Pittsburgh is only 4-6 to begin the season, but three of those wins have come against Milwaukee and in checking out the betting odds for today, the Pirates are favored to take yet another one.
Do the Pirates have what it takes wrap of the series and go for the home sweep tomorrow or can the moribund Milwaukee offense get untracked and even this series up and be thought of as an inviting MLB Picks for Saturday night in the Steel City? Time to break down all the elements and formulate a conclusion.
Brewers Offense has Milwaukee Fans Crying in their Beer
Last April Milwaukee was the talk of baseball in posting a 20-8 record and was in first place until the later stages of August. This season, the Brew Crew is upside down at 2-8 (-7 units) and unless they start to play better, veteran Brewers broadcaster Bob Uecker might have to resort to his Harry Doyle character from the – Major League- movies.
Milwaukee is averaging 2.6 runs a game and you do not have to be a sports picks savant to understand that will not win many games. The Brewers have only hit three home runs all season, the lowest figure in baseball, and none have come from Ryan Braun, Khris Davis or Aramis Ramirez. If the Crew does not post more runs tonight, this will be their worst beginning to a season since 2006.
Pittsburgh after Offensive Stability
After being shutout three times in five games, the underachieving Pirates offense came to life last night and tallied six runs in the 6-3 victory. Pittsburgh has been like many teams with losing records, either ringing up a half dozen or more runs or barely scratching out one or two and in their case even worse.
Manager Clint Hurdle is not a big juggler of the lineup card, he tends to let his best players find a way to figure out their own problems and only after 30 or more games start moving certain players up or down. This gives players like Andrew McCuthen (.212 BA) and Starling Marte (.152) the confidence to keep working, knowing their skipper has their back.
Hurdle also realizes these individuals are in the prime of their careers, thus having a 10-game slump to start a season can be overcome with a blistering week and he believes this will happen sooner than later.
Pitching Matchup – Lohse vs Locke
Kyle Lohse has gotten off to a miserable start at 0-2 along with a ginormous 11.17 ERA. The right-hander has allowed 18 hits and a dozen runs in just under 10 innings of work (9 2/3). Even his manager has understands what he’s seen, but is optimistic he will settle in.
"His command's not as sharp. But he’ll get it," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke told MLB’s official website. "The last couple (starts) weren’t good, but this is getting closer to where we need him to be. At times he made some great pitches." Though the 36-year old Lohse is 11-4 with a 3.81 ERA in 24 career games (23 starts) against the Pittsburgh, he has a 7.56 ERA in his last three outings at PNC Park, however, two of those resulted in Brewers victories.
Jeff Locke was scheduled to start last night and was scratched and moved to today. The Pirates starter in his past four starts against Milwaukee he has allowed seven total runs in pitching 26 innings (at least six in each start). The left-hander had a 2.97 ERA over his final 10 home outings of 2014. Locke hides the ball well in his windup and relies a great deal on his changeup. MLB baseball handicappers can easily identify when Locke is off his game when he elevates his fastball, which can be blistered.
Khris Davis is 6 for 14 against the Pirates this season. However, Davis, Ramirez and Jean Segura are a combined 7 for 49 against Locke.
Andrew McCutchen is 4 for 10 against Lohse with a pair of homers and a double since the start of last season.
Starling Marte is 2 for 15 with six strikeouts in his previous four games, but did have two hits last night.
Odds and Outcome
Sportsbooks MLB odds have Pittsburgh as a -140 favorite with the total at 7.5 and they have held steady since the release last evening.
With the success Locke has enjoyed against Milwaukee and the current state where they are really scuffling to score runs, I have to lend my support to the Pirates to emerge victorious with the Brewers 26-47 after scoring three runs or less in two straight games the last three seasons.
MLB Free Pick – Pittsburgh wins