The Pittsburgh Pirates are going to be hard-pressed to come out on top when they visit the St Louis Cardinals on Thursday. Pirates’ starting pitcher Erik Bedard has been dubbed 'the best 1-4 pitcher in baseball' and indeed the left-hander has thrown well (2.48 ERA), but he has two key factors working against him in this one. The first is he’s facing the best run-scoring offence in the National League; the second is his team has put up the fewest runs per game of any NL club, meaning support will be limited. It’s also worth adding that the Cardinals have absolutely killed left-handed starters in 2011.
They’re hitting .327 against lefties – more than fifty points higher than their batting average against righties. Add the fact that St. Louis had a .700 winning percentage at home through Tuesday and it’s clear all signs point to picking the Cardinals at 1.57 over the Pirates at 2.40.
Meanwhile, talk about pressure; David Phelps will make his first Major League start – for the Yankees no less – in Kansas City, which isn’t far from his home town of St Louis. The Royals will counter with rookie Danny Duffy. Between the stress Phelps will be feeling and Duffy’s recent arm issues (he missed his last start due to elbow stiffness) this could be a high scoring affair. The Yankees have one of the top run-producing lineups in baseball and while the Royals are slightly below average overall, they’ve swung the bat better at home than away (.272 batting average at home; .253 on the road). Also, Kaufman Stadium is a healthy eighth out of thirty teams in terms of run scoring. All told, this mean you should opt for over 9.00 runs at 1.85 instead of going under at 1.95.