Pittsburgh and St. Louis, both playing some good ball as of late, begin their NL Central season series with the opener of a three-game weekend encounter at Busch Stadium Friday night. The Cardinals are favored to win Game 1, and the series itself; do we agree? Or will we dissent?
Pirates-Cardinals Friday Betting Odds
Most of the MLB odds opened St. Louis and Lance Lynn at right around -140 over Pittsburgh and AJ Burnett, with a total of 7.5 runs. Many books then bumped the Cardinals a nickel or so, to the -145 range.
Also, BetOnline was chalking St. Louis at -160 to win this series, with the Pirates getting +140.
St. Louis just took three of four games from Philadelphia this week, losing the series opener Monday 4-1, but winning Tuesday 11-5, Wednesday 5-2 and Thursday 9-3. Just before that the Cardinals took two of three from the Brewers; and just before that they took two of three from Washington. Stretching back a bit further St. Louis is 12-3 over its last 15 games.
Pittsburgh just dropped two of three games to the Cubs in Chicago this week, losing Monday 4-0 and Tuesday 6-2, then avoiding the sweep with an 8-1 victory Wednesday. The Pirates then had Thursday off.
Just before that the Pirates swept three games out in Arizona; just before that they split four games with the Cubs; and just before that they swept three games from Milwaukee. So Pittsburgh is 9-4 over its last 13 games.
Big-picture, at 15-6 St. Louis leads the NL Central by 2.5 games over the second-place Cubbies, while Pittsburgh, at 12-10, sits in third place, 3.5 games out of first.
This is the first meeting between these divisional rivals this season. Last season, as both teams battled their way into the playoffs, St. Louis took the season series from Pittsburgh 11 games to eight, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS by an 10-7-2 margin.
Lynn is two-for-four on quality starts this season. Last Sunday he got nicked for six runs and 10 hits in five innings of a 6-3 loss to Milwaukee, but prior to that he had allowed just three earned runs through his first three starts. On the season Lynn has given up nine earned runs and 30 base-runners (hits + walks) through 22 1/3 innings. St. Louis is 1-3 in Lynn's starts, with the totals leaning UNDER by a 3-1 margin.
Last year Lynn started four times against Pittsburgh, giving up 11 runs and 39 base-runners through 24 2/3 innings; the Cardinals split those four games, while three of those games played UNDER.
Burnett is three-for-four on quality starts this year, and would be four-for-four if he had just gotten a couple more outs in his season debut against Cincinnati. Last Saturday against Arizona Burnett permitted just one run through seven innings of a 2-1 Pittsburgh victory, and on the season he's allowed just five runs and 31 base-runners through 25 innings. The Pirates are only 1-3 in Burnett's starts so far, but that's not his fault; those three losses came by scores of 3-2, 2-0 and 5-2.
Also, the totals in Burnett's starts have leaned toward the UNDERS by a 3-0-1 margin.
Last year, pitching for Philadelphia, Burnett started once against St. Louis, allowing just one run and seven hits through nine innings of a 5-1 Phillies victory.
In the Pens
The St. Louis bullpen ranks second in the Majors with a 1.59 ERA, with 11 saves in 12 chances, while Pittsburgh's pen ranks seventh in ERA at 2.98 while going six-for-nine on save chances.
Friday's Batting Splits
Pittsburgh owns a .286 team OBP and a .356 team slugging percentage against right-handed pitching this season.
St. Louis owns a .334 OBP and a .428 slugging percentage against righties this year.
Pirates-Cardinals Friday Free Pick
The pitching match-up is tight, and the bullpens are both good, but we expect a bounce-back effort from Lynn, after his poor outing last time out. And St. Louis owns the edge with the sticks. So we like the Cardinals to take tonight's series opener. Also, in thinking it wouldn't take too much to get this game to 5-3, we like the OVER for our MLB picks.
Free MLB Picks: St. Louis -138 at GT Bets and OVER 7.5 runs (+110) at Heritage