Things went from bad to worse for the St. Louis Cardinals on Thursday when they couldn’t even beat the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of a four-game series. The Red Birds will get an immediate chance to redeem themselves on Friday when they host the Pirates again. St. Louis is favored on Friday with a moneyline of -180, while Pittsburgh’s moneyline is listed at +150.
Things have truly gotten ugly for the Cardinals during the month of June. They are now just 6-15 since the start of the month, including four consecutive losses. That stretch has dropped them to fourth place in the NL Central, three games under .500, and six games out of first place.
The good news for the Cards is that they aren’t anywhere close to falling behind Pittsburgh. The Pirates have the second-fewest wins in the National League and begin Friday 14 games out of first place in the NL Central. On the bright side, the Pirates have won four of their last six games and are a mere 19 games under .500 on the season.
The Crowe Flies on Friday
Wil Crowe is scheduled to get the start for Pittsburgh on Friday. The youngster continues to struggle early in his big league career, owning a 6.42 ERA this season and a 7.35 career ERA over 12 starts and one relief appearance between this year and last year. On the bright side, he’s allowed just two runs in each of his last two starts, although the Pirates are lucky if they can get five decent innings out of Crowe.
The silver lining for Crowe is that he’ll face an ice-hold St. Louis lineup on Friday. The Cardinals have now scored two runs or less in 10 of their last 13 games, as they are deep in a team-wide slump. Despite the best efforts of Tommy Edman and Paul Goldschmidt, who continue to find hits, the Cardinals are struggling to push any runs across the board.
The Man on the Mound
For St. Louis, getting a strong performance from the starting pitcher is imperative with the offense struggling. On Friday, that’ll be Korean lefty Kwang Hyun Kim, who is 1-5 with a 3.60 ERA in 11 starts this year. Kim isn’t going deep into games, which is why he only has one win, but he’s been effective in small doses despite being on the losing end in five of his last six starts.
Oddly enough, the Pirates have found a way to score a few runs lately despite being one of the worst offensive teams in baseball this year. They’ve averaged 5.8 runs per game over their last six games, including eight runs against St. Louis in Thursday’s series opener. Bryan Reynolds and Adam Frazier have been consistent all season, and both are scorching hot right now, especially with other parts of the Pittsburgh lineup chipping in.
A Pirate Life
Taking St. Louis as a heavy favorite, given the team’s recent form, feels like a sucker’s bet. On paper, the Cardinals are surely the better team, but there is value in taking the Pirates as underdogs against a team that’s 6-15 this month. Take a chance by betting on Pittsburgh to win on Friday.
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