ST. LOUIS CARDINALS
at PITTSBURGH PIRATES
First pitch: Friday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Line: St. Louis -130, Pittsburgh +110, Total: 8.0
The Cardinals will be hoping to earn a big victory over the Pirates in Pittsburgh on Friday.
Both the Cardinals and the Pirates are currently doing everything they can to win the NL Central right now. The Cubs and Brewers are ahead of both teams at the moment, but nobody is really pulling away from the rest of the pack. The Pirates, however, are in danger of falling a bit too far behind in this series. They are the only team of the four that is under .500 and a loss in this three-game series against the Cardinals would really hurt their chances of crawling back into this race. Having said that, there are still a lot of games to be played and they’ll have a few more opportunities to face the teams that are ahead of them in the coming weeks. The starters in this Friday night matchup are going to be RHP Carlos Martinez (9-9, 3.56 ERA, 165 K) for St. Louis and RHP Trevor Williams (5-5, 4.19 ERA, 83 K) for Pittsburgh. The Cardinals certainly have the edge on the mound on paper, but it’s not a very significant one. It wouldn’t be surprising if Williams found a way to outduel Martinez, but it also wouldn’t be surprising if this weren’t a pitcher’s duel at all. Both teams could very well put a ton of runs on the scoreboard in this one, which would make for one exciting game.
The Cardinals are still fighting for a playoff spot, but they’re going to need to find a way to overcome both the Cubs and Brewers in the coming weeks. And while the team certainly has talent, it also has to find a way to stop blowing leads late. The Cardinals have been plagued by their bullpen all year, and they need to find a way to win close games moving forward. As for the starting pitcher in this one, Martinez will be hoping to shut the Pirates down. He allowed just two earned runs in seven innings against the Pirates on Jul. 16, but the Cardinals lost that game. Still, St. Louis would be ecstatic if he were to pitch like that again on Friday. On offense, C Yadier Molina (.274 BA, 14 HR, 55 RBI) is a name to keep an eye on in this one. Molina has had some success against Trevor Williams in his career, as he is 2-for-7 with two doubles against the righty. It would be big for the Cardinals if he were to come through at the plate here. 1B Matt Carpenter (.248 BA, 15 HR, 57 RBI) has also hit Williams hard, as he is 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI against him.
The last time Trevor Williams faced the Cardinals was on Jul. 16, when the righty allowed only one earned run in 5.2 innings of work. Williams struck out five batters in that game, but he also gave up nine hits. If he lets St. Louis hit him around like that again then it’s very likely that Pittsburgh will not be able to overcome it. He’ll need to do a better job of avoiding contact on Friday. On offense, OF Starling Marte (.256 BA, 2 HR, 12 RBI) is a guy that could come through for the Pirates on Friday. He is 11-for-22 with two doubles and three RBI against Martinez in his career. He also happens to be finding his groove right now, so he should be confident when he gets to the plate on Friday. He has gotten two hits in each of the past three games now, which is nothing to ignore heading into this one.