Pittsburgh missed a chance to gain ground on division-leading St. Louis Thursday night but they are favored on Friday's MLB Odds with their ace, Gerrit Cole, on the mound.
Cards-Pirates Friday Betting Odds
As of early Friday morning the best price we could find on Pittsburgh and Gerrit Cole was the -129 offered at Pinnacle, while St. Louis and Lance Lynn were getting +123 at JustBet. And every book we sampled was listing a total of 6.5 runs on tonight's game, with most of the grease leaning toward the UNDER.
St. Louis grabbed Game 1 of this series Thursday night 4-1. Pittsburgh had a chance to score first, with runners on second and third with none out in the fourth, but Pedro Alvarez lined into a 1-5 double play. The Cardinals then promptly scored four runs in the top of the fifth, just one of which was earned, thanks to a Jordy Mercer error.
So the Cards have won five of their last seven games, while the loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Pittsburgh.
At 56-30 St. Louis owns the best record in baseball, and a 5.5 game lead over second-place Pittsburgh in the NL Central. But at 50-35 the Pirates also lead the National League wild-card race.
The Cardinals lead this season series five games to two, with the UNDERS going 5-2.
Friday's Pitching Match-Up
Cole (12-3, 2.28) is 14-for-17 on quality starts this season, and 10 for his last 11. Last Sunday he held Cleveland to three runs through eight innings, retiring the final 16 batters he faced, while just before that he limited Detroit, one of the best lineups in baseball, to two runs through 6 2/3 innings. On the season Cole has allowed 97 hits through 110 innings, walked 26 and struck out 113. Pittsburgh is 13-4 in Cole's starts, with the totals leaning toward the UNDERS by a 9-6 margin.
Cole started four times against St. Louis last year, allowing 10 runs in 26 1/3 innings (3.41 ERA); the Pirates split those four games, as did the totals.
Lynn (6-4, 2.53) is 10-for-15 on quality starts, and one inning away from a streak of six in a row. Last Sunday he held San Diego to one unearned run through seven innings, and over his last six starts he's allowed just five earned runs through 37 2/3 innings. For the season Lynn has allowed 83 hits in 92 innings, walked 31 and whiffed 97. The Cardinals are 9-6 in Lynn's starts, with the totals skewing UNDER by a 12-3 margin.
Since the beginning of last season Lynn has started five times against Pittsburgh, giving up 12 runs in 31 2/3 innings (3.41 ERA); the Cardinals won three of those games, and four of those games played UNDER.
Friday's Batting Splits
St. Louis ranks as one of the best lineups in baseball against right-handed pitching this season with a .268 team batting average and a .328 team on-base percentage. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, ranks in the middle against righties, with a .257 average and a .317 OBP.
Ballpark Totals Factor
Games played at PNC Park this season are 24-18 on the UNDERS, averaging 6.9 runs per, fifth-least among all ML ballparks.
St. Louis OF Matt Holliday has missed the last month with a strained quad, but he's eligible to come off the DL today. Whether he'll play, or be effective, is uncertain.
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, is already without Josh Harrison, who's on the DL with a bad thumb, and Starling Marte has missed recent action with a strained oblique, and is doubtful for this series.
Cards-Pirates Friday Free Picks
For a game that looks like it should be lined closer than it is we like the value with the underdog. Also, both these bullpens rank in the top five in all of baseball, so we're thinking UNDER.
MLB Picks: St. Louis +123 at JustBet and UNDER 6.5 runs (-110) at 5Dimes