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Sunday MLB Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Sept. 20)

Sunday MLB Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Sept. 20) article feature image

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images. Pictured: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty.

  • The St. Louis Cardinals take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in Sunday afternoon MLB action.
  • With Jack Flaherty taking the mound for St. Louis, there's value on the Cardinals F5.
  • Check out Michael Arinze's full preview with updated odds below.

Cardinals vs. Pirates Odds

Cardinals Odds -167 [Bet Now]
Pirates Odds +145 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 7.5 (-120/-103) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 4:05 p.m. ET

Odds as of Sunday at 2:15 p.m. ET and via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The St. Louis Cardinals are clinging to second place in the NL Central. St. Louis trailed Pittsburgh, 4-0, at the end of the sixth inning Saturday before erupting for five runs in the top of the seventh to secure the 5-4 victory.

St. Louis’ win, combined with Cincinnati’s loss to the Chicago White Sox, meant that the Reds are now a game behind the second-place Cardinals in the division race. With hope of maintaining their lead, the Cardinals will send Jack Flaherty to the mound, as he seeks to bounce back from a horrific outing where he gave up nine earned runs in three innings.

Flaherty will be opposed by Pirates hurler Joe Musgrove, who is still in search of his first win of the season.

However, with the Pirates mired in a 1-9 slump, it would be wise to expect Musgrove to face an uphill battle in today’s matchup.

Pirates Playing out the String

The writing is on the wall for the Pirates. At 15-37, they have the worst record in baseball. There’s nothing left for the Pirates and they’re already playing out the string. Pittsburgh’s focus is on next season, using its remaining games to prepare some of its young players.

You can almost expect the motivation in the Pirates’ clubhouse to be different from some of the young players to the veterans. And that divide likely won’t help Musgrove.

Per FanGraphs, Musgrove is 0-5 with 5.74 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. His 4.87 FIP which is lower than his ERA, says he’s been a bit unlucky this season. However, the difference isn’t enough to really improve his standing as a pitcher.

Musgrove’s problem this year has been largely due to a high walk rate (4.73 BB/9). He’s had to pitch much of the season with traffic on the base paths and that’s contributed to shorter outings. And despite an impressive 11.48 K/9 ratio, he’s still only able to strand 72% of the runners that reach base.

Musgrove has struggled to establish his fastball. In his last start, his fastball was -2.1 runs below average and for the season it’s -3.1 runs below average. Per Baseball Savant, Musgrove throws two fastball grips: a four seamer and a sinker. Unfortunately for him though, it hasn’t really mattered as batters have an xWOBA of .399 and .379 against both pitches. Today’s opponent likely won’t help matters as he’s 1-7 with a 6.75 ERA against the Cardinals.

Flaherty Due for a Bounce Back

If there’s a pitcher you could say is due to turn things around, it’s Flaherty. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 5.52 ERA, yet somehow only boasts a 1.26 WHIP. His 4.48 FIP is more than a full run lower than his ERA, while his xFIP is almost two runs lower.

Like Musgrove, Flaherty has also struggled with his command. He has a 3.07 BB/9 ratio and he’s really been subpar in leveraged spots with runners on. Batters have a .389 AVG / .488 OBP / .500 slash line against him with men on base and in this situational spot, his WHIP jumps to 2.50 with a 5.94 FIP.

The good news for Cardinals fans is that Flaherty’s last start was the only time he’s allowed more than three runs this season. And facing the Pirates might just be the perfect elixir for him.

Flaherty is 5-1 with a 1.94 ERA in eight starts against the Pirates. He actually has more career wins against Pittsburgh than any other big-league club he’s faced. He should be happy to face a Pirates lineup  only hitting .227 against him, with a .279 OBP and .320 SLG.

Betting Analysis & Pick

The Pirates look like a team that deserve to be faded the rest of the way. They look like a team that lacks motivation at the moment, while the Cardinals have everything to play for down the stretch. The head-to-head matchups, particularly with the pitchers, are certainly to the Cardinals’ advantage.

Saturday’s collapse must have felt like a gut punch to the Pirates, especially when you allow five runs in an inning to blow a lead. And I’m not sure how the Pirates come back from that.

Pittsburgh is second to last in baseball with a wRC+ rating o70. After looking at all the factors in this game, I can only back the favorite in this spot. However, I’ll look to limit my action to the first five innings to avoid the juice on the full game moneyline.

FanDuel is offering a F5 RLon St. Louis at -108 odds.

I’ll risk a half-unit of my bankroll on Flaherty and the Cardinals to have the lead after the first five innings in this ballgame.

Pick: Cardinals First Five Innings -108

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