Pittsburgh (Locke) +150 at St. Louis (Garcia) O/U 8.5
We’ve got lefty vs. lefty in St Louis tonight. The Pirates are an above average hitting team against opposing southpaws, and they’ve got a .600 winning percentage against opposing lefty starters. Meanwhile, the Cardinals rank #25 in MLB in OPS vs lefties, and they have a sub .500 record against them. Advantage: Pittsburgh.
Pirates starter Jeff Locke is NOT respected in the betting markets and his aggregate stats aren’t all that pretty. Locke has a 5.13 ERA and a 5.01 xFIP which appears to show that his dismal ERA is no fluke. But both of those are very misleading numbers, especially compared to his current form.
In early June, Locke was asked to take one for the team in Colorado on a day where the Pirates had no fresh arms in their bullpen. The box score was ugly: 11 earned runs allowed in 4.1 innings of work. His next start was ugly as well, allowing another seven earned runs in four innings against the Mets. A third of the runs he’s allowed ALL YEAR came in those two starts, but they’ve affected his aggregate, season long numbers significantly.
Since those two dismal outings, Locke has been dominant in three straight starts, going 3-0 while allowing only four runs and walking only three batters in 18.2 innings of work. It’s surely worth noting that current Cardinals have hit only .233 with a .686 OPS in 116 previous career at bats against him.
Pittsburgh went through a VERY rough stretch in June, at one point going just 5-17 through a 22 game span. But they’re certainly not struggling right now, winners of six straight and nine of their last eleven. Eight of those nine wins has come at an underdog price – no team in the NL has made more money for their supporters in recent weeks.
While Cardinals starter Jamie Garcia has owned the Pirates in his career, it’s surely worth noting that St Louis has significant bullpen concerns right now, most notably their issues at closer. With a 3-9 mark in their last dozen games at Busch Stadium, this price tag is more than a bit lofty for the home favorite tonight.