By: Austin Moehn (@austin_moehn22)
(Odds via Bovada)
Moneyline: PIT: (+140) | MIL: (-160)
Spread: PIT: +1.5 (-140) | MIL: -1.5 (+120)
Total: 8.5 Over: (-100) | Under: (-120)
First Pitch: 7:10pm CST | American Family Field | Milwaukee, WI
We got a good weekend series coming up as the Pirates head to Milwaukee for the first series between the teams in 2021. The Pirates have gotten off to a better start than what most fans and experts expected as they’ve won two out of three against the Cubs and they split a four game series against the Padres in their past seven games. The Brewers are also coming into this one playing well after they’ve won their last three series against the Cubs two times and Cardinals once. The pitching matchup for the opener is J.T Brubaker (1-0 1.39 ERA) and Adrian Houser (1-1 1.80 ERA).
Milwaukee Brewers (7-5)
After dropping two out of three to the Twins at the start of the year, the Brewers have been able to get wins over their divisional foes. Taking three series in a row against the Cubs and Cardinals is a good start as Milwaukee is trying to establish themselves as the top team in the NL Central. This has been done via the fantastic pitching by their starters. Adrian Houser has been a contributing member of this red hot rotation. Houser has bounced back quite well from his 2020 campaign this season as he has allowed only two earned runs in ten innings of work. Houser does have some experience against the Pirates lineup and has done decently against them except for Colin Moran who is six for nine off the 28 year old. He hasn’t been able to work his way deep into games so far this season, but that is fine for the Crew today because they had a day off on Thursday and the bullpen should be fresh.
The lineup has overall been struggling this season, but it seems that they are trending in the right direction as Luis Urias, Travis Shaw, and Omar Narvaez have been seeing the ball well lately. Even with the injuries to Yellich, Cain, and Wong, Milwaukee has been able to get the most out of their lineup with bench players Daniel Robertson and Billy McKinney stepping in to fill the gap of the injured starters.
Pittsburgh Pirates (5-8)
Coming into 2021, expectations were set very low for the Pirates. It was thought that they would be clearly the worst in the NL Central, but they have shown to have some fight in Pittsburgh. The lineup has been surprisingly productive with Bryan Renoylds, Philip Evans, and Colin Moran leading the way for the Buccos. Their team on base is at .333 which is the fifth best in the National League and as a team, they hit for average more than power as they rank 11th in baseball in average and 16th in slugging. The biggest downfall to the team though has been the pitching staff.
J.T Brubaker has been the one bright spot in the starting rotation with registering pretty solid numbers through his first two starts. Like Houser, Brubaker hasn’t been able to work deep into games so far with his longest start being five and a third innings. Nowadays getting five good innings out of a starter is good, but this lack of getting deep into games isn’t too good for the Pirates because the bullpen as a group have struggled this year. Kyle Crick and closer Richard Rodríguez have been lights out this season but other than those two, Pittsburgh has struggled to consistently get clean innings out of the pen. Brubaker made two starts against Milwaukee last season and they were both not bad as he allowed a combined four runs over nine innings of work. Brubaker has strikeout ability with 9.6 K/9 so it will be interesting to see if he will be able to shut down the Brewers offense which has a tendency to strikeout.
Best Bet & Prediction
Both lineups have been doing well recently but it might be tough to get runs going early with how both starters have pitched so far this season. I expect that Houser and Brubaker are going to be able to do five or six innings of solid work before needing to turn it over to their bullpens. This is where I think the Brewers will be able to separate themselves in this game. Milwaukee’s bullpen is ready to go with Hader and Williams not being worked too much in the past week and after the day off, this should be an area of advantage for the Crew. As I mentioned before, the Pirates bullpen has two good arms but other than that, there isn’t much. My best bet for this game is the Brewers -1.5 (+120). The reason I’m going with this is because the Brewers are a more talented team and have been playing well recently. A trend that I am valuing here is the Brewers are 4-1 in their last five games against right hand starters. With lefty bats like Travis Shaw, Omar Naravez, and Jackie Bradley Jr, it is clear why they’ve been able to score against righty starters this season. I think Milwaukee is going to be able to put up some runs in this game and having a rested bullpen with Hader and Williams, Milwaukee should be able to shorten the game for the Pirates. I am liking Milwaukee in this spot to cover the spread.
Austin’s MLB 2021 picks 5-1 (+$330 from $100 bets)