MLB Betting: Cardinals v Pirates and Nationals v Mets

The St. Louis Cardinals should get the better of the Pittsburgh Pirates in a key National League Central matchup on Friday. As good as Pirates starter James McDonald was in the first half of the season, he’s been woeful since the All-Star break. In six second-half starts, McDonald has produced just one quality start (six-plus innings of work and three or fewer earned runs allowed). In that time he’s seen his ERA jump from 2.37 to 3.77. In addition, the road has not treated him well during this stretch: in 20.2 away innings pitches since the All Star Game he’s allowed 18 earned runs.

His pitching opponent is on an opposite trajectory. Jake Westbrook has won each of his past five starts and delivered an ERA of 2.94 over that stretch. Pick the Cardinals at 1.65 as McDonald’s struggles make Pittsburgh a bad pick at 2.25.

The New York Mets are not the team to go with when they visit the Washington Nationals. Johan Santana returned from the disabled list in his last outing and looked rusty, yielding an abysmal eight runs in only 1 1/3 innings of work. Lest you think it was only the time off that harmed his form, keep in mind Santana was pitching poorly before going down with an ankle injury. All told, he’s allowed 27 earned runs in his past 14 innings. He always has the ability to shine, but Santana may be facing the wear and tear of his first season back from shoulder surgery.

Ross Detwiler and his devastating sinker will be on the mound for the Nationals. He didn’t pitch well in his last game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, but Detwiler was suffering an illness that he should now have recovered from. Overall, Detwiler is 6-5 with a 3.18 ERA. Take the Nationals at 1.57 not the Mets at 2.40.