Aug. 9 MLB Preview — Pittsburgh Pirates (48-66) at St. Louis Cardinals (58-55)

(Mike Shildt photo courtesy Philip G. Pavely/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Friday, Aug. 9, Busch Stadium, St. Louis, Mo., 8:15 p.m. EDT.

Dakota Hudson has an excellent chance to right himself and give the St. Louis Cardinals a needed boost Friday night when they open a three-game series against the reeling Pittsburgh Pirates.

Pirates’ free fall lands them in NL Central cellar

Pittsburgh (48-66) has lost five straight and 21 of 25 since the All-Star break, going from potential wild-card contenders to last place in the NL Central. The Pirates have also dropped nine of 13 to the Cardinals and were swept in a four-game series at home last month in the most recent matchup.

“A lot of us are searching right now. A lot of us are trying to keep our head above water,” pitcher Trevor Williams told the Bucs’ official website. “It’s been a really tough stretch for us. We’re going to take the off-day tomorrow and try to get everything reset, and get to St. Louis and look to win a series there. We’re going to keep coming to the yard and try to get better every day to collectively help the team win.”

Chris Archer (3-8, 5.35 ERA) will try to stop the bleeding for Pittsburgh, which completed a 1-5 homestand absorbing a three-game sweep by Milwaukee after Wednesday night’s 8-3 setback. The right-hander deserved better than a no-decision Saturday after holding the New York Mets to one run in six innings before the bullpen imploded in the final three innings of Pittsburgh’s 7-5 defeat.

Archer is facing the Cardinals for the third time in 23 days and fourth time this year, entering this contest 0-1 with a 3.71 ERA in the season series. He took the loss in the most recent matchup July 23, yielding four runs and seven hits — two of them home runs — in six innings of a 4-3 defeat.

The righty is 2-1 with a 4.40 ERA in eight starts against NL Central rivals, striking out 60 in 45 innings but also serving up 10 homers.

Cards back home after miserable Cali trip

The Cardinals (58-55) picked an inopportune time to have an empty road swing, losing all five games in Oakland Los Angeles while totaling just six runs. They enter this game third in the NL Central, one-half game back of the Milwaukee Brewers and 3 1/2 behind the Chicago Cubs in the division race. St. Louis is now in a free-for-all for the two wild-card spots as eight teams are separated by four games.

“We have to just move on,” Andrew Miller said after Wednesday’s 2-1 walk-off loss to the Dodgers. “We learn from things not going well, but ultimately, you have to have a short memory. I know we’ve been saying a lot this year, I’ve been saying it a lot about myself. I think everybody in here believes in themselves and the group we have, but we have to go back it up.”

Hudson (10-6, 3.99) leads the Cardinals in victories, but he is looking to avoid his first three-start losing streak of the year. The right-hander had control issues Saturday versus Oakland, walking a season-high five in 3 2-3 innings that contributed to five runs allowed in an 8-3 defeat.

He is 1-0 with a save in two starts and a relief appearance versus Pittsburgh this year, yielding six runs in 13 innings. Hudson beat Archer on July 23 after shaking off a three-run, first-inning homer by Starling Marte to toss 5 1-3 scoreless innings.

The Cardinals have not lost six straight since a seven-game skid from June 2-8, 2017.

Notable Trends

The Cardinals are:

  • 7-1 in their last eight games vs. NL Central opponents.
  • 8-0 in Hudson’s last eight starts vs. sub-.500 teams.
  • 16-5 in their last 21 games vs. starters with a plus-1.30 WHIP.

The Pirates are:

  • 7-21 in their last 28 road games.
  • 5-11 in Archer’s last 16 starts vs. above-.500 teams.
  • 3-11 in Archer’s last 14 road starts.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Cardinals -0.5 runs first 5 innings (+105)

This is mainly a pro-Hudson pick considering the Cardinals starter has led at the midway point in both of his outings against Pittsburgh this year. St. Louis is also 6-4-1 after five innings at home in his starts.

Additionally, the Pirates are 1-5-3 after five innings in Archer’s nine road starts and 2-10-3 in their last 15 outside PNC Park overall.

****4-Star Pick****

Cardinals -1.5 runs (+125)

The Cardinals are struggling, but the Pirates are struggling more and need this game more. Hudson has done his part against Pittsburgh in his two starts, and facing Archer — who has struggled mightily on the road — may be just what St. Louis’ struggling offense needs to snap out of its doldrums.

***3-Star Picks***

UNDER 9 runs (-110)

Though the over is 3-1-1 in the last five matchups, the under is a healthy 21-9 in the last 30 in St. Louis. The Cardinals’ offense does not inspire much confidence even with getting three or more off Archer in two of their three matchups. This has the feel of a game that will go right up to the number before falling short as both teams are simply trying to win a game.

Pirates UNDER 4 runs (-121)

Hudson and the Cardinals held Pittsburgh to three runs in beating Archer last month, and the Pirates have been held to four or fewer runs in eight of their 13 games against St. Louis. Pittsburgh has also been held to four or less in eight of its 12 road games since the All-Star break, and with Hudson enjoying success against lesser teams, look for the Pirates’ offensive woes to continue.

UNDER 5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

St. Louis’ struggles on offense make it difficult to take the over in this instance despite it hitting in both of Hudson’s starts versus Pittsburgh and going 2-0-1 in Archer’s three outings against the Cardinals. The five-inning under is 9-2 in the Cards’ last 11, including 5-1 in the last six at Busch Stadium, in large part because they have scored two or fewer runs in all 11 contests.

Cardinals UNDER 2.5 runs first 5 innings (-125)

The pick is riding on the trend of St. Louis’ offensive struggles in the first five innings coupled with the fact the Cardinals have been held to two or fewer runs in the first five in seven of their 13 games with the Pirates this season. Going back further, St. Louis has failed to score three runs in the first five innings in 17 of its last 21 at home.


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