One of the 10 games on the Major League Baseball calendar for Monday will pit a pair of old NL Central rivals against one another. The St. Louis Cardinals, who are still looking to establish themselves as a bona fide contender in the National League, will welcome the rebuilding Pittsburgh Pirates to Busch Stadium.
A pair of young arms will go toe-to-toe in Monday’s series opener. Former top prospect Mitch Keller will take another turn for the visitors, while Zack Thompson gets a rare start for the Redbirds.
As you may have expected, Bovada’s oddsmakers like the Cardinals to win this one at home. St. Louis is listed as a heavy -180 moneyline favorite in a game with an over/under of 9.5 runs.
Keller was once billed as not only the Pirates’ top prospect, but one of the top young arms in all of baseball. Unfortunately, he has, to this point, failed to live up to the lofty expectations laid before him.
Keller is still 26, but that’s not exactly young anymore. And, thus far, the Pirates haven’t seen anything close to the level of consistency they may have hoped. Through 11 games this season, including nine starts, Keller is 2-5 with a 5.26 ERA. He posted a sub-3 ERA in five outings in the Covid-shortened 2020 campaign, but his career ERA of 5.85 certainly leaves plenty to be desired.
The Pirates demoted the right-hander to the bullpen back in May, and he has fared a bit better since being reinserted into the rotation. In his last two outings against the Dodgers and Tigers, Keller has yielded a total of just three earned runs on six hits in 11 innings.
In two starts against the Cardinals last season, Keller yielded a total of seven runs on 12 hits across just over 10 innings of work. St. Louis also posted a collective batting average of .300 against him.
St. Louis Cardinals
The Cardinals came up just shy of advancing to last year’s NL Division Series after a heartbreaking walk-off loss to the Dodgers in the Wild Card Game. St. Louis largely kept the band together over the winter, however, save for the surprise dismissal of manager Mike Shildt.
Entering Monday’s action, the 34-27 Cardinals hold a slight half-game lead over the struggling Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central. The Brewers are just 2-8 over their last 10 games and snapped an eight-game losing streak on Sunday in Washington. St. Louis, meanwhile, is treading water at 5-5 over their last 10 games.
The Cards took two of three over the weekend over the Reds after a three-game sweep at the hands of the Rays last week. St. Louis will be happy to see the struggling Pirates come to town, of course, while the Brewers will have their work cut out for them. Milwaukee will head to New York to begin a midweek series with the NL-leading Mets starting on Tuesday.
The Cardinals will turn to Zack Thompson, who is not to be confused with Pirates starter Zach Thompson. The Cardinals’ version is a 24-year-old lefty with a total of one game of MLB experience under his belt. Thompson allowed a run on three hits across four innings in his debut 10 days ago against the Cubs.
Thompson is ranked ninth on the Cardinals’ list of top prospects. The team’s 2019 first-round draft choice has been plagued by some control issues throughout his minor league career, but he issued just one walk in his debut at Wrigley Field.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals MLB Game Pick
Busch Stadium is generally thought of as a pitcher-friendly park, but Monday’s game between the Pirates and Cardinals features a fairly hefty 9.5-run total.
Given the quality of the pitchers in this one, it’s hard not to like the spot for both offenses. Keller is going to have a difficult time keeping the Cardinals under wraps, especially now that Tyler O’Neill is back after a lengthy stint on the injured list. All he’s done since making his return is hit .333/.346/.500 with a homer and six runs driven in.
The Pirates did just get swept in Atlanta, but their offense wasn’t completely dormant in that series. Pittsburgh’s lineup is also fairly heavy on right-handed batters, which should make things fairly tough on the Cardinals’ rookie southpaw in this one.
I think the over on 9.5 runs here is the play. It’s close, but you’re getting better value on this game turning into a shootout at still-favorable -110 odds.
Pittsburgh Pirates vs. St. Louis Cardinals Betting Recap
- Moneyline: Pirates +155, Cardinals -180
- Runline: Pirates +1.5 (-125), Cardinals -1.5 (+105)
- Over/Under: Over 9.5 runs (-110), Under 9.5 runs (-110)
- Pick: Over 9.5 runs (-110)