ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (71-58)
at PITSBURGH PIRATES (69-60)
First pitch: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. EDT
Line: St. Louis -120, Pittsburgh +110, Total: 8Ĺ
In the NL Centralís dogfight for second place and standings in the NL Wild Card, the Pirates will host the Cardinals for the rubber game of a three-game set Wednesday night.
Lefty Wandy Rodriguez takes the hill for the Pirates in this one as the loser of three straight games, a span in which he has a 5.89 ERA with a 1.64 WHIP. Although he has a 4.06 ERA as a starter this season, with a 7-13 record, that ERA balloons to 4.86 in his six games (five starts, one relief outing) since being traded from the Astros to the Pirates. On Wednesday, he faces Joe Kelly, who has also struggled lately with a 4.76 ERA and 1.77 WHIP in his past three outings, despite earning a 2-1 record in this span. Overall, he is in the middle of a solid season though with a 3.41 ERA and 3-5 record in 12 starts. He will ride a hot Cardinals squad that has won six of its past eight games. In the same span, the Pirates have lost six of eight. And the Cardinals should remain hot facing a southpaw, against whom they are 27-12 (.692) this season. As only slight favorites, take ST. LOUIS in this one.
This rare five-star FoxSheets trend also favors the UNDER:
ST. LOUIS is 20-3 UNDER (87.0%, +14.5 Units) in road games vs. an NL team with a team batting average of .250 or worse this season. The average score was ST LOUIS 3.9, OPPONENT 3.2 - (Rating = 5*).
The Cardinals average a whopping 6.1 runs per game against left-handed starters, hitting an incredible .297 with a .362 OBP. Overall, they average 4.9 runs per game, which leads the National League. Kelly, who has never started against Pittsburgh, averages just 5.7 innings per start so he and the subpar Cards bullpen certainly needs that offensive firepower. The St. Louis relievers have a 3.99 ERA on the season and have already blown 16 saves. On the road, this ERA is even worse at 4.61. But given the offensive support they should get here, take the Redbirds.
This will be an important rubber match for the Pirates, who have protected their home field all season with a 39-26 (.600) record there. They have also done well by regularly beating NL Central opponents, against whom they are 32-23 (.582). Rodriguez has yet to face the Cardinals this season, but has won two consecutive decisions against them, carrying a stellar 1.33 ERA and 1.03 WHIP in this three-start span. Overall though, Rodriguez is 6-11 (team 8-12) with a 3.72 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 20 career starts versus St. Louis. Fortunately for him, he is supported by one of baseballís best bullpens that carry a 2.96 ERA and 42 saves in 51 chances (82.4%) in 2012. Pirates relievers are even better at home with a 2.75 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.