Pittsburgh Pirates +125 @ Toronto Blue Jays -145 (Total: 8.5)
Jeff Karstens (5-4, 2.66 ERA) vs. Brett Cecil (1-2, 6.86 ERA)
This is a pretty clear case of pitchers heading in opposite directions. Karstens has been fantastic in his last three starts, posting a 2-0 record and a 1.77 ERA. He has also been pitching deep into ballgames and keeping the Pirate bullpen fresh, pitching into the 7th inning of each game.
The Pirates have been playing well of late. They have won 5 of their last 7, and are starting to get fans legitimately convinced that this ballclub could possibly finish above .500 for the first time in nearly two decades. Their starting pitching has been a major reason why. Four of their five starters have ERAs below 4.00, and their fifth is too far behind.
For Toronto, these are the types of series they have to exploit if they are going to remain even an afterthought in the hyper-competitive AL East. Today is the rubber game of the three game series, and the Blue Jays are at a decisive pitching disadvantage on paper. Brett Cecil is young and has good stuff, but his introduction to the big leagues has been a relatively rocky one. He has posted a 6.88 ERA in his brief big league career, with a 7.37 ERA over his last three starts. He’ll be hoping to find his footing tonight against a less-than-daunting Pirate lineup.
It’s possible Cecil figures it out tonight, but I still like the value of getting a hot starting pitcher at plus-money odds. I like the Pirates tonight at +125.
St. Louis Cardinals -135 @ Baltimore Orioles +125 (Total: 8.5)
Jaime Garcia (6-3, 3.06 ERA) vs. Brian Matusz (1-3, 6.85 ERA)
It’s been a rough few weeks for the Cards. First the Pujols injury, and then the somewhat predictable losing streak. The Cardinals are just 5-12 over their last 17 games. The offense has struggled and the starting pitching has been somewhat suspect.
Fortunately, Jaime Garcia has been solid. Aside from one disastrous outing that tacked more than a full run onto his ERA, Garcia has been all-star caliber all season. He is 0-1 over his last three starts, but has posted a solid 2.45 ERA. The only issue has been the lack of run support.
Meanwhile, things haven’t been so pleasant for the Orioles Matusz. His last three starts have been a disaster, lasting just 11 innings total, and posting an ERA of 11.12. The Cardinals will be hoping he is just the recipe their ailing offense needs to get jump started.
The Orioles haven’t been setting the world on fire by any stretch, but they have played reasonably well in interleague play. However, just based on the pitching matchup tonight, you have to lean with the road team tonight, and take the Cardinals at a respectable -135.