What a great summer it is turning out to be for betting on baseball. We took Sunday off but managed to bink another money line underdog (+125) on Saturday night when the Oakland Athletics came from behind in the ninth to give us our eighth win in our last nine bets and ran our record to 15-6 in the month of July. That is over 71% winners this month! Even single unit bettors are up over nine full units during this summer hot streak. We will try and keep that momentum alive tonight as we head to Pittsburgh where the Pirates host their division rivals, the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals are in Pittsburgh Monday to face a familiar foe, the Pirates. These two teams matched up last week in St. Louis for a three-game set that saw the Cards take two out of three games. The Cardinals have been all over the place this season, but they are playing good baseball right now as they have won seven out of their last nine games.
For the Pirates, they have really struggled since the All-Star break, and have lost seven out of their last nine contests. Many speculated whether or not the Pirates would be buying or selling at the trade deadline, but with this recent skid, those questions are now answered as they are clearly out of contention at this point and you can expect them to ship some key pieces away any day.
Starting for the Pirates is Trevor Williams (3-3 5.17 ERA) and for the Cardinals, it is Daniel Ponce de Leon (1-0 2.80 ERA). The game total over-under is set at nine and a half runs. The Cardinals are slight -110 road favorites. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM PST from PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
Are the Cardinals in contention? Are the Cardinals out? It seems like the answer changes nearly daily at this point. St. Louis had the best record in the game after the season’s first forty or so games, then went on a brutal slump, and now seem to have the ship righted again post All-Star break. Luckily for St. Louis, the Cubs and Brewers are having similar struggles atop the NL Central standings, so they haven’t lost much ground. Entering play tonight, the Cards are just two and a half games back of the first-place Cubs in the central.
St. Louis managed to take two out of three from the Pirates last week, and that series loss dealt a devastating blow to the Pirate’s playoff chances. If St. Louis can win this four-game series in Pittsburg this week, just days before the trade deadline, it would all but end the Pirates season. The Cardinals will send out starter Daniel Ponce de Leon tonight in game one.
Ponce de Leon was enjoying a successful campaign two seasons ago in the minors before he took a line drive to the head that resulted in season-ending brain surgery. He missed thirteen months rehabbing the injury, and many thought he would never pitch again. He made it all the way back last season and posted some solid results for a rookie. He had an ERA of just 2.73 in eleven appearances.
He missed most of this season as was added back to the Cardinals rotation to replace the ever-struggling Michael Wacha in mid-June. Ponce de Leon has made eight appearances so far this season, with five of those coming as starts. In his last start, against these very same Pirates last week, Ponce de Leon struggled as he got blasted for four runs in just three and two-thirds of an inning worked. Before last week’s rough outing against Pittsburgh, Ponce de Leon had allowed just one run in his previous three appearances, spanning eleven and a third innings.
Trevor Williams seems to be a likely trade candidate for Pittsburgh this year. The market is starved of starting pitching, and a guy like Williams would net decent returns. The problem for Pittsburgh is that he can’t stop getting lit up right now. It is hard to trade a guy that has an ERA of nearly ten runs in his last four starts.
Williams missed time with an injury and since returning has been absolutely awful. He has pitched a total of twenty-two and two-thirds of an inning and has gotten hammered for twenty-four runs, including eight home runs. Williams is starting tonight as his last start was pushed back due to illness, so he will not be on his standard routine.
How can you not like a bet against Trevor Williams right now? The guy is in absolute freefall, and I see him getting roughed up tonight. I don’t have all that much more confidence in Ponce de Leon, but to be honest, this bet is much more about fading Williams than it is backing Ponce de Leon.
The Cardinals are clearly the better overall team. They struggled in the middle of the season but are playing well now that they have their best players back and healthy. I think that they take three out of four from Pittsburgh this week and knock the Pirates out of the playoff race for good. That starts tonight in game one.
The Cardinals have struggled on the road, so that gives me a little bit of pause, but getting the opportunity to back them at basically even money is too much value to pass up on. And it’s not like the Pirates have been some giant killers at home, they are just 23-23 at PNC Park this season. So, I will back the much hotter team, laying just a little bit of wood, and feel like I am the prohibitive favorite tonight. Give me the St. Louis Cardinals at -110 tonight in game one from Pittsburgh!