In: MLB Free Picks26 Aug 2011
Free Picks Newsletter Lead Researcher
113-67-1 Overall Record
MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates (+150) vs Saint Louis Cardinals (-160) Over-Under 8.5
The Pirates and Cardinals may not be most eye catching match up on the board. It’s a division match up that already has been played 11 times. And both of these teams are pretty much out of the playoff picture because neither have any shot of catching the Braves for the NL Wildcard. If they have any hope at all to make the post season, they have to win the NL Central. The Cardinals are currently 13 games backs of the Brewers in the NL Central with just 31 games to play. The Pirates are 16 games back with 31 left to play. It’s over for both of these clubs.
Still, the games have to be played and that’s good for us. The more match ups are the board, the more we have to choose from, and the better chance we have at finding a strong wager. That’s exactly what happened here.
It wasn’t long ago the Pirates were in the race for the NL Central. Back at the end of July, Pittsburgh was 51-45 and they were getting ready to host the Cardinals for a 3 game series. That marks the beginning of the end of the Pirates Season. Since the start of that series, the Pirates have a record of just 10-24. The moves that this team made to boast it’s offensive production have to be categorized as a fail. The Pirates traded for Derrick Lee, who is on the DL with a broken wrist. The Pirates then went out and got Ryan Ludwick from the Padres who is also on the DL. These two players have combined to play just 26 games for the Pirates and they will end up spending more games on the DL than games played with the Pirates.
Still all is not lost. This Pirates team has the chance to be the first Pirates team in almost 20 years to finish the season with a .500 record or better. If they are going to do it, they are going to need to rely on their pitching.
James McDonald has been one of the pleasant surprises for Pittsburgh this season. McDonald has an 8-6 record this year. He has 115 strike outs which leads the team and has already doubled his previous season strike out high. He average 7.4 strike outs per 9 innings pitched, no other start for the Pirated average even 6k/9. This season has been an absolute success for McDonald.
He will only continue to get better. In his last 3 games, McDonald’s ERA is 4.08, which is pretty much in line with his season average. However his WHIP over these 3 games is just 1.19. That’s a good number. He has allowed just 13 hits over his last 17 innings. His ERA should be much lower given how few hits he is allowing. The problem is the long ball. He has allowed 3 Home Runs in his last 3 games, and 8 HRs over his last 5 starts. If he can cut down on his mistakes he can be even better.
McDonald has that chance to be better right now. He has pitched really well against Saint Louis in his career. Over 7 games, McDonald has just a career ERA of 3.05 against the Cards. He holds them to just a .244 batting average. In fact, in his 3 career starts against this team, he has not allowed more than 2 earned runs. I like what he is bringing to the mound.
If McDonald is going to get the win today, he will have to outpitch Jake Westbrook. This is Westbrook’s first full season in Saint Louis and they have to be disappointed. On the year, Westbrook has a 4.70 ERA. That is his highest ERA since 2002. Westbrook is a much better pitcher than the numbers are saying though. In fact, he has been proving that his slow start was just that, a slow start. Since the All Star Break Westbrook’s ERA is just 3.48, compared to the 5.34 ERA pre All Star break. Hitters were hitting above .300 the first half of the season, and since the all star break they are hitting just .246. Like I said, Westbrook is much better than his season numbers. In fact, in Westbrooks last 10 starts, he has 6 quality starts. He only had 5 quality starts in his first 16 starts. Because of this we are getting some value on the Under.
Pirates aren’t really an offensive threat, they are 25th in the league in runs scored. James McDonald is getting even better as he grows into a major league pitcher. Westbrook has overcame his slow start, and has been really good over his last 10. All this to say there is great value in the Under.
Take: Under 8.5