with the Pirates getting +130 as the underdogs.
Pittsburgh just took three of four games from a hot Atlanta team over the weekend. The Pirates dropped that series opener last Thursday, then won the last three games in a row, taking the series with a 4-2 victory Sunday.
So the Pirates, at 10-8, sit in second place in the NL Central, a half-game back of the first-place Reds.
Philly just split four games at home with St. Louis, taking Sunday's series finale 7-3. The Phillies scored eight runs Friday and seven Sunday, but actually they've been having some trouble scoring runs recently. Over its last 10 games Philly has been held to three runs or fewer eight times.
So the Phillies, at 8-11, sit in fourth place in the National League East, 5.5 games behind the division-leading Braves.
Monday's Pitching Match-Up
By our tough standards, Burnett is only one-for-four on quality starts this season, but this is a case where our tough standards are a bit misleading. Burnett opened this season by allowing three ER in 5 2/3 innings vs. the Cubs, walking one and striking out 10, but we don't credit him with a QS because that's a 4.76 ERA; he then held the Dodgers to one run in 5 1/3 innings, but we don't give him a QS because he didn't pitch at least six innings; he then held the Reds to three ER through six innings, but that's a 4.50 ERA.
Last time out, though, Burnett made it easy for us to credit him with a quality start by throwing seven innings of one-hit, shut-out ball vs. the Cardinals, walking none while whiffing eight.
On the season Burnett has allowed just 17 hits through 24 innings, walked eight and struck out an NL-high 35.
Last year Burnett started once vs. Philly, allowing three runs through 6 2/3 innings. But for various reasons that was a very different lineup than the one he'll face Monday night.
Pettibone, a six-foot-six right-hander, has been called up to replace the injured John Lannan in the Phillies rotation.
Last year Pettibone went 13-8 with a 3.10 ERA combined doing time in AA and AAA ball. But this Spring he's struggled in limited action. In one appearance for Philly down in the Grapefruit League he gave up four runs on two homers in just two innings, and in two starts for AAA Lehigh Valley he got nicked for 10 ER in nine innings.
Obviously this guy has his whole career, however it turns out, ahead of him, but as bettors concentrating on Monday night's game we're definitely leery.
Pirates-Phillies Recent History
Last year Pittsburgh took the season series from Philly four games to three, with the totals going 4-2-1.
Free MLB Pick for Monday
The Pirates come in hot, having won three straight over Atlanta, while the Phillies still seem to be struggling a bit. And Pittsburgh has its ace going, against a rook making his first-ever ML start.
So we'll add the Pirates to our free picks for the Monday matchup.
Baseball bettors should check back at these pages for updates and more free picks as this series plays out.