Things didn’t go as planned last night, as we were most certainly right about the Cubs getting a win, but they did not top the -1.5 Run Line we liked. I really don’t get how the Cubs couldn’t have put on more of a show at home against Homer Bailey, but hopefully you at least took the free money and placed a straight up bet in their favor.
Tonight we get a smaller main slate to work with in the majors, which turns our focus to the value that stands out the most. That comes to us via a fun NL Central clash in PNC Park, where the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates will face off.
The division rivals both remain somewhat in the mix for the division crown, but both are working their way in the wrong direction, with the Cards losing three straight and the Pirates losing each of their last four games.
Something obviously has to break here and at first glance, Vegas thinks it goes Pittsburgh’s way. The logic there is tough to deny, as the Pirates are a solid 32-26 at home and have a talented pitcher taking the mound. Of course, the Cardinals had been one of the hottest teams in baseball before their recent rut, which actually snapped a crazy 7-game winning streak.
Should we stay on the St. Louis bandwagon and take the value with the Cardinals, back the Pirates at home or attack a playable Total? Let’s dig deeper to find out:
St. Louis Cardinals (+116) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (-136) Total: 9
Adam Wainwright (12-5, 4.87 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (7-5, 4.50 ERA)
I can see a case for any bet in this spot, but only one really stands out. It won’t be the Total, as this is a pitcher park with viable pitching, but we also get a red hot St. Louis offense. Those points could all combat each other and it’s not a situation I want to mess with. I also can’t take the Pirates with this line. They’re favored and there is some logic to that, but where is the value?
St. Louis is red hot – save for their last three games – and we get really nice value here. It’s not like they’re facing Gerrit Cole, can’t score runs and don’t have a solid pitcher of their own. They’re in a perfectly fine spot and have been in better overall form than the Pirates.
It’s not always the best idea to bet on Wainwright when he’s pitching on the road, but he’s improved in that area as the year has gone on. Over his last three road starts, Wainwright has allowed just 7 total runs and given up just 14 hits. He seems to be very much in control in general since returning from a back issue. His first game back saw him shake off some rust, but in the five starts since, he’s proven to be an elite game manager.
Wainwright isn’t exactly seeing a terrible park shift here, either. PNC Park isn’t Coors Field, after all. Wainwright still gets a great pitching environment that limits the long ball and the Pirates – as much as they’ve improved – still aren’t the scariest offense in the world.
We know Wainwright can handle them for two reasons; he did just that earlier this year (2 hits, 1 run in 7 innings) and he’s survived matchups with the Reds and Cubs on the road recently. That’s way more power than the Pirates tend to dish out, so on the surface, Wainwright probably isn’t in too much trouble.
If you need further proof, the numbers on the year help us here, as the Pirates rank 28th in home runs and 25th in batting average against right-handed pitching.
I don’t hate Wainwright here, so the only trick is to gauge if we can trust the Cardinals against Jameson Taillon. The 25-year old righty has been sharp lately, as he’s notched 15 strikeouts and allowed just two runs over his last two starts.
There are several problems with backing Taillon in this spot, however. The big one is his lack of success against St. Louis in 2017 (4.91 ERA in two starts), while he inexplicably is worse at home (.306 batting average allowed, 3-3 with a 4.88 ERA) than on the road. The biggest issues is that Taillon has shown some blow up potential recently, having given up a whopping 17 runs in a two-game stretch in late July. He could be past that, and his recent form would suggest that, but we need to worry about that with a talented and grooving Cardinals offense coming to town.
Taillon could be fine in a game that is more likely to hit the Under in a conservative park. However, Wainwright has been the pitcher we can trust more lately and St. Louis is the team packing the offensive firepower right now. Both of these teams have hit a wall and both have solid pitching on the mound in a pitcher’s park. In what otherwise feels more like a pick’em, I prefer the better team that not only has been playing well, but also offers way more betting value.