National League Central foes will battle in the first of a three-game series on Friday as the St. Louis Cardinals (25-32) take on the Pittsburgh Pirates (28-27). The Pirates will host this one at PNC Park, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 pm ET.
The Cardinals are the slight favorites despite playing on the road. They are -134 to win, while the Pirates’ moneyline sits at +114. The runline features Pittsburgh +1.5 (-142), and the over/under for total runs is nine.
Cardinals Still Trying To Find Consistency
Despite being the preseason favorites to win the NL Central, the St. Louis Cardinals are still struggling to find any sort of consistency. At 25-32, they sit in fourth in the division, 4.5 games back of the Milwaukee Brewers. On Friday, they will look to improve on the road, where they are just 13-16 to this point this season.
Taking the ball in the opener is righty Jack Flaherty. In 11 starts, Flaherty is 3-4 with a 4.81 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, and he has 58 strikeouts in 58 innings. In his last outing, Flaherty took a no-decision after allowing just one earned run in seven innings of work.
Despite their record, the offense has been above average to this point. They rank ninth in the majors in scoring, averaging 4.79 runs per game (4.10 on the road).
Nolan Gorman continues to lead several offensive categories for the Cardinals. He is hitting .272/.360/.555 with a team-leading 13 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
Keep an eye on Jordan Walker as well. The team’s top prospect was recalled on Thursday to rejoin the big club.
Pittsburgh Trying To Get To .500 At Home
While the Cardinals have struggled to perform this season, the Pirates have outperformed many expectations. Currently in second in the NL Central, they sit just a half game back of the Brewers. Still, they have to improve at PNC Park if they want to compete this year as they are just 12-13 at home.
Trying to improve the team’s home record to .500 will be 23-year-old Roansy Contreras. In 10 games, he is 3-4 with a 4.33 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, and he has 36 strikeouts in 52 innings. In his last 14 innings of work over three games, Conteras has allowed just five earned runs.
Pittsburgh ranks 20th in the majors in scoring, averaging 4.38 runs per game (just 3.92 at home). Providing the power in the offense is Jack Suwinski. In 150 at bats, he is hitting .240/.352/.507 with a team-leading 11 home runs.
While Suwinski leads the team in home runs, Bryan Reynolds has probably been the best all-around hitter for Pittsburgh. He is hitting .282/.333/.495 with seven home runs, 36 runs batted in, 31 runs scored, and eight stolen bases. He leads the team in both runs batted in and runs scored.
Take St. Louis To Win
St. Louis comes into this one 13-7 in their last 20 games against the Pirates and 15-5 in their last 20 games at PNC Park. In four of their last five road games, the UNDER has hit for the Cardinals.
For Pittsburgh, they are 1-4 in their last five home games and 4-6 in their last 10 games overall. The OVER has hit in four of the last six games for Pittsburgh.
This one is a tough one to call. While the Cardinals have been anything but impressive this season, the Pirates have really struggled at home.
Expect Jack Flaherty to have another nice outing in this one and take the Cardinals to win this one straight up (-134) on the road.