The St. Louis Cardinals could be short on pitching Thursday when they open a series at NL Central doormat Pittsburgh because the Cards will have played two doubleheaders already this week as they try and catch the Cubs in the NL Central.
How to Bet Cardinals at Pirates MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Thursday, 7:05 PM ET
- Where: PNC Park
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Dakota Hudson/Steven Brault
- TV: MLB Extra Innings
- Stream/gameday audio: https://www.mlb.com/live-stream-games/
- Opening MLB Lines: TBA
Why Bet on St. Louis?
On Monday vs. Milwaukee, rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win in extra innings 3-2, their first extra inning win with the new extra inning rules. Earning the win Monday, Génesis Cabrera is now tied for the Cardinals team lead with four wins with Adam Wainwright. The lefty reliever trails only San Francisco’s Caleb Baragar and Texas’ Jonathan Sanchez among MLB relief pitchers with five wins.
If the Cards come up short of repeating as NL Central champions, one share of blame must go to Kolten Wong. Last season Wong had the best year of his career at the plate as he posted a 108 wRC+ (tied career high) with 11 home runs and a respectable 8.6% walk rate. However, last season Wong also posted the lowest exit velocity (86.1 mph) of his career.
This year, Wong has improved his average exit velocity to 87 and increased his walk rate to 10.7% while slightly reducing his strikeout rate (15.1% in 2019, 14.8% in 2020) as well. However, despite all of these positive changes, Wong has seen his wRC+ fall to just 94, which is below league average.
It’s young right-hander Dakota Hudson (3-2) on the mound here. Hudson surrendered one run over six innings on Saturday in a win over the Reds. Hudson registered four strikeouts, yielded only one hit and also handed out four walks.
Hudson started off strong with two perfect innings. But then, he lost command in the third, walking three consecutive batters to open the frame. He never lost his control.
“One pitch at a time,” Hudson said. “During those walks, I was throwing a lot of small-miss pitches. I was pretty competitive with my pitch selection, but it was just about bearing down, not giving in and trusting the defense behind me.”
The 25-year-old has made tremendous strides in the control department, slashing his walk rate from nearly 4.5 percent per-nine last year to just over 3 percent per-nine this season. He’s surrendered three earned runs or fewer in six consecutive starts and will carry a 2.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 31/13 K/BB ratio across 37 innings (seven starts) into this one.
Why Bet on Pittsburgh?
The Bucs are dead last in the NL Central and playing out the string. They aren’t likely to be good again for at least a few years. It hasn’t helped that projected closer Keone Kela has logged just two innings this season because of a COVID-19 diagnosis and then a forearm issue.
The team recently placed reliever Kyle Crick on the 10-day injured list with a lat strain. The 27-year-old missed more than a month due to shoulder and lat discomfort earlier this season as well. Crick has pitched just 5 2/3 innings in 2020, and he’s only surrendered one earned run. Still, Crick hasn’t looked right in 2020, as he’s averaged just 91.3 mph on his four-seamer — a pitch that averaged 95.4 mph in 2019 and 96.4 mph in 2018.
It has been an ugly season for Pirates pitchers overall, and the disturbing thing is they have gotten worse as the season has progressed, not better. New pitching coach Oscar Marin could be one-and-done in that role. On the bright side, between the catchers (9) and pitchers (3), the Pirates have caught 12 runners attempting to steal this season. Among Major League teams, only the Angels (14) have produced more (the Indians also have 12).
It’s scheduled to be lefty Steven Brault (0-3) on the mound here. Brault allowed three runs over four innings in last Friday’s loss to the Royals. Brault needed 97 pitches to get through four innings. He allowed five hits and walked three, giving up a solo homer to Adalberto Mondesi. He also threw a wild pitch to let a run in during the third inning. Brault once again struggled with command, bringing his season totals to just 24 strikeouts versus 17 walks. Brault now holds a 4.73 ERA through eight starts and one relief appearance this season.
“Too many three-ball counts, scattered the fastball,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said of Brault. “Just overall not being able to command the zone. I think that’s the biggest thing. Obviously 97 pitches in four innings, we’ve got to make sure that we’re more efficient than that.”
This is Brault’s first look this year at the Cardinals.Expert PredictionCardinals 6, Pirates 1
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