Baseball Picks: Cardinals at Pirates Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 8/31/2013
The Pittsburgh Pirates are clearly going all-in, and kudos to them for making a trade with the Mets earlier this week for outfielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck. Byrd will vastly upgrade Pittsburgh's right-field production. Before Byrd arrived, the Pirates' nine different right fielders used combined to produce a .232 average this season (last in NL) with 12 homers (13th in NL) and 44 RBI. Byrd promptly hit a three-run homer in his debut against Milwaukee on Wednesday.
Byrd is hitting .284 overall with 22 homers entering Friday. He destroys left-handed pitching, hitting .338 (80 points better than against righties) with a slugging percentage of .585. The Pirates tried to get Byrd before the July 31 deadline but now paid less than they would have then to land him with the Mets holding a fire sale in the wake of Matt Harvey's injury. The Bucs really needed him more with outfielder Starling Marte's injury. He was placed on the DL retroactive to Aug. 19 with a hand injury. Marte was having a very good season, batting .282 with 11 home runs and 35 steals.
Buck will backup Russell Martin behind the plate. Since the beginning of the 2010 season, Buck's 63 home runs as a catcher rank third in the majors. He either usually homers or strikes out. Neither Byrd nor Buck has ever played in the postseason, and they've combined for 22 big-league seasons, so good for them.
The Cards, meanwhile, acquired right-handed reliever John Axford from the Brewers on Friday for a player-to-be-named. Seems like a no-lose trade to help bolster the St. Louis bullpen. Axford is 6-7 this season with a 4.45 ERA and 19 saves in 62 games. He won't be closing in St. Louis but will be a set-up man. Axford hasn't been the same since a brilliant 2011 season when he had 46 saves and a 1.95 ERA.
Cardinals at Pirates Betting Story Lines
St. Louis enters this series having won five straight series, a run that began against these Pirates. The Cards just beat up on two likely playoff teams, the Braves and Reds, but both of those series were at Busch Stadium. Pittsburgh has lost four of five, coming to bad teams San Francisco and Milwaukee, and is just 26-26 since July 1 entering Friday's game. Still, the team should clinch its first winning record since 1992 next week.
The Cardinals start struggling right-hander Lance Lynn (13-8, 4.02) in Saturday's game. St. Louis has won only four of his past 12 starts. He has allowed exactly four earned runs in each of his past three. The first of those was Aug. 15 against Pittsburgh, a 6-5 Cardinals win. The Pirates had eight hits in 5.1 innings off Lynn. He is 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four starts this year against Pittsburgh.
Lynn has Andrew McCutchen's number in their careers, with McCutchen 4-for-23 with eight strikeouts. Fellow All-Star Pedro Alvarez is 4-for-18 with a homer and six RBI off Lynn. Clint Barmes is hitting .285 with a homer and five RBI, meaning he should start over Jordy Mercer. Garrett Jones is hitting .316 off Lynn. All Cardinals pitchers will be glad to see Marte on the DL. He was hitting .333 against them this season with seven extra-base hits and four steals. Byrd has killed St. Louis too, going 5-for-13 with three homers and five RBI in just 13 at-bats.
Pittsburgh counters with ace A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.18), who as you can see doesn't get much run support. However, Burnett has been uneven of late, allowing four runs or more and at least eight hits in three of his past four starts. One of those was that Aug. 15 game against St. Louis in which Burnett lasted only 4.1 innings as all five Cardinal runs came in the bottom of the fifth. That was unusual because Burnett is 2-0 with a 2.96 ERA in four starts vs. the Cards this year, with them hitting only .193 off him. Carlos Beltran is hitting .282 with two homers, 10 RBI and nine strikeouts in 39 career at-bats off Burnett. Matt Holliday is 6-for-21 with a homer and five knocked in. Yadier Molina is 4-for-20 with two RBI.
Cardinals at Pirates MLB Betting Odds and Trends
At BetOnline, the Pirates opened at -124 and the Cardinals +114 with a total of 7.5. All trends entering Friday: St. Louis is 66-63-4 “over/under” (36-29-2 on the road) and 67-66 on the runline. Pittsburgh is 58-70-5 O/U (26-38-3 at home) and 78-55 on the runline.
St. Louis is 2-5 in its past seven Saturday games. The Cards are 5-1 in Lynn's past six road starts against teams with a winning record but 1-5 in his past six on the road overall. The Pirates are 7-1 in their past eight home games against teams with a winning record. They are 0-4 in their past four against righty starters. Pittsburgh is 5-0 in Burnett's past five against teams with a winning record. The over is 5-2 in Lynn's past seven Saturday starts. The over is 5-0-1 in Pittsburgh's past six on Saturday. The over is 4-1 in Burnett's past five against teams with a winning record. The over is 6-1 in Lynn's past seven against Pittsburgh. The under is 4-0 in Burnett's past four home starts against St. Louis.
Baseball Picks: Cardinals at Pirates Betting Predictions
The Pirates lead the season series 8-5, and these two will conclude their regular-season meetings next weekend in St. Louis. I love the Byrd deal but still don't think Pittsburgh has enough offense to do much in the playoffs. And the pitching is now in question with Jeff Locke having been imploded and sent down. Take the Cards in this one and the over.
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