Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#4959 Pittsburgh Pirates vs.
#4960 San Francisco Giants
Friday, July 23, 2021 at 9:45pm EDT
Written by Jordy

The Pittsburgh Pirates are heavy underdogs heading into a weekend series with the San Francisco Giants on Friday. Since winning back-to-back games over the New York Mets, the Pirates have lost in their last four consecutive outings. Now, they’ll head on the road to face the team with the best record in baseball. The Giants recently took a 3-1 victory in an epic four-game road series with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Johnny Cueto is expected to toe the rubber at Oracle Park opposite of Pittsburgh’s Chad Kuhl.

Pirates walking the plank

It doesn’t get much harder than this.

The Pirates got swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks, and now, they’ll have to face a vengeful Giants team that probably isn’t too happy with their performance on Thursday night.

Yeah, good luck with that one.

The Giants are slashing .244/.328/.436 on the season. So they clearly have the bats to turn Pittsburgh’s moribund defense inside out. It’s a defense with a pitching rotation throwing a 4.93 ERA on the season—the fifth-worst in the league.

They’re entrusting Friday’s game to 28-year-old pitcher Chad Kuhl (4.31 ERA). It hasn’t all been pretty for Kuhle this season, but he did look good in his last two outings against the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves. Perhaps he’s turning a corner or maybe those two teams really were just that bad offensively.

He’ll have to be on the up-and-up to save Pittsburgh’s crumbling offense. They’re currently sitting dead last in the league in run-scoring offense and the third-worst team in runners left in scoring position. The bottom line is the Pirates aren’t consistently getting runners across home plate, and they’ll be facing one of the best two-way teams in the league. If the Giants aren’t delivering the knockout blow with their bats, their pitchers will be doing it with their arms.

Giants need to take advantage of this series

The Giants are still hard at work to create the sort of separation from all of their NL West rivals that really helps them sleep comfortably at the top of the division. But that’s obviously a pipe dream at this point. Ahead of their three-game meeting with the Pirates, the Giants will be welcoming both the Dodgers and Houston Astros to Oracle Park over a span of six games.

Like it or not, we’re going to be learning a lot more about the Giants over the next week.

It’s imperative for them to blow through a winnable series like the one they’ll see against the Pirates this weekend. A slip-up could easily open the door for the Dodgers to climb their way back into the lead. Johnny Cueto is expected to kick-start the pitching festivities with a 4.01 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He allowed eight hits and two earned runs in his last meeting with the Pirates, but that game wasn’t in the comfort of his home building.

There’s no secret the Giants have looked like a completely different team when playing at home this season. They currently have the No. 2-ranked pitching rotation with a 3.26 ERA on the season. But if the defense fails, the Giants certainly have the bats on offense to really make things uncomfortable for Pittsburgh.

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The Pirates managed to even things out with the Giants in the last series meeting back in May at PNC Park. Not only has significant time passed since that first meeting, but Friday’s game will be the Pirates’ first trip at Oracle Park this season. The Giants are currently 30-13 when playing in their home building. So it’s clearly obvious they don’t lose a lot of games when playing at home.

Pittsburgh doesn’t win a lot of games when playing on the road, either. They don’t have the offensive firepower to hang with the Giants. Throw in the fact that they’ll be facing a confident Giants team coming off an impressive series with the Los Angeles Dodgers, and this game has the makings of an absolute catastrophe for the Pirates. Opposing teams are being held to a .219 batting average and .645 OPS when facing the Giants defense this season. Teams are having a hard time hitting against their pitchers, while the Pirates are having a hard time hitting against everyone.

It’s a problem that won’t have a happy ending for the Pirates on Friday. I’m laying the runs and taking the Giants in that one.

Prediction: San Francisco Giants (-1.5)

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A complete lack of faith in Pittsburgh’s offense is the only reason why I’m taking the under on Friday night. It’s hard to trust a team with the league’s worst run-scoring offense. It’s even harder to trust a team with only 15 wins on the road and coming into Oracle Park on a four-game losing streak. Opposing teams are only averaging 3.62 runs per game against the Giants this season. So there isn’t a lot of breathing room for the Pirates’ struggling offense to actually go to work in this meeting. This is too lopsided of a matchup. Give me the under in this one.

Prediction: Under (8.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast, and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY, and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys, and all the Sun Drop you can drink.