Pirates at Brewers – MLB Pick for September 12th
Most figured the Chicago Cubs’ second half surge would lead to them blowing away the competition in the NL Central, but that hasn’t been the case. The St. Louis Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers are both very much alive in both the divisional and Wild Card races. Entering play Tuesday, the Cubs lead the Cardinals by 2 games and the Brewers by 2.5.
Milwaukee blew a chance to gain ground by losing to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, but the Brew Crew will have a shot at redemption with lefty Brent Suter on the mound. Suter has spent his second big league campaign shuffling back and forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen. His most recent start came on August 12 against the Reds when he surrendered five runs on four hits in five innings of work.
Walks have been a bit of an issue for him this season, and he doesn’t miss a ton of bats either (19.3% K-rate). One thing he does extraordinarily well is stifle fellow left-handed bats. Lefties have a putrid wOBA of just .260 in 66 plate appearances against Suter on the year. That isn’t a huge sample size, but it’s not nothing, either.
Unfortunately, Suter will be going up against a Pirates lineup that doesn’t have many (if any) lefties in it. All of their best bats (Andrew McCutchen, Starling Marte, David Freese) swing it from the other side of the plate.
Brewers bats will have to deal with Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, who has rounded back into form after a disastrous 2016. Cole isn’t necessarily as dominant as your standard No. 1 starter (11-9, 3.93 ERA), but his peripherals are more encouraging. His strikeouts are back up (19.4% last season, 22.3% this season) and his walks are down (7.1% to 6.2%).
The main issue with Cole this season has been lefties. He’s stifled righties pretty well, but left-handed power bats have been problematic. Lefties have hit 16 homers and have a wOBA of .334 against Cole this season. Righties, meanwhile, have 11 bombs and a .288 wOBA.
Milwaukee certainly has plenty of power in the lineup, but they also strike out a ton against right-handed pitching. The Brewers rank dead-last in all of baseball in K-rate against right-handed pitchers on the year and Cole has enjoyed success against them already in 2017. Cole is 1-0 in four starts with a tidy 2.33 ERA against these Brewers. He’s also struck out 32 in just 27 innings.
This season as a whole hasn’t gone according to plan for the Pirates, but we like them as an underdog in this spot. Suter isn’t a bad pitcher, but the Bucs have enough solid righties in the lineup to give him problems. Pittsburgh isn’t a huge underdog (+104 on the moneyline), but there is certainly profit potential.
Vegas has also tabbed this game with an over/under of 8.5 runs. The pitchers aren’t bad, but Miller Park is one of the best stadiums in baseball for power hitting.