The worst team in baseball this season could well be the Pittsburgh Pirates after they traded away one of their best players in outfielder Starling Marte in a salary dump this offseason. The rebuilding Bucs will be underdogs in just about every game and are Friday when they open the season in St. Louis.
How to Bet Pirates at Cardinals MLB Odds & TV Info
- When: Friday, 8:15 PM ET
- Where: Busch Stadium
- Probable pitchers (away/home): Joe Musgrove/Jack Flaherty
- TV: MLB Extra Innings
- Stream: MLB.tv
- Radio: http://mlb.mlb.com/media/player/mpa/?c_id=mlb
- Opening MLB Lines: Cardinals -190, Pirates +175 (total 7.5)
Why Bet on Pittsburgh?
Derek Shelton is in his first year as Pirates manager, having spent the last two seasons as Minnesota’s Bench Coach. He also served as Toronto’s Quality Control Coach in 2017 after seven seasons as Hitting Coach with Tampa Bay (2010-16) and five seasons as Hitting Coach with Cleveland (2005-09).
The Pirates finished last in the NL Central last year at 69-93 and almost surely will again in 2020. They dealt away excellent outfielder Starling Marte in January to Arizona for two prospects and $250,000 in international signing bonus pool money. Marte, 31, has spent his entire eight-year career with the Pirates. He has a career .287 batting average with 108 homers, 420 RBIs and 239 steals. He had career highs last season with 23 homers and 82 RBIs. He won Gold Gloves in 2015 & ’16.
The ascension of outfielder Bryan Reynolds during a breakout rookie season in 2019 and Gregory Polanco’s expected recovery from shoulder issues that limited him to 42 games last season gave Pittsburgh the flexibility it needed to move Marte. However, the Pirates placed Polanco on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday. No reason was provided, but Polanco recently tested positive for COVID-19. Guillermo Heredia and Jose Osuna will see an uptick in playing time in the early going.
Joe Musgrove gets the call on the mound. He’s the de facto ace now after the Pirates lost starters Jameson Taillon (Tommy John) and Chris Archer (neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome) to season-ending surgeries. Taillon was the Opening Day starter and Archer the starter for the home opener last season, but neither will pitch this summer.
That made Musgrove the natural choice for the Pirates, and he made it clear that being the Opening Day starter was atop his goals. Musgrove went 11-12 with a 4.44 ERA and 1.23 WHIP last season, leading the team in wins, games started (31), innings pitched (170⅓) and strikeouts (157).
Musgrove fanned five of the 10 batters he faced in three scoreless innings Saturday against the Indians in his final warm-up start.
Why Bet on St. Louis?
The Cards are defending NL Central champions. They took over sole possession of first place following their win on August 23 and held it for the remainder of the season, edging Milwaukee by 2.0 games. The Cards upset the Braves in the NLDS but then were dominated in a four-game NLCS sweep by Washington. Under the ownership of Bill DeWitt, Jr. and his partners, the Cardinals have posted a 2,131-1,755 (.548) record since 1996, advancing to the postseason 14 times.
The Cardinals posted their 12th consecutive winning season in 2019, and the 79th in franchise history. The Cardinals & Yankees are the only teams to have winning seasons each of the past 12 years. Mike Shildt, in his first full season at the helm of the Cardinals, was the third manager to guide the Cardinals to an NL Central title, joining Tony La Russa and Mike Matheny.
Last year, St. Louis set a club record with just 66 errors and posted a league-best .998 fielding pct. and tied the White Sox for the majors lead in double plays with 170. The Cardinals led the majors with 133 errors in 2018 and became the first team to go from worst to first in errors in back-to-back seasons. The Cardinals had 18 players spend time on the Injured List in 2019, down from their 36 in 2018. Two players missed the entire season due to injury (LHP Brett Cecil and LHP Tony Cingrani).
It’s ace Jack Flaherty on the mound. He was one of the NL’s breakout stars last year. He set single-season career highs in wins (11), innings pitched (196.1), strikeouts (231), quality starts (20) and games started (33). Flaherty set Cardinals single-season records in strikeouts/ 9 IP (10.59) and percentage of swings that missed (30.7) (in data since 1988). His .192 opponent batting average was 2nd to only Bob Gibson (.184) in 1968.
Since 1885, he became only the third pitcher younger than 24-years-old to record a season of at least 230 strikeouts, while permitting 55-or-fewer walks to go along with an ERA of 2.75-or-better, joining Clayton Kershaw (2011) and Mark Prior (2003).
- Pirates are 7-20 in the last 27 meetings.
- Pirates are 20-45 in the last 65 meetings in St. Louis.
- Under is 23-10 in the last 33 meetings in St. Louis.
- Pirates are 2-7 in their last 9 games vs. a right-handed starter.
- Cardinals are 5-1 in their last 6 during game 1 of a series.
- Cardinals are 19-7 in their last 26 games as a home favorite.
Expert PredictionCardinals 6, Pirates 2