The St. Louis Cardinals (92-66) will host the Pittsburgh Pirates (59-99) on Sunday. This will be the third game of a six-game series taking place in two different locations. The first three games were played in St. Louis and following this game, they will meet three more times in Pittsburgh to end the season. The season series has been one-sided with the Cardinals winning 11 of the first 14. The Cardinals won the first two games of the series.
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Looks like 100 losses are comingThe Pirates had their three-game winning streak snapped on Friday with the 2-1 loss to St. Louis. Then they lost 13-3 on Saturday. The Pirates now cannot afford to lose any more of their final four games if they want to avoid 100 losses, a fate that will be hard to avoid as the Pirates are just 4-11 in their last 15 games.
The young Pirates are scheduled to start rookie Roansy Contreras (5-5, 3.72 ERA) who has had a nice season. In 10 road games, Contreras is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA, but in day games he is 2-0 with a 1.95 ERA in seven appearances. In three games against the Cardinals this season Contreras is 1-0 with a 4.76 ERA. On offense, the Pirates' standout performer this season has been Bryan Reynolds with a .260 batting average, 26 home runs, and 60 RBI. The team around him has struggled, ranking 27th scoring 3.6 runs per game, 29th with a .221 batting average, and 18th with 155 home runs.
Wainwright to make last regular season startThe St. Louis Cardinals want to stay sharp, but there isn't anything they can do to change their short-term fate. St. Louis has clinched the NL Central and will face the final wild card team which could be either San Diego, Philadelphia or Milwaukee.
The Cardinals are 10-10 over their last 20 games and are getting to the finish line looking to stay healthy. The offense has been strong all year, ranking sixth with 4.7 runs scored per game and seventh with 194 home runs. The St. Louis pitching staff is ninth with a 3.75 ERA as a team and fifth picking up 7.6 strikeouts per game. Paul Goldschmidt (.319 AVG, 35 HR, 114 RBI) and Nolan Arenado (.293 AVG, 30 HR, 101 RBI) have led the way with 7.9 WARs, along with Tommy Edman who has a 6.0 WAR and 31 stolen bases.
The 41-year-old legend Adam Wainwright (11-11, 3.51 ERA) will make the start on Sunday. Against the Pirates this season, Wainwright is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA. At home Wainwright is 7-3 with a 2.61 ERA in 17 games.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
Adam Wainwright has had a strong season, but he would like to see things turn around before the postseason as he has a 6.38 ERA over his last five starts. It is worth mentioning that Wainwright's last two starts were on the road against the Dodgers and Padres, two teams the Cardinals could face down the line in the postseason. There is no better team Wainwright could be facing on Sunday, as he is a perfect 7-0 with a 0.55 ERA in his last seven starts against Pittsburgh going back to 2020. On the other side, although Contreras has been solid this year, the Pirates have also been more conservative with his pitch count down the stretch. So even if Contreras does well, he is likely to see an early hook that will bring the Pirates bullpen into this game. The Pirates bullpen ranks 29th in MLB with a 4.82 ERA, and with a motivated Wainwright and potent St. Louis lineup on the other side, take St. Louis to win this game by at least two runs.
Full-Game Total Pick
As mentioned, I expect Adam Wainwright to have a strong outing here and he has flat-out owned the Pirates over the past three seasons. Wainwright also does not want to go into the postseason without any positive momentum, and with his experience, it will be a rough night at the dish for Pittsburgh. I would be surprised if the Pirates scored more than two runs, which means the Cardinals will need to do the heavy lifting. The Cardinals' offense has struggled as of late, ranking 27th scoring 2.8 runs per game, which make the over hard to trust. I am on the under.