The first-place St. Louis Cardinals host the last-place Pittsburgh Pirates in the three-game NL Central series opener on Tuesday night. The Pirates continue to have trouble scoring runs and will have J.T. Brubaker on the mound. The Cardinals were dealt a sweep in San Diego this weekend. They will give the starting call to John Gant. The Cardinals lead the season series by a 3-0 count.
Brubaker Shines Again, Seeks Fourth Win
J.T. Brubaker will make his eighth start of the season, aiming for a second consecutive victory. Brubaker was stellar once again in his latest effort, holding the Reds to only one run in six innings, leading to the win to improve his record to 3-2. The young right-hander is having a tremendous season, compiling a 2.58 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 38.1 innings of work. Brubaker allowed three runs in five innings against the Cardinals last month in a game the Pirates lost and has held them to three runs in seven career innings.
The Pirates were able to win two of four games against the first-place Giants this past weekend however they have not won a series since late April. They continue to have trouble scoring enough runs to win games. They now head out on a six-game road trip.
Still watching this on repeat pic.twitter.com/53lXilJkmI— Pirates (@Pirates) May 16, 2021
Bryan Reynolds is having a terrific month at the plate, filing a stellar .340 average and a 1.02 OPS. The 26-year old outfielder is now hitting .299 with 15 RBI’s on the season. He is 3 for 11 against the Cardinals this season and 2 for 4 against John Gant.
Pittsburgh is scoring an average of 3.45 runs per game, ranking them down at 29th in the Majors. The pitching staff owns a 4.32 team ERA, placing them 20th overall.
Gants Starts Opener, Cards Swept
The Cards will give John Gant the call for the eighth time of the year. Gant resumed his fine work last time out, limiting the Brewers to only one run (zero earned) in five innings of work, finishing with the no-decision. The veteran right-hander has issues with his command but it has yet to affect his numbers as he features a 1.83 ERA but his WHIP is at 1.63 along with a 2-3 record in 34.1 innings pitched. He held Pittsburgh to one run in a 7-3 win last month and is 4-2 with a 3.93 ERA against the division foes.
St. Louis returns home after a 2-4 road trip against tough opposition. They won two of three in Milwaukee and were swept in San Diego, scoring only a combined 10 runs in that series. They stand in first place ahead of the Brewers and Cubs.
After 9 Gold Gloves and 4 Platinum Gloves, they STILL haven't learned! pic.twitter.com/4icqfsVbFW— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) May 17, 2021
Cards’ leadoff hitter Tommy Edman is a solid 5 for 13 at the dish against the Pirates this season. The 26-year old third baseman is only hitting .265 on the month and has six RBI’s along with a .679 OPS on the season.
The Cardinals are averaging 4.39 runs on the season, ranking them 14th in the Major Leagues. The pitching staff features a 3.87 team ERA, landing them 15th overall.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are:
- 6-20 in their last 26 games against the Cardinals.
- 5-12 in their last 17 games overall.
- 13-39 in their last 52 games against a starter with a WHIP above 1.30.
The St. Louis Cardinals are:
- 4-1 in their last 5 games in the first game of a series.
- 6-2 in their last 8 home games.
- 6-2 in their last 8 games against a team with a losing record.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
The Cardinals are not happy after a sweep in San Diego and I expect them to rebound with a convincing win in this one. Overall St. Louis is playing like the contenders that they are this season while the Pirates are having trouble winning games with consistency. Cards’ starter John Gant has been incredible, conceding one or zero earned runs in four consecutive starts including an outing against this Pirates team in a game St. Louis won by a convincing 7-3 score.
Furthermore, the Pirates offense is slumping. They have now tallied three or fewer runs in four out of their last five games and it’s hard to see them breaking out against Gant who is pitching so well.
Full-Game Total Pick
I expect offense to be at a premium in this matchup. John Gant limited Pittsburgh to only one run in five innings on the road late last month and the under is a common trend when he is on the hill. The under is also a perfect 4-0 in Gant’s last four home starts.
In addition, Pirates’ starter JT Brubaker is quietly having a fantastic season, allowing two or fewer runs in all but one start. The only outing he gave up more than two runs was against this Cardinals team in which he allowed three. The under is 4-1 in the Pirates’ last five games overall.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The under on the Pirates team total is a great play. The Pirates were limited to only a total of eight runs in their three clashes against the Cardinals in the previous series. They especially struggle to score on the road where they have recorded two or fewer runs in five out of their last six clashes.
First Five Innings Prop Prediction
I anticipate a scoreless first inning. Brubaker is sharp early in games, recording a 1.29 ERA in the first inning in his seven outings. Also, the Pirates have only scored 19 runs along with a .615 OPS in the first inning in their 40 games on the year.