The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates series kicking off tonight is one of a marquee matchup just before the All-Star break. The Cardinals were able to salvage a win yesterday in their three game meeting with the Cubs in Chicago. The Cubs may have taken two of three from the Cards, but we’ll see who is going to be celebrating more in October. The Cubs have had the best team they’ve had in years, and their future is promising, but I still think today the Cards are the team to beat. I can tell you one thing, the All-Star Game isn’t taken seriously by a lot of players, but I see it as a big game for the Cardinals. They are above and beyond the best home team in the major leagues, with a home record of 28-15 compared to 23-19 on the road. If they make the World Series, having home field advantage is going to benefit them vastly. So as you watch Cardinal fans, don’t take this game too lightly, and hopefully the players on the National League squad don’t either.
They take on the Pirates today, who are one of those teams that people keep asking the same question, are they for real? Real as in ready to take a step forward in the postseason. Barring some disaster in the second half of the season, the Pirates will be in, and most likely have better than a Wild Card spot. They have the 3rd best pitching staff in the majors and the only problem for the greater part of the season has been Jeff Locke. However, he has shown glimpses of the way he was playing for them in previous seasons. A slow end to the season last year and then a slow start, but he is beginning to hit his stride as we near the All-Star break.
Not much to really say about the pick last night. As I say with pushes, it could have been better, but it could have been worse as well. We weren’t able to get a late run to hit the bet, however, no harm done with a push. We’re back on the grind Thursday night.
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Carlos Martinez (9-3, 2.70 ERA) vs. Jeff Locke (5-4, 4.15 ERA)
Like I said, Jeff Locke started off extremely slow. His ERA isn’t indicative of how he has been pitching of late, though. A few earlier starts has skewed his ERA northward of a 4.00 ERA, but Locke hasn’t allowed more than 2 runs in six starts. In his last three starts, all at home, Locke looked masterful, pitching a 1.59 ERA. In Locke’s last start he didn’t allow any runs at all. On the season he has been drastically better at home than he has on the road. Note that he has a 2.64 ERA at home, contrasted to a 7.28 ERA on the road. That is quite the discrepancy.
The Cardinals have been slow to introduce Carlos Martinez as a fulltime starter in the rotation. For the last two seasons he had spot duty. However, in his first full year at the major league level, Martinez has embraced it and taken advantage of the opportunity. Posting a 2.70 ERA on the season, Martinez yielded an ERA of 2.29 in his last three starts. He hasn’t given up greater than 3 runs in eleven starts, and that has only happened twice this season. Additionally, he allowed just a run in each of his last two outings. Look for a low scoring affair, which leads me to believe a play on the UNDER 7 looks good.
PICK: UNDER 7 RUNS (-110)