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Pirates at Astros – Free Pick July 26th

Pittsburgh Pirates -155 at Houston Astros +145 (Total: 8.5)

AJ Burnett  (11-3, 3.59 ERA) vs. Dallas Kuechel (1-2, 4.03 ERA)

It is tough to predict anything in baseball with absolute certainty, but I have a prediction I am very confident you can take to the bank about tonight’s game:  Francisco Cordero won’t be getting the ball tonight for the Houston Astros.  The newly acquired “closer” has suffered losses in back-to-back nights, blowing leads in the ninth inning in each game and BOTH times having to be be pulled before recording the third out.  Perhaps the long-time Red thought he was still pitching for Cincinnati?  Either way, the pair of BP fastballs he lofted Drew Stubbs on consecutive nights made a hero out of Stubbs, and losers out of the Astros.

Such is the life in Houston these days, where they own the worst record in all of baseball, and continue to flounder in the midst of a two month stretch of games where they have gone just 12-40.  That’s under .250 baseball – and if you projected it out over an entire season they would establish the modern record for most losses in a season.  Not pretty.

And now enter the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They have beaten the Astros six of seven times this season and have outscored them 35-18 in the process.  Tonight they throw their best pitcher AJ Burnett against a guy named Dallas who’d probably rather be pitching IN Dallas looking at the run support he has gotten!  For a young rookie, he hasn’t pitched poorly.  He’s given them 26 innings pitched over his five outings and posted an ERA right around 4.00.  Yet the team is 1-4 in those games, and Dallas himself just 1-2.

AJ Burnett has been fantastic for the Bucs, at 11-3 with a 3.59 ERA he has anchored an unheralded yet effective pitching staff and kept them near the top of the standings a year.  Of course it doesn’t help t have Andrew McCutchen on your roster, who is emerging as the runaway NL MVP with a .369 batting average and 22 HRs.   In the seven games against the Astros this season McCutchen is hitting .481 with 13 hits in seven games.  That sounds like trouble for the beleaguered Astros who have lost 22 of 24 games entering tonight’s four game set with Pittsburgh.

I like Pittsburgh, and I don’t think -155 is too steep a price to pay.  Looking at the run differential in this season series, as well as the pitching matchup, I am doubling up tonight and also taking Pittsburgh -1.5 at +105.

Free Pick:  Pittsburgh Pirates to WIN -155, Pittsburgh -1.5 (+105)