Brewers vs. Pirates – MLB Pick For July 17th
Something has to break at PNC Park on Monday night when NL Central rivals in the Milwaukee Brewers and Pittsburgh Pirates face off. The Brew Crew continues to maintain a strong hold on first place in the division at 52-42 but could face a challenge on the road against their red hot rivals.
Pittsburgh plays host to the Brewers after winning 7 of their last 9 contests, including a 2-1 series win over the St. Louis Cardinals. The Pirates have run hot and cold all year and still seem to be stuck in limbo as to whether they’ll compete for the bottom of the division or actually give first place a go.
Milwaukee provides more power at first glance and enters game one of this series even hotter. The Brew Crew dropped their series finale to the visiting Phillies at Miller Park on Sunday, but have still won 8 of their last 10 games and hold a 4.5 game lead in the NL Central. With the Chicago Cubs storming back (won three straight), the Brewers know they can’t afford any miscues in a winnable game (and series) and PNC Park.
Does that mean we get to chase the value built into a Brewers underdog pick? Or is there another angle to take if we’re betting on this contest? Let’s dig a little deeper to find out:
There is really only quality value in two spots; taking the Brewers as straight up underdogs or rolling with Pittsburgh’s Run Line (-1.5, +160) as home favorites. If we’re actually expecting the Pirates to win, then sure, why pass on that value?
But the Brewers are the better team, so we’re going to need hard evidence to work against them. Milwaukee has actually performed quite well on the road this year (24-18) and has all of the momentum in the world.
There could be mild concern associated with Milwaukee battling Pirates pitcher, Chad Kuhl. The 24-year old righty worked them pretty good the last time he faced them (2 runs, 6 Ks) and has handled them very well on the year (2.25 ERA across two starts). That success is worth noting, but Kuhl himself hasn’t been a model of elite play in 2017.
Kuhl for one reason or another hasn’t done a great job in his home stadium, posting a poor 6.46 ERA at PNC Park, while going 1-4 at home. This is not a guy with a high K rate, either, so when he starts giving up hard contact, things can unravel fast.
Milwaukee is as dangerous as they come, as the Brewers rank #1 in home runs against righties on the year. With 6 of Kuhl’s 9 home runs allowed on the year coming at PNC Park, this could be a bad spot to back him. Kuhl’s recent form has been strong, as he stifled the Chicago Cubs and has allowed just 4 runs over his last 2 starts. However, he’s trying to silence an explosive offense for the third time and this meeting might not go as swimmingly as the previous two.
On the other side, the Brewers are pushing lefty Brent Suter onto the mound. The 27-year old southpaws see a terrific park shift and there is reason for optimism after he handled his own at Yankee Stadium (2 runs, 5 Ks). He’s now turned in back to back solid outings and will battle a Pirates team that traditionally lacks pop or cohesion.
That’s especially the case against lefties, as the Pirates rank 25th in home runs and just 24th in batting average against left-handed pitching. You could really look at this matchup from either side. On one hand, the Pirates are at home, in a groove and Kuhl has owned the Brewers this year. On the other, Milwaukee is just as hot, their bats provide nasty power and their arm has the splits advantage.
I don’t hate the Run Line value we get with the Pirates, but Kuhl isn’t going to dominate this Milwaukee offense all year and the Brewers have been the better team. Suter’s matchup edge helps give them the nod.