MLB schedules are certainly completely out of whack these days as it seems everyday is littered with double-headers.
After a trio of boycotts on last night’s schedule, that’s indeed the case, but this matchup between the Pirates and Cardinals is part of a make-up double-header from earlier in the season when the Cardinals were sidelined for an extended period of time.
Nonetheless, let’s hop right in and take a look at this NL Central matchups featuring the Pirates vs. Cardinals in game two of their double-header from St. Louis!
Season Record: 15-8
Pirates vs. Cardinals Betting Odds
- Pirates (+144)
- Cardinals (-156)
- Pirates +1.5 (-160)
- Cardinals -1.5 (+140)
- Over 7 (-115)
- Under 7 (-105)
Pirates vs. Cardinals MLB Pick Breakdown
For game two of the twin bill, the Pirates will send opener Cody Ponce to the mound in what will mark his third outing of the season after he made a pair of relief appearances for the team this season.
In his tiny 3.1-inning sample, he’s posted a 5.40 ERA/10.06 FIP as he’s yielded two earned runs – each on a solo homer – with one walk in three strikeouts in that time. All of that damage came in a three-inning relief appearance way back on August 6.
Ponce spent last season split between Double-A in both the Brewers’ and Pirates’ organizations before heading to Triple-A for an 18.2-inning sample in which he pitched to a 5.30 ERA/5.39 FIP. He was far better in 38.1 innings with the Brewers’ Double-A affiliate, turning in a 3.29 ERA/2.59 FIP before being moved to Pittsburgh.
While it will be a bullpen game for the Pirates, the Cardinals will send a starer to the mound for this one as right-hander Johan Oviedo gets the call in this one.
Oviedo most recently pitched five innings of two-run ball, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out four in a no-decision against the Cubs.
This comes on the heels of a 2019 season in which the big righty worked to a 5.65 ERA/4.13 FIP in 113 innings at the Double-A level last season. While he generated strikeouts at a quality 10.19 K/9 clip, Oviedo struggled greatly with his command in the form of a 5.10 BB/9 while he’s also displayed control issues throughout the remainder of his minor-league tenure.
There hasn’t been a worse offense in baseball than the Pirates this season, especially against right-handed pitching.
The Pirates enter this one ranked dead last by a mile with a .249 wOBA on the season versus right-handers while their 5.9% walk rate, .567 OPS and .114 ISO against them is the worst mark in the league as well.
Most recently, the Pirates’ offense scored three runs in a blowout loss yesterday to the White Sox, but they also were no-hit by Lucas Giolito on Tuesday night.
Only the Cardinals have scored fewer runs than the Bucs this season, however that’s only because they have played six fewer games. The Pirates’ 4.04 runs per game mark is the worst in baseball.
While the Cardinals’ 4.35 runs per game is the superior number of the two in this matchup, they have been fairly average at the plate this season.
We’ll speak to their offense as a whole as Ponce won’t be going deep at all in this one.
The Cardinals rank 16th with a .320 wOBA on the season. For comparison, the Astros’ supposed high-octane offense comes in one spot higher with a .322 wOBA.
They’ve struggled to hit for power, however, as their .135 ISO ranks 26th in the league, but they’ve managed to mitigate that loss with their patience at the plate in the form of a sixth-ranked 11% walk rate.
While we won’t know the lineups for this one of yet, there’s no doubt the offensive advantage is with the home side here.
It’s been a tough all-round season in Pittsburgh and the bullpen as been no exception.
The Bucs’ bullpen enters this one sporting a 22nd-ranked 5.31 ERA on the season, but some of their numbers point towards some positive regression, although not all of them.
The Pirates’ bullpen also ranks 16th with a 4.42 FIP and sixth with a 10.01 clip, but the negatives also include a 26th-ranked 5.08 BB/9 and 22nd-ranked 4.82 xFIP.
Additionally, this is going to be a tired bullpen in the second game of a double-header. With the double-header in mind, manager Derek Shelton allowed Trevor Williams to stay in the game and get shelled for eight runs in six innings yesterday.
Still, there will be presumably be some unavailable arms in this one tonight.
On a day the Cardinals placed left-hander Andrew Miller on the Injured List, the Cardinals are now without a key back-end reliever.
Their bullpen has been great on the surface with a 3.61 ERA on the season, but caution looms as they also rank 21st with a 4.69 FIP and 19th with a 4.66 xFIP. Additionally, their .190 BABIP against is certainly due to regress, especially considering the 44.9% hard contact they’ve surrendered, good for 25th in the league.
Finally, their 40.9% fly-ball rate allowed is cause for concern, and combined with the elevated hard contact allowed, I would expect their 1.37 HR/9 rate to get even worse moving forward.
Pirates vs. Cardinals MLB Pick Breakdown
To me, this is a really low total.
Sure, the Pirates are the worst offense in the league versus right-handed pitching, but Oviedo was not good at Double-A last season and he walked a ton of hitters. Again, the Pirates rank last in walk rate versus righties, but I personally don’t have a ton of faith in Oviedo to keep runners off the basepaths in this one.
On the Cardinals side, it should be noted that their .348 wOBA on offense over the last week ranks seventh in baseball. The power still hasn’t been there, but they’ve gotten on base a ton of late.
That is important because of the 26th-ranked 5.08 BB/9 from a Pirates bullpen that will be used a lot in this one, and it’s going to be a tired group.
Like Oviedo, Pone wasn’t any special in the minors last season and he was roughed up in his most recent big-league appearance before being sent down.
I can see the Cardinals hopping all over Ponce and the Pirates’ bullpen in this one while I am not ruling out the Pirates getting to Oviedo and a Cardinals bullpen that is due for regression to be sure.
Add it up and I’ll gladly take dead aim at that low seven-run total and hit the over this evening from St. Louis.