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    NL Wild Card Chase – Pirates Continue to Impress

    Posted by FairwayJay August 5, 2012

    The  Pittsburgh Pirates (61-46) return home following a 6-2 win over division-leading Cincinnati and remain in the thick of the NL wild card race. The Pirates would be in the playoffs if they started today on August 6. Pittsburgh has the best home record in MLB (33-16) while having played the fewest home games. They continue to impress and surprise many forecasters, and recall the Pirates 2012 season over/under win total was 72.5. Also note that the Pirates fell apart the second-half of last season as they were 47-43 at the All-Star break and just 1-game behind division-leading Milwaukee.  Pittsburgh finished 72-90; 24 games behind the Brewers. Note that the NL Central’s second-place team St. Louis went on to win the World Series at long odds.

    Bettors have made a bundle on the Pirates this season as Pittsburgh is the Majors top profit-producing team with over 21-units in the bank. The Pirates will be hard-pressed to continue producing profit at that rate, but they will still be undervalued in certain spots, and Monday, August 6th is one of those games.

    The Pirates appear to be in a letdown situation following the key division series at Cincinnati. Pittsburgh returns home following a 10-game road trip in which they went 6-4.  I’ve noted in recent MLB articles and analysis that betting baseball is about value and under-covering potential; both in players and team performances. Situations and scheduling need to be evaluated along with the pitchers and lineups, and the oddsmaker believes Pittsburgh is in a unfavorable spot off the key series and long road trip.

    But win, lose or draw, the Pirates should still not be an underdog to Arizona.  Here is some information to support and digest. Pittsburgh is 10-4 at home against left-handed starters and they face a seemingly pretty good one in Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks (12-6, 2.98 ERA). But dig deeper and you’ll see Miley has allowed 6 HR’s and a batting average near .300 his last six starts and was rocked for 8 runs in less than 4 innings at Milwaukee. His surface stats are solid with 24 BB and 95 K’s in 126 innings, but he’s entering unfamiliar territory as his innings pile up and it’s unlikely his #’s continue as strong the balance of the season.

    Erik Bedard is a proven veteran left-hander with solid skills and stuff. He’s much better than his record (5-12) and season-long ERA (4.83). Bedard has 100 K’s in 104 innings this season. Pitching at PNC Park, Bedard has been superb with a 2.72 ERA, .205 BAA and just 1 HR allowed. He’s pitched an average of 7 innings per home start. He’s off a very poor outing last time out allowing 8 earned runs in 4+ innings at Chicago. Thus, the over-reaction to his recent performance and line adjustment. However, note that Bedard dominated the Cubs his previous start with just 1 run and 2 hits allowed and 11 K’s in 7 innings; and he still lost 2-0.

    The Diamondbacks (55-53) have better season-long offensive stats, although the Pirates play half their games at a supreme pitchers park and have 122 HR’s to rank third in the National League. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen is a leading MVP candidate with his MLB-best .368 average along with 23 HR’s and 68 RBI’s. Arizona is 25-29 on the road and just 5-15 against left-handers on the highway. They blew a 3-run lead at Philadelphia Sunday and lost 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning for a deflating loss. The Pirates pen is better with a 2.81 ERA (2nd NL), league-leading 40 saves and just 6 blown saves. Bedard should bounce back with a solid start and the Pirates pen can offer relief when needed.

    This is not a strong play on the Pirates due to the situation, but as mentioned Pittsburgh should not be a home underdog in this match-up and therein lies the opportunity and value in betting and beating baseball.

    About FairwayJay

    Fairway Jay is a recognized leader and one of the sports industries insightful point spread prognosticators. Fairway Jay understands the dynamics involved in sports handicapping and betting over and above the myriad of stats to sort through to have success. You can sign up for weekly game analysis at www.fairwayjay.us & Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

    View all post by FairwayJay Visit author's website

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