For the first time this season, the Pittsburgh Pirates visit the NL Central rival St. Louis Cardinals, with Game 1 on Thursday night. Behind the inconsistent Michael Wacha, the Cards are MLB odds favorites in the opener.
Pirates vs Cardinals MLB Spread, Expert Pick & Game Info
- When: Thursday, 7:45 PM ET
- Where: Busch Stadium
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Joe Musgrove/Michael Wacha
- TV: MLB Network
- Live Stream: MLB.tv
- Radio: ESPN 92.9 FM
- MLB Spread: St. Louis Cardinals -1.5 (Total 8.5)
St. Louis leads 2-0, winning both on the road. On April 1, the Pirates prevailed 6-5 in 11 innings. The Cardinals rallied to tie it in the eighth and again in the ninth then took their first and only lead in the 11th. Paul DeJong singled off Steven Brault, with two outs, moved to third after a hit batter and a walk and sprinted home from third when Pirates reliever Nick Kingham and catcher Francisco Cervelli got crossed up. St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina made his first career appearance at third base in his 1,875th game in the majors.
In Game 2, the Cards were 5-4 winners in 10 innings. Tyler O’Neill capped another rally by driving in Kolten Wong for the go-ahead run in the 10th inning. Harrison Bader hit a two-run homer off Keone Kela in the eighth to tie the game at 3.
Why Bet on Pittsburgh?
Outfielder Corey Dickerson could resume throwing soon. Dickerson was placed on the injured list back on April 4 with a right posterior shoulder strain, and he suffered a setback while trying to resume throwing late last month. Melky Cabrera and Bryan Reynolds have essentially been sharing time in left field over the last couple of weeks.
Reliever Keone Kela is still being assessed. Kela has been unavailable since leaving an appearance Saturday against the Athletics due to discomfort in his right shoulder, but the Pirates have yet to place him on the injured list, so there is obviously some hope that it’s a minor issue. The 26-year-old has disappointed to the tune of a 4.63 ERA in 11 2/3 innings this season.
Josh Bell is tied for fourth among all Major League players with 21 extra-base hits this season. Among his last 15 hits, 12 have gone for extra bases (six doubles, five homers, and one triple). Felipe Vázquez recorded his 10th save of the season Tuesday night and the 68th in his career with the Pirates. Since the beginning of 2018, Vázquez’ 47 saves are the third-most among all National League pitchers.
Joe Musgrove (1-3) allowed seven runs (five earned) on six hits with one strikeout and two walks across just 2.2 innings during a loss to the Athletics last Friday. Friday was just one of those nights for Musgrove and the Pirates. Athletics veteran catcher Josh Phegley, who had 15 RBI last year, crushed Musgrove and Pirates pitching, knocking in eight runs.
Musgrove struggled against multiple hitters, though, and the Pirates defense made matters worse, committing two errors early to get the ball rolling for the Oakland offense. It was a horrific start that dropped Musgrove to 1-3 this year, but he still has a 2.63 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, and 32 strikeouts in 37.2 innings.
Musgrove 1-2 with a 4.26 ERA in three career starts vs. St. Louis. He won an 8-1 decision (7.0ip/0r) over John Gant in his Pirates debut on 5/25/18 at PNC Park in addition to singling off Gant in the sixth inning for his first career hit.
- Runs: 3.64
- Hits: 8.00
- Walks: 2.91
- Strike Outs: 8.61
- Runs: 4.48
- Hits: 8.03
- Walks: 3.24
- Strike Outs: 9.00
Why Bet on St. Louis?
The Cards rested a couple of guys Wednesday who should be back in there Thursday. Center fielder Harrison Bader took a seat, with Dexter Fowler in center field and Jose Martinez is in right field. Bader has been somewhat of a part-time player since returning from a hamstring strain in late April, but he’s by far the best defender on the team’s outfield depth chart.
Second baseman Kolten Wong also sat. Wong got off to a very encouraging start this season, but he has batted just .158/.290/.175 over his last 69 plate appearances. Shortstop Paul DeJong is batting .391 (27-69) at Busch Stadium this season in 18 games, leading the N.L. with his 10 doubles at home, while ranking 3rd behind the Dodgers Cody Bellinger (.431) & his teammate José Martínez (.423) in home batting average. DeJong has hit safely in all but one of his 19 home games and has nine multi-hit efforts.
Opposing teams have attempted just six stolen bases (two caught) against the Cardinals this season, the lowest total among all Major League teams with Miami (12 total attempts against) having the next fewest.
It’s Michael Wacha (2-0, 5.17) on the mound. Wacha struck out four but was tagged with five runs (four earned) over five innings in a no-decision against the Cubs on Saturday. He allowed six hits and four walks as the Cubs eventually won 6-5. Wacha gave up a run in the first inning on a Kris Bryant single, but he ran into real trouble in the fourth. Holding a 5-1 lead, he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before yielding a grand slam to Taylor Davis to tie the score. The 27-year-old stayed in through the fifth inning but was removed after throwing 83 pitches.
Wacha hasn’t pitched past the fifth in the two starts he’s made since returning from the injured list. Walks have caused some trouble, too. This will be Wacha’s third start of the year at Busch Stadium, where he’s given up eight runs in 9 1/3 innings.
- Runs: 4.89
- Hits: 8.70
- Walks: 3.68
- Strike Outs: 8.41
- Runs: 4.54
- Hits: 7.70
- Walks: 3.65
- Strike Outs: 8.73
Pirates vs Cardinals MLB Betting Trends
- Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings
- Pirates are 1-5 SU in their last 6 games against St. Louis
- The total has gone OVER in 5 of Pittsburgh’s last 6 games this season
- Cardinals are 13-4 SU in their last 17 games at home
- Cardinals are 4-0 in Wacha’s last 4 home starts vs. Pirates
- The total has gone UNDER in 6 of St. Louis’ last 9 games against an opponent in the National League
Expert Final Score Prediction for Pirates vs Cardinals
Pittsburgh Pirates 3 – St. Louis Cardinals 5