The Pittsburgh Pirates will begin a three-game set against the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday night in a duel of NL Central teams. It’s time to continue our MLB odds series and make a Pirates-Cardinals prediction and pick.
This matchup doesn’t have serious implications for the Pirates, but is absolutely crucial for the Cardinals. St. Louis is rapidly losing ground in the race for the division, and this series against a bottom-dwelling Pittsburgh team is the perfect time to close the gap.
First, let’s see how the Vegas bookmakers have set the odds.
MLB Odds: Pirates-Cardinals Odds
Pittsburgh Pirates ML (+141)
St. Louis Cardinals ML (-153)
Over 9 runs (-109)
Under 9 runs (-111)
Why The Pirates Could Cover The Spread
This isn’t a sentence you’ll see often in 2021, but the Pirates actually have a pitching advantage in this game.
Chad Kuhl will be taking the mound for Pittsburgh, which doesn’t usually lead to a pitching advantage. However, the Cardinals will be sending out the beleaguered Carlos Martinez for tonight’s game.
Martinez has been simply abysmal in his last couple of outings, sporting an ERA of 9.95 over his last 31.2 innings pitched. Over that 31.2 inning span, he’s allowed almost as many runs as hits, with a 39-35 lead to the latter. To make matters better for the Pirates, all of their hitters seem to hit Martinez well. Five players expected to be in the Pittsburgh lineup tonight are batting over .300 against him. If Martinez is on the mound, anyone facing the Cardinals has a solid shot to win.
While Kuhl making the start for the Pirates may not inspire confidence, there are some reasons for optimism. He’s a streaky pitcher who has excelled against teams with similar stats to the Cardinals. Kuhl pitched nicely against the Miami Marlins and the Cleveland Indians, two squads that have a nearly identical team batting average and OBP to the Cardinals.
Why The Cardinals Could Cover The Spread
If the Cardinals want to win this game, it will have to be off of the strength of their lineup.
I know that may not be a great thing to hear for Cardinals fans, but there is some hope. Four hitters who are slated to be in the lineup for tonight have faced Kuhl multiple times and had success, with all of them batting over .300 against the opposing starter. With a lineup that has several power threats, damaging Kuhl early is a strong possibility.
Despite Martinez’s string of awful starts, there’s at least a small chance he pulls things together. His last good start happened to come against the Pirates in May, when he threw an eight inning shutout and earned himself a victory.
Final Pirates-Cardinals Prediction & Pick
The Cardinals may have a better lineup and a better record, but it’s impossible to confidently place a bet on them tonight. With Martinez on the mound it’s pretty much impossible to place money down them without breaking into a cold sweat. The Pirates have decent odds at +141 with a possibility of them getting even better before the first pitch. It’s hard to bet confidently on either one of these teams tonight, but give me the better odds on the Pirates, who have the pitching advantage as well as the potential to put up a a very solid number of runs.
FINAL PICK: Pittsburgh Pirates ML (+141)