Guardians vs Pirates Odds & Picks: Bet Monday’s Underdog
Justin Berl/Getty Images. Pictured: Quinn Priester of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Guardians vs Pirates Odds
The Pittsburgh Pirates youth movement is officially here. Since the start of the season, the Pirates have called up Carmen Mlodzinski (No. 23-ranked prospect), Henry Davis (No. 2), Nick Gonzales (No. 6) and Jared Triolo (No. 16) to make their major league debuts.
On Monday, three more of Pittsburgh’s top 10 prospects will make their MLB debuts together. No. 3-ranked prospect Endy Rodriguez and No. 7-ranked prospect Liover Peguero will both get the call-up to the big leagues alongside Monday’s starting pitcher Quinn Priester, Pittsburgh’s No. 4 prospect.
The Pirates started the year strong but are 2-10 in July and were just swept by San Francisco. They have struggled on offense since early May.
Cleveland has also struggled on offense and hasn’t done that much better than the Pirates. The only difference is that the weak AL Central still has them in the middle of a playoff race. There is no question Pittsburgh fans are very excited for Monday’s game and all eyes will be glued to this matchup.
But does the betting value lie with the Young Bucs?
One of Cleveland’s top prospects last season, Xzavion Curry, will be making his first start of the year after appearing in 23 games out of the bullpen. He has been used as a middle reliever, is capable of covering multiple innings and holds a 3.04 ERA.
The expected indicators are troubling for Curry. He has an xERA of 5.02 and the problematic combination of allowing a ton of hard contact with a minuscule strikeout rate. Balls get put in play often and he ranks in the bottom 5% of the league in average exit velocity.
In two starts last season, Curry struggled — he allowed seven runs and 13 hits while striking out just three over 9 1/3 innings. Curry has not pitched more than three innings since April and just pitched in relief on Saturday, so don’t expect him to go long in this matchup.
Cleveland has been a huge disappointment at the plate this year. Expected to be one of the American League’s stronger teams, the Guardians rank just 24th in wRC+ and 26th in wOBA. They have started to hit better of late, sitting 15th in wOBA over the last 30 days.
The Guardians have had their own injection of youth, with arrival of top prospect Bo Naylor. He and his brother Josh have been leading the way for Cleveland and have been a great story to bring some excitement to this team.
Pittsburgh’s No. 4 overall and top pitching prospect, Quinn Priester, will make his MLB debut on Monday in front of a crowd of excited yinzers. Through 18 starts for Triple-A, Priester has a 4.31 ERA with 84 strikeouts across 87 2/3 innings.
The 22-year-old utilizes a two-seam fastball as his primary pitch, and it has helped him generate a 53.8% groundball rate. He also throws a four-seam fastball, a slider, a changeup and a terrific curveball that is by far his best pitch.
11 K (season high) pic.twitter.com/5VjLtN1Fxo
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) June 25, 2023
The offense has gone dry along the Allegheny River for the last few months. Since the start of May, Pittsburgh ranks dead last in wOBA (.290) and wRC+ (79) by a good margin. Over that stretch, the Pirates have scored at least five runs just 15 times and been held to one run or fewer 15 times.
Jack Suwinski has been Pittsburgh's best hitter all year, leading the team with a 128 wRC+. He has 19 home runs on the season. He and Andrew McCutchen are the only two Buccos with a wRC+ over 120.
Ever since getting called up, Henry Davis is batting .280 and has not looked out of place at the plate at all. Pittsburgh is hoping Rodriguez and Peguero will make the seamless transition as well.
Guardians vs Pirates Betting Pick
How do you get a starving fanbase excited about a team that has won just two of its last 12 games? You call up three of your top seven prospects to make their MLB debuts together. With five of their top seven prospects expected to be in Monday’s lineup, the Young Bucs have officially arrived in Pittsburgh.
This game is extremely difficult to handicap. You have two young pitchers who have yet to make a start in the majors this season. Priester is an interesting prospect on whom scouts are high, but pitch data models are not. Curry has really struggled with allowing hard contact this season and likely only throws a few innings.
Both offenses have severely underperformed at the plate this year — it’s hard to be overly confident in either of these offenses. Pittsburgh and Cleveland were both swept in their first series since the All-Star break.
I think the Pirates' call-ups light a fire under this team and inject some juice into the ballpark on Monday. The Young Bucs will surely be excited to take the field together in Pittsburgh after their time together in the minor leagues. The Pirates’ veterans should receive a wake-up call that their spots in the lineup are in jeopardy if they do not start performing.
PNC Park will likely see a larger-than-normal Monday crowd with excitement about the future direction of the Pirates. In a game that is difficult to project what the starting pitchers will give us, I am willing to bet the desperate Pirates come out extra motivated on Monday, and I am going to back the Young Bucs to help raise the Jolly Roger.