The start of this season hasn’t gone as planned for the St. Louis Cardinals. After entering the season as a trendy pick to win the National League pennant, the Cardinals have stumbled out of the gate thanks to an inconsistent lineup and a pitching staff that’s struggled to get big outs. They’ll try and turn the start of their season around today when they welcome the Pittsburgh Pirates to Busch Stadium for a four-game weekend series. Jordan Montgomery (2-0, 2.25 ERA) will start for St. Louis, while Pittsburgh counters with Vince Velasquez (0-2, 9.82 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:45 p.m. ET.
The Cardinals are -225 favorites on the moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, while the Pirates are +215 underdogs. The total sits at 8.5.
Pirates-Cardinals picks: Thursday, April 13th
Out: C Austin Hedges (concussion), RP Robert Stephenson (right elbow inflammation), SP JT Brubaker (right elbow), SS Oneil Cruz (fractured right ankle)
Day to day: OF Dylan Carlson (neck)
Out: Lars Nootbaar (left thumb contusion), SP Adam Wainwright (groin strain), RP Packy Naughton (left forearm strain), SS Paul DeJong (lower back)
Jordan Montgomery vs. Vince Velasquez
A trade deadline acquisition last year, Montgomery has started the year strong thanks in large part to his fastball and sinker usage. Montgomery has thrown his sinker 36% of the time this year — with hitters averaging a measly .105 off the pitch — along with using his fastball 21% of time, with hitters averaging .200 off it. Montgomery’s secret weapon so far this season has been his changeup, which he’s recorded four strikeouts on. He’s thrown the pitch 17.3% of the time, and has only thrown it against right-handers.
Velasquez turned in a subpar outing last time out, as he allowed five runs in 2.2 innings in a start where he struggled his command. He’s in the sixth percentile in strikeout rate, the 22nd percentile in walk rate and the 35th percentile in whiff rate. He turned his ankle in the third inning of his last start, but X-rays came back negative and he’s all set to make the start tonight.
I’m backing the offense here, as the Cardinals have cleared this line in their past three games, while the Pirates have cleared this total in two of their last three games. Velasquez has yet to prove that he can get batters out (he has a WHIP of 2.182 and has already given up two home runs), and Montgomery has been haunted by the long ball in the past, as evidenced by him allowing 21 home runs last year and 19 home runs in ‘21.
Pick: Over 8.5
The Cardinals are heading home after picking up two big wins over the Rockies that included late-game comebacks. Tonight’s game should be decided earlier, as they should jump all over Velasquez and cruise to a win. Despite their struggles as a team, the Cardinals have the third best batting average in baseball, and they should get plenty of good pitches to hit today.