Thursday MLB Odds, Preview, Prediction for Cardinals vs. Pirates: Can St. Louis Finish Sweep? (August 12)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images. Pictured: JT Brubaker.
- Pittsburgh and St. Louis finish their three-game series Thursday afternoon at PNC Park.
- The Cardinals are looking for the sweep after pitching an absolute gem on Wednesday, but the Pirates have the pitching edge.
- Mike Ianniello explains below how he's finding a way to bet Pittsburgh.
Cardinals vs. Pirates Odds
|Time||12:35 p.m. ET|
The St. Louis Cardinals came into the season as the favorite to win their fifth NL Central division title in the last 10 seasons. Their preseason price was +105 to win the division with a win total of 86.5, four wins above Milwaukee, who had the second best odds.
Things have not gone as planned in St. Louis as the Cardinals sit 11 games behind Milwaukee for the division lead and per FanGraphs, have just a 0.5% chance to win the division and a 1.6% chance to make the playoffs.
Pittsburgh is actually on pace to go over its 59.5 preseason win total, but still sits in last place in the NL Central, and has the second worst record in the National League.
St. Louis is 8-3 against the Pirates this season, the only divisional opponent they have a winning record against. Adam Wainwright through an incredible complete game shutout last night on just 88 pitches, the fewest for a complete game in franchise history.
Will St. Louis be able to complete the sweep on Thursday, or does the value lie with the Buccos?
Cardinals Pitching Staff Decimated By Injury
The biggest reason for the disappointing season in St. Louis has been the decimation of their pitching rotation. Ace Jack Flaherty has been out since May, Kwang Hyun Kim was placed on the injured list for the third time on Monday, Carlos Martinez is out for the season and Miles Mikolas has made just one start all year.
It has been a long, well-traveled season for Thursday’s starter Wade LeBlanc (LHP). LeBlanc signed a contract with Baltimore during this spring and appeared in six games (one start) for the Orioles before being designated for assignment and electing free agency on April 29.
He then signed a minor league contract with Milwaukee on May 4 and exercised his opt-out clause on May 27. He signed a minor league contract with Texas on June 1, before being released on June 16.
Finally, LeBlanc signed a major league contract with St. Louis on June 17. He has made seven starts for the Cardinals and holds a solid 2.94 ERA but concerning 5.16 FIP. He has pitched into the fifth inning in five of his seven starts which is something the Cards desperately need.
At this point in his career, LeBlanc is never going to blow anybody away. His fastball averages just 88 miles per hour. His strikeout rate is in the bottom 1% of the league. His job is just to eat innings and limit the damage as much as possible.
Despite the big acquisition of Nolan Arenado, St. Louis ranks just 27th in runs this season. They are just 20th in batting average and 24th in wOBA this year and have especially struggled on the road.
Pittsburgh’s Brubaker Slumping After Hot Start
Pittsburgh will send JT Brubaker (RHP) to the mound for the season finale, and it has been a rollercoaster season for the second-year starter. Brubaker started the year on fire, posting a 2.63 ERA through the first month of the season.
He has continued to sprinkle in great outings here and there but has since raised his ERA to 4.95, including a 6.57 ERA during July. In his last start, Brubaker got lit up for nine runs and walked four batters in five innings against the Reds.
Already tossing a career-high 107 1/3 innings to lead the Pirates, Brubaker has lasted five innings in 16 of his 20 starts. He has a solid 9.06 K/9 rate, largely due to his slider. He also throws a solid sinker, as well as a fastball and the occasional curveball and changeup.
The Buccos have been the worst offense in baseball this year and have only gotten worse since trading All-Star Adam Frazier. Pittsburgh ranks last in the league in runs and home runs, and rank 29th in wOBA.
The Pirates stink. They are one of the worst teams in the league, and I am not going to try and convince you why they should win this game because in all honesty, they probably shouldn’t. Pittsburgh is just 1-9 in its last 10 games and has lost seven in a row. However, the Pirates have still won 36% of their games this season and realistically are good enough to win around one out of every three games.
While neither of these starting pitchers inspire much confidence, I think Brubaker has the better chance of providing a really strong outing. Even with some duds lately and a beatdown in his last start, Brubaker allowed just one run in six innings against the Phillies in the game before that. He has allowed just two runs or fewer in 11 starts this year.
LeBlanc is already on his fourth team this season alone and has a 4.02 ERA this season and 5.39 xERA. He faced the Pirates earlier in the year in a relief appearance and allowed five hits and three runs in 2 1/3 innings, allowing two home runs.
The Pirates bullpen is an absolute disaster, ranking 28th in the league over the last month, so I’ll just bet on Brubaker to out pitch LeBlanc in the series finale. Brubaker has been much better at PNC Park this year, posting a 3.65 ERA at home.
I’ll bet the Pirates First Five Innings at +110 or better on Thursday afternoon.
Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates First Five +110 or better