With the playoffs effectively off the table for both of these squads, the rest of the season is about pride, and learning what you have in your prospects. When you’re facing a division rival, the former of those two is an especially relevant factor, so both of these squads will be fighting hard to take home the win in Wednesday’s series finale. Let’s get into the odds for this weekday clash, where the prediction is over 9.5 runs, and a Cardinals win.
Cardinals vs. Pirates Prediction
With two games of this weekday series gone, the Pirates have already clinched the win, by virtue of two pretty convincing wins. Monday’s contest ended as a true blowout with a score of 11-1, while Tuesday was a bit closer at 6-3, but was 6-1 about midway through the game. No matter how the season has gone thus far, taking a sweep against a division rival, who is also nowhere near the playoffs, is not something you want to do, so the Cardinals will absolutely be highly motivated to win game three, and possibly begin turn around the current 1-6 skid in which they find themselves.
One fun wrinkle to this series is the Palacios brothers, Richie on the Cardinals and Joshua on the Pirates. This week has been their first time facing off at the MLB level, as they are just getting started in their MLB careers. It’s far from an unprecedented moment in the majors, we’ve even seen brothers play together as teammates, but it’s still a heartwarming one, and it has definitely injected some joy into what could potentially have been a somber chapter in what has become a lost season for both ballclubs.
Wednesday’s matchup features young starting pitchers on both sides who are in their second season of big league action. That being said, the results haven’t exactly been equal. St. Louis’s Zack Thompson has pitched relatively well, with an ERA just above 2.00 a year ago, and a bit below 4.00 this season, albeit mostly out of the bullpen. Luis Ortiz has posted an ERA in the mid-4’s for the Pirates each of the past two seasons, but most of his work has come as a starting pitcher, probably a tougher job. Still, in Thompson’s two starts this year, things have gone pretty well; he allowed a total of three earned runs in nine innings of work across those two outings.
There’s not too much of a track record for either of these guys, but it’s safe to say that the Cardinals have a slight pitching edge in this one, especially when you dig into Ortiz’s advanced metrics, among the worst in the bigs. With not much faith to place in either side’s pitching, and more offensive firepower than you might expect- St. Louis is fifth in the majors in OPS- it’s not hard to back the over in this one. For the result, we’re going to lean towards Thompson, not to mention St. Louis’s ability to avoid the sweep, and grab them on the moneyline.
Cardinals vs. Pirates Prediction: Cardinals ML (-122), o9.5 runs (-108)
Cardinals vs. Pirates Odds
The Cardinals are road favorites with -122 moneyline odds compared to +102 for the Pirates. With the scoring total set at 9.5, the over is -108 while the under is -112.
Cardinals vs. Pirates Key Matchups
Luis Ortiz vs. Cardinals Lefties
The righty Ortiz has been pretty good against other right-handers, but has been absolutely dominated by lefties with a similar sample size in terms of hitters faced. The good news for him is that he’s gotten incredibly lucky in terms of some key Cardinals lefties who will be out of the lineup due to injuries, fan favorite Lars Nootbaar, and power bat Nolan Gorman, both of whom are having breakout seasons at the plate.
With Nootbaar and Gorman out of the picture, the Cardinals don’t have too many lefty threats. Switch Hitter and leadoff man Tommy Edman has taken the majority of his hacks as a lefty, but is a stronger bat from the other side of the plate. There are two true lefties expected to be in the lineup, starting with Alec Burleson, who does the vast majority of his damage against righties. The other is the younger Palacios, Richie, who has only played six games for St. Louis so far but is ripping the ball early on. He hasn’t done much against righties thus far, but the sample size is still extremely small; against a guy like Ortiz, he has a chance to get into a groove.
Zack Thompson vs. On Base Threats
Thompson has done a fine job limiting home runs this season, but after some absolute lights-out work last year, his hits allowed are way up, while his walks climbed a little bit. He could be susceptible to hitters who do a good job getting on base, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem against a Pirates lineup ranked 21st in OBP, but there are definitely some guys who could give him trouble in spots.
The team OBP list is actually topped by Andrew McCutchen, who is having a seriously resurgent season in his second stint in Pittsburgh, a decade after he won an MVP with the team. He’s putting up a very solid mark of .373, well ahead of the next batter with a decent sample size. That hitter is Connor Joe, whose OBP is a respectable .342.
Prized acquisition Bryan Reynolds and team home run leader Jack Suwinski, who may or may not start against St. Louis, are up next with numbers right around .330, rounding out a group of solid on-base hitters for Pittsburgh. Even so, I think Thompson has the ability to work through this lineup and get a lot of outs, a major reason I have the Cardinals -122 moneyline in my Cardinals vs. Pirates prediction.
Cardinals vs. Pirates Starting Lineups
Cardinals Starting Lineup
2B T. Edman S
DH A. Burleson L
1B P. Goldschmidt R
3B N. Arenado R
C W. Contreras R
LF T. O’Neill R
CF R. Palacios L
RF J. Walker R
SS M. Winn R
Pirates Starting Lineup
2B J. Bae L
LF B. Reynolds S
DH A. McCutchen R
RF C. Joe R
C E. Rodriguez S
CF J. Palacios L
3B V. Capra R
1B A. Rivas L
SS A. Williams R