Side with Pirates vs. Cardinals in Low Scoring Matchup: Free MLB Picks

Darin Zank

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 3:25 PM GMT

Wednesday, Sep. 30, 2015 3:25 PM GMT

St. Louis is one win away from clinching the NL Central, but second-place Pittsburgh gets a chance to make up two games in one day Wednesday. Which way are we going for our free MLB picks?

Cardinals Pirates Wednesday Game 2 Odds
As of this writing the MLB odds market was holding off on lining today's Pittsburgh/St. Louis double-header, as it dealt with an overnight pitching change. It looks like the Pirates will throw Gerrit Cole in Game 1 and Charlie Morton in Game 2, while the Cardinals will counter with Michael Wacha and Tyler Lyons. We'll preview and pick Game 2 here.

 

The Situation
These teams are playing a double-header Wednesday; Game 1 is a make-up from Tuesday's rain-out.

St. Louis took the opener of this series Monday night 3-0, breaking a scoreless tie with three runs in the top of the ninth. So the Cardinals' magic number to clinch the NL Central title now sits at two; in other words, they just need one more victory in this series.

Both teams are already in the playoffs. But while it doesn't look as if Pittsburgh will catch and pass St. Louis in the divisional race, the Pirates still lead the Cubbies by three games in the battle to host the National League wild-card play-in game.

The Cardinals lead this season series nine games to eight, with the totals splitting 8-8-1.

 

Game Two Mound Match-Up
Morton (9-8, 4.54), by our strict standards, is only 10-for-22 on quality starts this season, and 0 for his last two. Last Wednesday he gave up six runs and 10 hits through 4 1/3 innings at Colorado, and just before that he gave up five runs and nine hits through four innings against the Cubs.

Still, Pittsburgh is 14-8 in Morton's starts this year, with the UNDERS going 11-9.

In his one start this season against St. Louis, three weeks ago, Morton allowed two runs – just one earned – through six innings, although the Pirates lost that game 4-1.

Lyons (2-1, 3.96) will be making his first start in four weeks, having since been serving out of the bullpen. On the season, by our tough standards, Lyons is 0-for-seven on quality starts, allowing at least three runs six times, while going at least six inning just once. In his last start, back on Sept. 2, he gave up three runs through six innings against Washington, all three of those runs coming on solo homers. Since then Lyons has allowed three ER through 7 2/3 innings of relief, most recently holding Milwaukee to one run through 3 2/3 innings, striking out five, last Friday.

The Cardinals are 3-4 in Lyons starts this year, with the totals splitting 3-3.

In his one start this year against Pittsburgh Lyons allowed three runs – two earned – through five innings of a 4-3 St. Louis loss back in May.

 

Game 2 Batting Splits
St. Louis ranks third in the Majors against right-handed pitching with a .328 team on-base percentage, and 11th with a .412 team slugging percentage.

Pittsburgh, meanwhile, ranks fifth against righties with a .326 team OBP but only 20th with a .400 team slugging percentage.

 

Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at PNC Park this season are 37-35 on the OVERS, even though they're averaging only 7.7 runs per.

 

Cards vs. Pirates Game 2 Free Picks
We're calling each of our key handicapping factors for this match-up a wash; we just believe Pittsburgh wants this one a little more. If the Pirates win Game 1 today, they'll want Game 2, too, because a sweep would get them within two games of St. Louis in the divisional race. And even if the Cardinals clinch the division with a win in Game 1, Pittsburgh wants, at the very least, to host that wild-card game. So we'll add the Pirates to today's MLB picks. Also, as we mentioned in our preview of Monday's game, both these bullpens rank among the very best in baseball, so we're thinking UNDER.

MLB Picks: Pittsburgh and UNDER  ( Game 2 ) at Bovada

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