Cardinals vs. Pirates Pick MLB – Sept 7th

The Giants got a few late runs to get a desperately needed victory over the Rockies, but the general offensive struggles are far from in the rear-view mirror as they STILL only mustered three runs in the launching pad of Coors Field.  The 3-2 win kept them WELL under our run total threshold for another easy sweat-free winner.  The win runs my record to 6-1-1 ATS over the last week with a nice +180 underdog in the mix, so hopefully we can keep building some good momentum as we approach the Playoffs.

Speaking of Playoffs, things are still real interesting in the NL Wildcard chase.  The Giants got a much-needed win yesterday to keep their narrow half-game lead over the Cardinals for the top wildcard spot.  The surging Cardinals have dealt two gut-punches to the Pirates who are now 5.5 games back and can be all but eliminated with a series sweep completion tonight on ESPN.  The Marlins are similarly all-but-dead, leaving basically three teams for two spots.  The Mets, despite an insane rash of injuries, are still right in the race at just a single game back of the Cardinals and they have Noah Syndergaard looking to complete a series sweep of the Reds this afternoon….

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Today’s Free Pick:

St Louis Cardinals +120 at Pittsburgh Pirates -125 (Total: 7.5)

Mike Leake (9-9, 4.56 ERA) vs. Jameson Taillon (3-4, 3.25 ERA)

It’s asking a lot of standout rookie Jameson Taillon tonight, “hey, we need you to save our season rook, cool?”  Taillon has been good since coming up to the majors and has handled the pressure of being thrust into an ace role for a flagging team with aplomb, but derailing the Redbird Express tonight could be a challenge.  The Cardinals have homered in 25 straight games, are getting healthy at the right time, and are once again getting a massive late-season lift from Yadier Molina.

Taillon has delivered quality starts in nine of his last ten games, and with the exception of two starts ago against Milwaukee (5 ER, 3 IP) he hasn’t had a BAD outing as a professional.  In short, he has been everything the Pirates could have hoped for.  So “fading” Taillon isn’t a great strategy in general.  Sure, he is only 3-4 personally, but the Pirates are 7-3 in his last ten outings, and again, he has delivered nearly EVERY time he has gotten the ball.

But I think two things are going against him tonight; the gravity of the situation and more importantly, the momentum of the Cardinals.  Mike Leake has been hit or miss all year, but I don’t think he will have to be flawless tonight to get a W.  He should be well-rested after spending two weeks on the DL and makes his fresh return tonight.

It’s counter-intuitive for sure – Taillon has only allowed 19 runs in his last ten starts, but the plus-money potential of the surging Cardinals has me hooked.  Yesterday’s dramatic comeback ninth inning homerun barrage was a DEVESTATING loss for Pittsburgh, effectively ending their season.  I like a slight hangover today and a mild upset with the Cards completing the sweep.

Today’s Free Pick:  St Louis Cardinals to WIN +120