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MLB Odds, Preview, Predictionfor Pirates vs. Cardinals: How to Bet NL Central Matchup (Thursday, June 24)

MLB Odds, Preview, Predictionfor Pirates vs. Cardinals: How to Bet NL Central Matchup (Thursday, June 24) article feature image

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images. Pictured: Kevin Newman

  • The Pittsburgh Pirates travel to St. Louis for a series with the Cardinals starting on Thursday.
  • The two teams find themselves in the final two standing spots in the NL Central coming into the weekend.
  • Jeff Hicks breaks down the matchup and makes his betting pick below.

Pirates vs. Cardinals Odds

Pirates Odds +139
Cardinals Odds -151
Over/Under 8.5
Time 8:15 p.m. ET
Odds as of Wednesday and via PointsBet.

Two teams floundering in the National League Central square off for a four-game set when Pittsburgh travels to St. Louis. The Pirates split their two-game set with the White Sox while the Cardinals were swept in their two-game series by the Detroit Tigers.

St. Louis and Pittsburgh sit fourth and fifth in the division, respectively, and are not far off from both waving the white flag on 2021. The Cardinals have more to play for at two games under .500 and only five games out. They are also 19-15 at home.

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Pirates’ Sluggish Offense To Take Hacks Off Martinez

It’s been a predictably rough season in Pittsburgh. If not for Ke’Bryan Hayes, Adam Frazier’s trade value, and a beautiful home stadium, the Pirates would not have anything else on which to hang their hats.

They head to St. Louis with a bottom-10 offense and a 15-28 road record. The offense has the second lowest hard hit percentage and the highest soft hit percentage against right-handed pitching. I am almost willing to throw out their numbers since they face Carlos Martinez and the remnants of the Cardinals’ pitching staff. The Pirates’ bats must continue to strike out at the fifth-lowest rate against Martinez and righties and find a way to take walks.

The Cardinals’ pitching staff has the highest Walks Per 9 and xFIP in baseball.

Chad Kuhl will also need to do better than he has to help the Pirates. Kuhl has a 7.45 road ERA (19 1/3 innings pitched) and a .257/.376/.473 slash line against. He has been respectable in June, posting a 4.70 ERA while allowing 18 baserunners in 15 1/3 innings. Kuhl’s barrel and hard hit percentages are below his career averages.

Cardinals’ Bats Have Disappeared Completely

Martinez is broken. He has his lowest strikeout rate and LOB percentage while posting his highest ERA of his career. Martinez’s 19 barrels allowed are his most since 2017 when he allowed 24 in 205 innings pitched. His best outing came in his May 2 start against Pittsburgh, but that feels like a lifetime ago.

The Cardinals’ offense has also suffered. Home has been unkind to the Redbirds as they have posted a 90 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) at home against righties, tied for the fifth-worst in baseball.

St. Louis has the highest soft hit percentage at home. Do not be surprised to see a lot of poor contact Friday night.

Despite possessing above-average hitters in Dylan Carlson, Nolan Arenado, Tyler O’Neill, and Paul Goldschmidt, the Cardinals’ offense is below-average as a whole. In addition to that 90 wRC+ at home against righties, they’re at just 88 for the season, which is eighth-worst in the league, and since the start of June, their 71 mark is worse than every team save the Diamondbacks.

Pirates-Cardinals Pick

There is not a lot to like when breaking down each team, but some of the offensive woes can be contributed to poor weather and injuries. The Cardinals have fielded what feels like a dozen outfielders with only one playing major-league caliber baseball.

There is also hotter weather coming as summer officially kicked off. heat, rain, and humidity could be in play Thursday with a high of 86 degrees and a low of 74.

Bad pitching plus less-than-ideal conditions leads to betting the over on runs scored. 8.5 runs seems low with two pitchers that have ERA’s over 5.25 and poor bullpens without days off to recover while supporting subpar starting pitching.

I also think the Pirates over at 3.5 runs at -131 is very much in play. Pittsburgh has scored fewer runs on the road but have hit two more home runs in one fewer game away from PNC Park.

Pick: Over 8.5 runs (bet to -130, with Pirates over 3.5 Runs as another option up to -135)

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