The Pittsburgh Pirates are hoping to rebound Saturday from a season-opening 5-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, which already sets them back in the NL Central.
One silver lining to come from Opening Day was how Pittsburgh hung tough down the stretch, rallying for two runs in the ninth before falling short. St. Louis has won 15 of the past 20 meetings between these clubs, though, so the Pirates have lots of recent history to overcome.
Check out abe Insights' betting preview below, where we crunch the numbers, provide you with the best odds available and offer incisive analysis of the prospective wagers.
Date: Saturday, July 25
Time: 2:15 p.m. ET
TV: MLB Network
Implied Probabilities: Pirates 42%; Cardinals 59%
Spread: PIT +1.5 (-145); STL -1.5 (+125)
Moneyline: PIT +140; STL -143
Cardinals skipper Mike Shildt was NL Manager of the Year in his maiden campaign. His adversary in the opposite dugout, first-time MLB skipper Derek Shelton, certainly has his work cut out from a tactical standpoint.
Adam Wainwright gets the nod on the mound for St. Louis, and he'll square off against Trevor Williams. There aren't any notable injuries to speak of, so each starter will have their hands full.
.319 vs. .303: These initial dual figures are from 2019 and represent opponents' batting average on balls in play for Wainwright and Williams. The former was eighth-highest among qualified pitchers, while Williams would've been 20th (he pitched 145.2 innings).
.245 vs. .292: The totals here are the overall opponent batting average for the respective starting pitchers when these teams met last season. Wainwright clearly had an easier time retiring batters, though it's worth noting Williams registered a solid 1.50 ERA in two starts.
75.8 vs. 68.9: One big area St. Louis' pitchers had an upper hand this past year was left-on-base percentage (LOB%). Williams' success was therefore an anomaly, as he yielded 14 hits in 12 innings during the aforementioned contests against the Cardinals.
It's worth zeroing in on the pitchers here, because Wainwright has a strong track record versus Pittsburgh, yet Williams has had St. Louis' number of late. And that sterling form the Pirates pitcher enjoyed was fleeting in 2019, when he logged a 7-9 record and 5.38 ERA.
Despite a distinguished and decorated career, Wainwright isn't near the same thrower he once was. The 38-year-old veteran's skill set has steadily regressed over the past four seasons, and he simply hasn't had the same stuff. It happens.
This fact should give Pittsburgh some hope of making up ground on the reigning NL Central champions. Between the resurgent Reds, the Cubs' talented core and the Christian Yelich-led Brewers, this division is not messing around, so it's vital for the Pirates to seize momentum back or risk falling to the standings' cellar again.
Both offenses are solid if not spectacular, and lacking in long-ball prowess. Pittsburgh hits far more for average than power; its 163 home runs a year ago ranked 27th. First baseman Josh Bell (37 homers, 116 RBI in 2019) is the only surefire threat in that regard.
The Cardinals boast more depth in terms of the ability to go yard. Bell's St. Louis counterpart, Paul Goldschmidt, had 34 homers last season, shortstop Paul DeJong rattled off 30 of his own and second baseman Kolten Wong notched 29. Even with that high-octane infield, however, Saturday's hosts were 24th in home runs last year.
A compelling case can be made for the moneyline on either side. Pittsburgh is the clear value bet here. On the other hand, only five teams had more home victories than the Cardinals in the prior season.
Action should be rather even on the outright winners, with the Cardinals' -143 getting a slight edge due to a still-solid payout for the home favorite. Given that St. Louis won by one run on Friday, it stands to reason another victory won't be by the slimmest of margins again, likely enticing gamblers to err on the side of -1.5 at +125 for the Cards.
Despite both starting pitchers being solid in recent matchups and the lack of dingers between these two clubs, look for more wagers to go on the Over 9. The Pirates have two surefire .300 hitters atop the order in Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman to set the tone, and the Cards' power trio is equipped to play catch-up if need be.
Note: Odds current as of 10:05 a.m. ET on Saturday, July 25.
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