Pirates vs. Giants Pick MLB – August 22nd

Yesterday was a nice day, picking up two wins and running a nice little recent streak to four of my last five.  We will try to keep it going today, despite a pretty limited schedule across MLB.  There are a few great matchups today, starting with Paul Maholm making his return from the DL to help the Braves kick off a great four game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.  The Braves can all but start setting their rotation for October, while the Cardinals are in a three-team dog fight in the NL Central, but there is still a very real chance these two teams could meet once again in the postseason, so I expect this series to be pretty intense.

I’m staying away from tonight’s opener, as I’m not really sure what to expect from Maholm – it could go dramatically either way, but instead I’m taking the winning streak to the Bay Area for a big high-profile pitching matchup.

Today’s Free Pick:

Pittsburgh Pirates +116 at San Francisco Giants -123 (Total: 7)

Jeff Locke (9-4, 2.90 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (8-8, 4.35 ERA)

What happened to Matt Cain this season?  One of the most steady and reliable big-time pitchers in baseball over the last five years has never been able to settle into a consistent groove this season, and much like his Giants team as a whole, has endured one of his toughest season of his career.  The defending World Series Champions enter tonight’s game 14 games under .500 and in DEAD LAST in the NL West, 15.5 games out of first.

Cain has looked a little better in his last three outings, posting a 3.00 ERA and a nice 0.76 WHIP, however he is just 1-2 in those games.  It stays right in line with his season output, where he has gotten just 3.6 runs in support, yet allowed a whopping 4.8 runs against.

Jeff Locke was an All-Star this season and the ace of the feel-good Pirates staff, but he appears to have hit a bit of a wall recently.  He is 0-1 in his last three starts with a 7.71 ERA and a WHIP of 2.23.  That’s astronomical, and it may not be an anomaly.  Since the All-Star Break things have been consistently bad.  He is just 1-2 with a 5.58 ERA but even more troubling is his .325 opponent’s batting average.  He is getting hit and he is getting hit hard.

It makes today’s run total of 7 seem a little low to me.

In the last four games between these two teams have tallied 55 runs and no less than ten in a single game.  I like the high scoring to continue tonight.

Free Pick:  Run TOTAL OVER 7