Do you want to know which team will draw first blood in the opener of this large four game series? Take the time to read our enlightening betting preview article which culminates with a money line pick.
Huge NL Central Four Game Series convenes on Thursday
The top two NL Central teams begin a four game series in Pittsburgh tonight when the Cardinals and Pirates clash at 7:05 PM ET. St. Louis heads into today atop the division with a 4.5 game lead over second place Pittsburgh. The Cardinals have won 4 of 6 games from their division rival (Pirates) this season.
The Cardinals will send Carlos Martinez to the mound today, and he’s off to a terrific start this season. Martinez has gone 13-3 in his team starts with a stellar 2.73 ERA. He’s been even better of late, going 8-1 in his last nine team starts with a superb 1.35 ERA. However, there’s a glaring flaw pertaining to Martinez in respect to Thursday’s game. In two career starts since 2014 versus Pittsburgh, Martinez has posted a large 8.74 ERA and 1.85 WHIP.
Southpaw Jeff Locke will receive the starting assignment for Pittsburgh in this series opener. Locke has been sharp in his last five starts evidenced by his excellent 1.55 ERA in those appearances. Locke has made six career starts versus the Cardinals since 2013, and had a respectable 3.82 ERA during that time.
The Cardinals have gone a magnificent 47-19 (.712) when facing right-handed starting pitchers this season. The flip side to that occasion is they’ve been very beatable against southpaw starters, going just 8-11 in those games. St. Louis is coming off a come from behind 6-5 win at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Wednesday night. The Cardinals are a dismal 5-16 on the road since 2014 following a one run win.
The Pirates enter this crucial series having won five in a row and ten of their previous twelve games. After getting off to a slow 17-23 start this season, Pittsburgh has gone a spectacular 33-11 since that time. Today will be their seventh straight home game, and they’ve gone an incredible 31-6 this season following two or more home games in a row. During their current five game win streak, the Pirates are allowing just an average of 1.6 runs per game. Pittsburgh is one of the few teams in baseball that can matchup with the bullpen prowess that’s been displayed by St. Louis in 2015. Pirates relievers have a collective 2.47 ERA this year.
The Cardinals are still very good on the road at 24-19, but are nowhere near as dominant as they’ve been at Busch Stadium where they’ve gone 31-11. This sets up as a nice spot for the money line home underdog, and one of my MLB picks for Thursday will be indicative of that statement. At the time of this writing, Heritage has the most favorable betting value for the home underdog.
MLB Pick: Pittsburgh +103 on the money line at Heritage.