While the Seattle Mariners and Detroit Tigers continue to spiral out of control, there is one team that has been trending upward, the Pittsburgh Pirates. It is tough to gauge how far the Pirates are going to make it at the end of the season, but they are enjoying their time right now on this big run. I suspect an exit in the Wild Card round for the Pirates again if I had to take a guess. Not the boldest prediction from me, because it is pretty Pirate like to pull something like that. I have said it for a couple years, but the Pirates need an additional bat behind Andrew McCutchen, who has been playing good baseball during the Pirates’ coming out party of 2015. Neil Walker just doesn’t cut it if they want to be contenders for the World Series. Their pitching staff is fairly strong, spearheaded by Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, AJ Burnett, and Charlie Morton have been rock solid. The one loose link in the Pirates’ rotation has been Jeff Locke. It is sad for the Pirates because Locke was looking like an up and comer with them, but he hasn’t been able to build off a good year in 2013. A strong season from Locke could have put the Pirates over the top.
The Atlanta Braves don’t figure to be much of big contenders in 2015 and have been the definition of average the past few seasons. Well, that is what the Braves are here this season again, average. They are 4-10 in their last ten games and have an overall record of 26-28 heading into today’s game against the Pirates. The Braves got outlasted with a 10-8 loss last night in game 1 of their weekend series. Last night was a good win for us, as the Giants were able to erase a 3-1 deficit and take down the Phillies 5-4. Tim Lincecum got hit early for 3 runs, but settled down from there and even connected on a double. We look for our third straight winner in Atlanta today.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Atlanta Braves
Jeff Locke (3-3, 5.34 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (4-2, 4.87 ERA)
Julio Teheran is in the same camp as Locke. A good season, actually for Teheran, he had a couple of good ones in a row before looking shaky this season. Still plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he has had some issues in 2015. Several bad starts has raised his ERA to 4.78, including a showing where he surrendered 8 runs two games ago. However, Teheran has been performing in Atlanta at home, a complete 180 from how he has played on the road. Note that Teheran posts 6.94 ERA on the road, but a 1.82 ERA at home with a 0.97 WHIP. Further, he has a pretty good history against the Pirates, posting a 2.80 ERA.
My problem isn’t Teheran in this game, but the Braves bullpen, which is one of the worst in the majors. They consistently blow games and give up runs late in games, which was on display once again last night. The Pirates’ offense has also been red hot lately, scoring over 5 runs per game in their last 10 games, and 6.5 a game during their four game winning stretch. The Pirates respond with Jeff Locke, who has been getting demolished on the road with a 9.35 ERA and 2.25 WHIP over 17 innings pitched. In his last three games, Locke posted a 5.17 ERA and 1.79 WHIP. The Braves offense has been hot as well despite losing three straight games. In those three they averaged 7.3 runs, but lost them all. In their last six games they’ve averaged 7.5 runs per game. I like some more runs tonight at a plus price of +106.
PICK: OVER 8 RUNS (+106)