Sunday's Underdog Betting Value in Pirates vs. Rockies

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, July 27, 2014 3:38 PM UTC

Sunday, Jul. 27, 2014 3:38 PM UTC

If the Pirates want to take the very winnable NL Central or grab a wild-card spot for the second straight season, they need to beat up on bad teams like the Rockies. Pittsburgh is a -121 favorite on MLB odds for Sunday's series finale at Coors Field.

Steer Clear Of Rockies
Entering Saturday, the Rockies have just eight wins since June 15 -- when they were 34-35 -- and don't look for things to get better anytime soon. Three of the team's best hitters, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, first baseman Justin Morneau (.312, 13 HRs, 60 RBIs) and outfielder Michael Cuddyer (.317, 5 HRs, 16 RBIs), are all on the disabled list. So are pitchers Jhoulys Chacin, Jordan Lyles and Tyler Chatwood. The latter needs Tommy John surgery. Chacin may not be back this season, while Lyles is on track to return on Aug. 4.

It's not surprise Tulo landed on the DL because he annually does. He still leads the National League by far with a .340 average and is among the home run leaders with 21, but this injury and Colorado's plummet to the bottom of the NL West is going to cost him a shot at the NL MVP, for which he was a favorite for the first few months of the season (currently +600 third-favorite at sportsbooks). The Rockies probably could have gotten something in trade for Cuddyer but it's doubtful anyone offers much of value now that he won't return from his fractured left shoulder until mid-August. The Rockies are shopping starter Jorge De La Rosa and outfielder Drew Stubbs, among others, so things might only get worse.


Pirates Are Buyers
While the Rockies are free-falling, Pittsburgh is making a move. The Pirates are three games behind first-place Milwaukee in the NL Central entering Saturday and a half game out of the NL's second wild-card spot. The Pirates are +400 third-favorites to win the division. Most reports you here are that Pittsburgh is targeting a starting pitcher before Thursday's trade deadline. The name usually mentioned is bringing back A.J. Burnett, who is now with the floundering Phillies. Last year the pitching carried the team but this season it's generally been the offense, led by NL MVP favorite Andrew McCutchen (+150 at sportsbooks). Of course he won the award last year.

Pittsburgh will be without left fielder Starling Marte for this game and perhaps a few more. He hasn't played since July 21 due to a concussion and is on the seven-day list. Marte is hitting .255 with five home runs, 34 RBIs and 21 steals.


Probable Pitchers
Right-hander Edinson Volquez takes the bump for Pittsburgh. Volquez was a reclamation project pickup this offseason for the Pirates after he had been terrible last season with the Dodgers and Padres and frankly not very good since 2008 in Cincinnati. That was his first season with the Reds and he was a key piece they got in a trade for Josh Hamilton to Texas. Volquez (8-7, 3.86) has been about as good as Pittsburgh could have hoped for. He had been excellent over his previous four starts, allowing just a total of three runs and winning them all. However, Volquez might have been a bit out of rhythm when he took the mound with 10 days rest Monday as the Dodgers knocked him around for 10 hits and five runs in 5.2 innings.

Volquez hasn't faced Colorado this year and is 3-2 with a 3.57 ERA on the road in seven starts. He was blasted by the Rockies last season, going 0-5 with a 12.43 ERA in six starts, allowing a whopping 49 hits and 35 earned runs in 25.1 innings. Rockies batters hit .398 off him. Volquez was 0-3 with a 13.50 ERA at Coors Field in four starts. Carlos Gonzalez, one of the few Rockies regulars left, is 10-for-19 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs career off Volquez. Wilin Rosario is a .400 hitter with two homers and nine RBIs in 20 at-bats against him.

Left-hander Franklin Morales, who is very available on the trade market, goes for the Rockies. Morales (5-5, 5.21) has been in and out of the rotation a bit this year. He has been pretty solid this month, going 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts to potentially raise his value. Morales is 3-2 with a 4.28 ERA in 12 appearances (seven starts) at Coors Field in 2014. Right-handed hitters destroy him, batting .305 with 15 home runs. Only a handful of Pirates have ever faced Morales. Catcher Russell Martin has by far the most, going 3-for-8 with a home run and three RBIs.

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MLB Free Picks 
Rockies +111 and 'under' 10.5 runs. See all that stuff I said above? Forget it. Yes, go against the Rockies all the time on the road and even in some home games against decent pitchers. But you can't ignore Volquez's numbers in Coors last year. Some guys just can't pitch in the thin air. The 'under' is 4-0 in Morales' past four at home.

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