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Pirates vs. Brewers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Pittsburgh Has Value as Live Underdog (Monday, August 2)

Pirates vs. Brewers Odds, Preview, Prediction: Pittsburgh Has Value as Live Underdog (Monday, August 2) article feature image

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Eric Lauer

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates are big underdogs against the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday night.
  • Despite the disparity in the odds, Michael Arinze believes that bettors should be careful trusting Eric Lauer as such a large favorite.

Pirates vs. Brewers Odds

Pirates Odds+190
Brewers Odds-250
Time8:10 p.m. ET
Odds as of Monday morning and via BetMGM.

After winning two out of three against the Phillies, the Pirates head to Milwaukee for a three-game series against the Brewers.

Both teams faced off less than a week ago in Pittsburgh when Milwaukee swept the series and outscored the Pirates 28-3. This is clearly a revenge spot for Pittsburgh, but does it have enough to slow down a red-hot Milwaukee lineup?

Let's peel back the numbers and see where the edge lies in this divisional matchup.

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Get to Know Bryse Wilson

Bryse Wilson gets set to make his debut for the Pirates after coming over from Atlanta in the trade for reliever Richard Rodriguez. You might recall that Wilson is the same pitcher who frustrated the Dodgers in last year's NLCS. Wilson pitched six innings and allowed just one run in his first and only postseason appearance. His outing carried Atlanta to a 10-2 victory and a 3-1 series lead. However, the Dodgers stormed back to win the next three games and advanced to the World Series.

One would have thought Wilson's trajectory would have been on the rise with the Braves following that performance. Instead, he was shuttled back and forth to the minor leagues this season. At 23 years old, Wilson still has his career in front of him. But when teams like the Braves start trading away young pitchers, it's alarming enough that it should catch your attention.

Lack Of Consistency Plagues Wilson

Atlanta used Wilson sporadically this season as he appeared in seven games with seven starts. His record stands at 2-3 with a 5.88 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP. Ironically, he started against the Pirates in his MLB debut back in August 2018, and he pitched five shutout innings to earn the win. He didn't start another game after that in 2018, and he's only made 22 appearances with 14 starts in his career. It seems that the Braves never really trusted him as someone who could pitch every fifth day. Why else would they give up on such a young arm?

Wilson has struggled with consistency this year, and it's tough to know which pitcher will show up at times. He allowed 10 runs in 12 innings of work in April but bounced back in May and allowed three runs in 12.2 innings. In his only start in June, he allowed five runs in four innings and then waited over a month to make his next start against the Mets—who he pitched three scoreless innings against in the second game of a doubleheader.

A glance at his advanced numbers shows a 5.24 xERA and 5.65 FIP. Both point to some positive regression, but it's still too high for my liking. He's also lost a little bit of velocity as his fastball is down to 93.4 mph, whereas it averaged well over 94 mph in his first three seasons. Perhaps that's why his K/9 ratio dropped to 6.15 from 8.62 last year. His HR/9 ratio had also gone up to 1.87 from 1.15 in 2020.

When you put these dwindling numbers into context, it's possible to see why Atlanta decided to move on from Wilson. It's certainly possible that the chance to have a regular turn in the rotation will do him some good. He's more than capable of having a good outing every once in a while. Now, the real test will be if he can develop any consistency moving forward.

Lauer Struggles at Home

Eric Lauer will make his 11th start and 15th appearance for Milwaukee on Monday night. He's 3-4 on the season with a 3.78 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He actually featured in the series last week against the Pirates but was used out of the bullpen. In three innings, he allowed one run as part of a 7-3 Milwaukee victory.

While his numbers aren't terrible as a starter, they haven't always translated into wins for the Brewers. Milwaukee is actually 4-6 on the year when he starts for a loss of 3.02 units. In fact, despite allowing only three runs in his last two starts, the Brewers lost both of the games. They're also just 1-5 in his last six starts at home.

There are some warning signs to consider given his 3.99 xERA and 4.60 FIP. Each points to a slight regression which is likely due to his 3.64 BB/9 and 1.54 HR/9 ratios. Lauer also doesn't seem to be fooling opposing hitters at the plate as they have a 78.9% contact rate against him, which improves to 82.8% on pitches inside the strike zone.

What's even more problematic is the high contact rate has only yielded a 0.97 GB/FB ratio.

To sum it up, it's clear there are areas in Lauer's game where he can be vulnerable. And given his home/away splits, just because he's pitching at American Family Field doesn't necessarily make this game a slam dunk for the Brewers.

Pirates-Brewers Pick

I don't think many people were expecting the Pirates to win the series against the Phillies this weekend. I'm sure the Phillies weren't expecting that either, and perhaps that's why they piled up 15 runs on Sunday out of frustration.

Nonetheless, winning two-out-of-three against a Phillies team that's embroiled in a divisional race is something positive the Pirates can carry into this series. And when you add in the revenge angle, I don't think these two teams are as far apart given the starting pitching that will be on the mound.

My model actually makes Pittsburgh no higher than a +140 underdog. We already know that Wilson is more than capable of having a good outing now and then. But can he slow down this Brewers offense that, since the All-Star break, is third in the league with a .274 batting average, fourth with a .344 OBP, and 10th with an above-average wRC+ value of 110?

I tried various ways to make a case for the Pirates in this game, and the best result I could find was that they're 76-93 for +4.6 units in a revenge spot on the road.

There are actually many more angles that lean to the Brewers, such as teams that are at least a +185 underdog on the road, coming off a game in which they allowed 15 or more runs and scored four or fewer runs are just 4-17 for a loss of 7.75 units. Lastly, teams that are at least +185 underdogs on the road this season are 53-77 for -19.88 units.

Having said that, I still think Milwaukee is a bit overvalued from a power-rating perspective.

This is not a game I'm going to get involved in, but if I did, I'd take a shot with the revenge-minded Pirates who BetMGM is offering at +190.

Lean: Pirates ML (+190)

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