St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates - 7/24/20 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates - 7/24/20 MLB Pick, Odds, and Prediction Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0) at St. Louis Cardinals (0-0)

MLB Baseball: Friday, July 24, 2020 at 8:15 pm (Busch Stadium)

Joe Musgrove (0-0) (0.00) vs. Jack Flaherty (0-0) (0.00)

The Line: St. Louis Cardinals -194 / Pittsburgh Pirates +177 --- Over/Under: 7.5 Click Here for the Latest Odds

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The Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals meet in an NL Central division matchup in MLB action from Busch Stadium on Friday night.

The Pittsburgh Pirates come into the 2020 season looking to shake off a frustrating 2019 campaign that saw the Bucs finish at 69-93, their worst win total since 2010, missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season. It also didn’t help matters that the Pirates finished 22 games back of the division-winning Cardinals, leading the Pirates to unceremoniously fire Clint Hurdle an hour before the final game of the regular season, leaving the reins to Derek Shelton for his first Major League managerial opportunity. As far as the batting order goes, there are a couple of things for Pirates fans to be high on, as Josh Bell is back after leading the Bucs with 37 homers and 116 RBIs last season, as is Gregory Polanco hopes to stay in the lineup after just 42 games last season while Adam Frazier, Kevin Newman and Bryan Reynolds come back as well with Newman and Reynolds boasting two of the more consistent bats on the team with each hitting over .300 last season. From the viewpoint of the pitching rotation, Trevor Williams, Steven Brault and Mitch Keller are expected to make up the bulk of the pitching rotation for Pittsburgh, but all of them have to be better with ERAs well over five last season, including Keller’s ERA that was north of seven. Joe Musgrove is tabbed as the staff ace and will get the start on opening night after going 11-12 with a 4.44 ERA and 157 strikeouts last season. In his career, Musgrove is 1-6 with a 7.05 ERA and 40 strikeouts against the Cardinals.

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The St. Louis Cardinals will try to replicate the success they had last year, finishing with a record of 91-71 on the way to their first division title since 2015. St. Louis would take care of the Atlanta Braves in the NLDS before succumbing to the eventual champion Washington Nationals, being swept in the NLCS, not a bad first year under manager Mike Shildt. Paul Goldschmidt will be tasked to lead St. Louis offensively after coming off of his worst career year in terms of batting average, hitting .260 with 34 homers and 97 RBIs. A lot of the usual suspects are also back, with Kolten Wong, Matt Carpenter and Paul DeJong back as well as stalwart Yadier Molina behind home plate. The starting rotation looks to be St. Louis’ strength this season as the Cardinals have one of the more balanced and solid rotations in all of the majors, with Adam Wainwright, Miles Mikolas, Dakota Hudson and potentially Carlos Martinez in the fold. Jack Flaherty leads the pack and is expected to start opening night after going 11-8 with a 2.75 ERA and 231 strikeouts last season. In his career, Flaherty is 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA and 41 strikeouts against Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is 4-11 in their last 15 games overall and 0-6 in their last 6 road games while the over is 12-5 in their last 17 division games. St. Louis is 2-5 in their last 7 home games and 35-17 in their last 52 division games while the over is 5-1-1 in their last 7 games as a home favorite. Pittsburgh is 7-20 in the last 27 meetings between these two teams and 20-45 in the last 65 meetings between these two teams in St. Louis.

I think as far as the total goes, while it seems low, I just don't know where all the runs are going to come from. Flaherty's last four starts against the Pirates have all seen the total finish at 7 runs or less, and Musgrove had a couple of capable starts against the Cardinals last season. Either way, I think we see another low scoring meeting here so I'll back the under 7.5 as my free pick for this game but I have a much stronger play on the side and you can find that as a premium pick here.

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Chris’s Pick Under 7.5

The pick in this article is the opinion of the writer, not a Sports Chat Place site consensus.