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July 6, 2016

SPS has one recommended wager tonight.

Take St. Louis Cardinals (-155) on the ML against Pittsburgh Pirates risking 4.65% to win 3%.
(Garcia and Locke must both start for wager to have action)

The season series between these two NL Central rivals has been a strange one so far. Both clubs have swept each other in the other team's respective backyard as the Bucs achieved that feat earlier in the season at Busch Stadium before the Cards went to PNC Park and repaid the favor! In this particular 4-game series, St. Louis has dropped the first two at home and will be extremely wary of Clint Hurle's side over the next two contests. We don't foresee them being swept at home again and while they are going up against a talented and unfamiliar opponent in Pittsburgh's #1 ranked prospect, Glasnow tomorrow afternoon, they are facing a pitcher that they know very well tonight. Jeff Locke has 9 previous starts against Mike Matheny's squad and that gives the offense some much needed familiarity. It means they know what pitches to expect on certain counts and have an extended scouting report on Locke's tendencies on the mound. It also helps that they've had gotten to him in the past as he owns a WHIP of nearly 1.5 in outings against the Cards! We believe they can trouble him and get a much-needed 'W' against their division rivals tonight.

Jaime Garcia will take the hill for the home side and he's been excellent throughout his career against Pittsburgh. He's 2-1 with one no-decision and a stellar 0.57 ERA in four previous starts against the Pirates. We don't expect him to be as flawless tonight but do believe he can out-duel and outlast Jeff Locke. He's coming off a strong performance where he lasted 8 innings and his team has won his last 3 starts! The Cardinals have the edge in the starting pitching matchup and if the bullpen doesn't throw away in the lead in the final innings, they are likely to win this game. The Pittsburgh lineup doesn't have as much experience (previous at-bats) against Garcia as the Cards do against Locke and that gives the home side an added advantage. Andrew McCutchen is the only Pirate that has more than a handful of plate appearances against him and hit him well.

Even if Locke does somehow record a quality start, the Pittsburgh bullpen may not perform at its best tonight. That's because Juan Nicasio and Caminero have both been used extensively over the past two days and could be given the night off. In addition, the likes of Hughes and Melancon have been used frequently over the past week, including last night and might not be at their sharpest if called upon. Given that many of their best relievers have thrown a lot of pitches in the last 6 games, one or two may not be available from the bullpen tonight. There's no doubt that Yadier Molina and company will be extremely motivated to bounce back and given their track record over the years, we expect them to do so, especially since a Pirates victory would see them leapfrog St. Louis in the standings and give them a leg up in the Wild Card race!

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Cardinals are 20-7 off an upset loss as a favorite to a division rival over the last two seasons!
  • Jeff Locke owns an ugly 7.16 ERA in 9 road starts this season and has struggled away from PNC Park!
  • Veterans, Matt Holiday and Matt Carpenter have both had great success against Jeff Locke in their careers.

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