The front-running Brewers were beginning to look like they might run and hide, but their recent play has kept both St. Louis and Pittsburgh right in the picture and if they warm up, they can catch the first place team. Those using their computers to work the MLB odds are watching closely.
It’s Not Hard to be a St. Louis Backer
While many franchises struggle to field winning teams year after year, that is seldom the case with the Cardinals. Since 1960, only twice has St. Louis had back to back losing seasons and not once have they put together a trio of below .500 campaigns.
This has made it awfully easily for those making MLB picks to place their money on St. Louis for decades.
One aspect which has often led to their success was an offense that could bludgeon the opposition.
However, the Redbirds have gotten off to a curious start, averaging just 3.6 runs a contest which made them an unreliable wager thus far. It would seem at some point this offense will shake out of it, but a closer look at the overall roster assembled has been cause for consternation.
Pirates Picking Up Wins
Pittsburgh had gotten off to a near disastrous start of 12-20, but recently their offense has come around for the first time this season and the Pirates have won four straight and six of eight by scoring 5.2 runs a contest.
Up until this point, Pittsburgh was pretty much in the same boat as St. Louis, not being able to score enough runs. Opposing teams have been walking and hardly pitching to Andrew McCutchen with runners on base and trying to force those who hits behind the centerfielder to beat them.
This strategy has worked with different Pirates batters in the No. 4 or No. 5 slots in the batting order ranked 20th or below in on-base percentage in baseball.
If the Bucs are going to continue picking up wins, the entire batting order has to contribute.
Pitching Matchup for Sunday Night
The Cardinals Shelby Miller (4-2, 3.20 ERA) has won four straight decisions, though he has not been incredibly impressive, failing to pitch into the seventh inning. Manager Mike Matheny has not yet Miller air it out either as he’s not eclipsed 100 pitches in a single outing. Walks continue to pester him (23 in 39.1 innings), though he's shown an ability to evade trouble while pitching without sharp command. Where Miller’s conundrum has occurred is spotting the fastball and this will be a top priority if he’s going to beat the Pirates.
Pittsburgh’s Charlie Morton has not enjoyed a victory in a dozen starting chances and is 0-4 this year with a 3.45 ERA. The right-hander pitched well enough to break out of this funk his last time out when he allowed only one unearned run and three in eight innings against San Francisco. Lifetime, Morton is 30-53 in the big leagues and huge reason for such a feeble record is a 2-9 mark versus St. Louis as acknowledged by MLB baseball handicappers.
When reviewing all the St. Louis number is this category, they have numerous positives, yet they have not overly effective. Their ERA of 3.71 places them in the middle in the NL and they have the worst win percentage as a group at 1-7. What has occurred is they have had leads and given them away, partially to elevate their earned run average and in tie games, they have made the one mistake to lose contest.
Pittsburgh’s pen ERA is nearly one full run lower then tonight’s division opponent (2.73), but they have blown nine of 17 save chances, which is last in the NL. Among the culprits, 12 baseballs over the fence, with only three teams worse in the senior circuit.
Head to Head Combat and Betting Odds
For baseball bettors making sports picks, they have to take note of the Pirates winning 11 of the last 14 tilts at PNC Park against St. Louis. Sportsbooks sent Pitt out at -115 and with McCutchen a question mark for a second straight battle, this matchup has dropped to a Pick with a total of 7.5.
Just in case you have forgotten how bad the Bucs have been, this is the first time they will be playing on Sunday night baseball in 18 years.
In spite of all of the Redbirds struggles on offense, they know who to beat Morton; they have the better pitcher in this matchup and find a way to scratch out a victory.
MLB Free Picks: St. Louis wins