Who: St. Louis Cardinals v. Pittsburgh Pirates
When: Friday July 14th, 2017 7:05PM EST
Where: PNC Park—Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Pirates and Cardinals, NL Central division rivals, will kick off the second half of MLB’s season in Pittsburgh on Friday. When the two teams meet at PNC Park, they will be entering the game in eerily similar positions. The Pirates are 4th in the division, an even seven games out, while the Cardinals are in second, behind the Brewers by 5.5 games. At this point in time, both of these teams are still very much alive as far as the post-season is concerned. With that being said, both of these teams will also need to have better second halves of their seasons than they have had first halves.
Unfortunately, there are few signs pointing to either of these teams performing better in the second half of their respective seasons than they did in the first half. Both sides lack consistency in just about every facet of their game. If the pitching is on one night, the hitting is off, and if the bats are on fire, so too are those of the opponent. Unless they are able to click on all cylinders, the Pirates and Cardinals will be on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs are concerned.
Overview and Analysis
On the mound for the Pirates (-115) will be right-hander, Gerrit Cole (7-7 4.43 ERA). Cole’s season, in many ways, is the perfect microcosm for how the Prates’ season, as a whole, is going. One night, he will step onto the mound and be the star pitcher everyone in Major League Baseball knows he is capable of being. Other nights, however, he will give up 10 hits and 7 earned in the blink of an eye, like what happened against the Giants before the All-Star Break.
I am of the opinion that Gerrit Cole will come out and put on a competent display. With a nice rest under his belt, he will be fully ready to start clean and get this second half of the season off to a better start than the first. If the Pirates bats can keep hitting like they were before the break, I do not foresee many issues for the Pirates in this one.
For the Cardinals (-105), Mike Leake (6-7 3.12 ERA) will be making the start. As if these teams were not similar enough already, the two starting pitchers have similar records. Leake has also been inconsistent on the year and trades wins for losses consistently. Unlike Cole, however, Leake does not have many nights where he is horribly out of form. In the last 10 starts for Leake, he has only given up more than 5 runs on one occasion. Despite this, his record was 2-5 during that 10-game span.
Without much help from an offense, a starting pitcher is always going to have a questionable record. Perhaps the Cardinals will have capitalized on the break as well and will come out hitting unlike they did through the first half of the season. In not, it might just be another one of those nights for Mike Leake.
I alluded to it up top, but I think the wager you have to take in this one is the Pirates (-115) moneyline. Both of these teams have near even moneyline odds, but I think the Pirates’ offense takes the cake in this matchup. They struggled through the early stages of the season, but in the lead-up to the All-Star Break—apart from the Giants series—the Pirates’ bats were unlike we had seen all along. I expect that much to continue on Friday, and I expect the Pirates to win.
As far as the over/under is concerned, Bovada currently has it listed at an even 8 runs (-125/-105). I think the over (-125) is the bet to go with in this one. My reasoning for this is quite simple. This season has been one of the hottest-hitting seasons on record, and I think that will continue. What’s more, players have had a few days off and will come back to this game feeling fresh. I think this will all translate into runs being scored.
The Pirates’ point spread is currently listed by Bovada at -1.5 (+165), but I would advise that you stay away from the point spread in this one. When you consider how the first part of this piece pointed out all the similarities between the two teams, I think it would be unwise for someone to expect one team to blow the other out. Can it happen? Sure. I simply do not think Friday night is the night we are going to see a beatdown one way or another. With regard to the Cardinals’ +1.5 (-200), I simply do not think the odds are worth the bet. The Pirates may very easily win by 2+ runs, and the -200 odds are dreadful.