MLB Odds, Picks & Prediction for Cardinals vs. Pirates
Pictured: Nolan Arenado. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Cardinals vs. Pirates Odds
It’s not often you look at the standings late in the year and see the St. Louis Cardinals at the bottom of the division. In fact, the Cardinals have never finished in last place in the NL Central and haven’t finished last in their division since 1990, when they were still in the NL East.
Despite both teams sitting well below .500, the vibes are very different in Pittsburgh and St. Louis. The Pirates youth movement has begun and a plethora of talented prospects are getting playing time and creating both energy and excitement at PNC Park.
St. Louis has disappointed as much as any team in baseball. The Cardinals began the season as the odds-on favorite (-130) to win the division, but are now 17 games below .500 and have the fifth-worst record in baseball.
With Matthew Liberatore landing on the Injured List, Zack Thompson is set to replace him in the rotation. The former first-round pick has bounced between Triple-A and the Majors and has appeared in 18 games for the Cardinals this season. He's been mostly used out of the bullpen and has pitched to a 3.90 ERA.
Thompson has made two starts this season and although they were both losses, he didn't look bad. He gave up one run over four innings against the Rockies, and two runs across six frames versus the Mets. Additionally, he racked up 13 strikeouts across those starts.
The offense hasn’t been the Cardinals' issue. While the pitching staff has been horrific, the Cardinals bats rank fifth in wRC+ and wOBA, and are also top five in home runs. They have one of the most talented lineups in the league, but haven't been able to outscore their pitching woes.
Over the past two seasons, Luis Ortiz has made 14 starts for Triple-A Indianapolis, and 14 starts for the Pirates. The limited sample size has yielded mixed results this season as Ortiz has a 4.86 ERA and a concerning 7.90 xERA.
His three main pitches are his slider (32.4%), sinker (28.6%) and fastball (25.5%), and all have been crushed. His sinker has allowed a 58% Hard-Hit rate and his fastball has been slaughtered to a ridiculous .447 batting average. That number will obviously come down with a larger sample, but opponents are barreling his fastball at an alarming rate.
Even in Triple-A, Ortiz has just a 4.61 ERA and has struggled over the past few months. In his past seven starts in the minors, he has a 5.18 ERA and has allowed 19 runs in 33 innings. Pitching models love Ortiz’s stuff, especially his sinker and slider, but he's yet to fully put it together.
Cardinals vs. Pirates
Betting Pick & Prediction
Over the past two weeks, the youngsters have sparked the Pirates' offense. Pittsburgh ranks 14th in wOBA and wRC+ over the past two weeks and is top 10 over the past week.
Pittsburgh has also gone 7-2 against the Cardinals this year and is averaging five runs per game. The Pirates rank 13th in the league against fastballs, the pitch Thompson throws more than 55% of the time and has allowed a .365 wOBA and 50% hard-hit rate against.
The Cardinals' pitching has been dreadful all season, but they still have Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt. Over the past two weeks, St. Louis sits eighth in wOBA and wRC+ and gets to face a young pitcher that struggles with command and limiting hard contact.