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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, August 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Though both teams have had their ups and downs recently…the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates are largely sitting back where they were a few weeks ago. The Cards and neck-and-neck with Milwaukee at the top of the NL Central (and one of those two teams is likely to get at least a Wildcard spot). Pittsburgh has drifted back a bit into a battle for the second Wildcard spot with San Francisco and Atlanta.

There’s still well over a month left in the season for new developments to shake the foundations of the pennant race. What’s clear right now is that EVERY GAME MATTERS for both the Cards and Bucs! That means this week’s series should feature some high intensity baseball ideal for watching and handicapping.

Let’s run some numbers…



St. Louis: 3.82 runs per game, .322 on-base, .375 slugging

Pittsburgh: 4.26 runs per game, .331 on-base, .396 slugging

As we’ve mentioned a few times this year, Pittsburgh has a much better offense than people realize…and a much better offense than the Cardinals. St. Louis is closer in on-base percentage and slugging than the runs-per-game totals would have suggested. Edge to Pittsburgh across the board.



John Lackey: 3.88 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.5 K-Rate

Francisco Liriano: 4.18 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 9.7 K-Rate

Lackey has three quality starts vs. NL offenses since coming over from Boston of the American League. He did have one bad start as a Cardinal, but that came on the road at Baltimore in an Interleague game. Interesting challenge facing a good offense in the inferior of the two leagues. Liriano has been victimized by poor run support, which is why his won-lost record is 3-10 this season. But, he has thrown quality starts in five of his last six outings. Probably an edge to Lackey. Will it be enough to trump Pittsburgh’s offensive edge and home field?



Lance Lynn: 2.78 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.2 K-Rate

Gerrit Cole: 3.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 8.2 K-Rate

Lynn has performed very well in recent weeks, throwing quality starts in eight of his last nine outings. Those are ace caliber stats in what’s been a full season of 26 starts. Cole is getting outs for the Pirates, but is having trouble making it past six innings over the last month. Lynn is likely to have a slightly better game, while lasting a few outs longer. You can deduce from the similarities in WHIP but the differences in ERA that Cole is more prone to allowing high impact hits.



Adam Wainwright: 2.52 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 7.2 K-Rate

Jeff Locke: 3.69 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 5.8 K-Rate

Wainwright’s ERA is has risen 0.6 of a run over the last month as he’s returned to being mortal after getting the All-Star start ahead of Clayton Kershaw. Still, those are great full season stats. Locke’s ERA is up 0.8 of a run over the last five weeks, which is part of why the Pirates surge hasn’t been able to sustain traction. He has a low K-Rate, so Pittsburgh’s defensive creativity has helped him retain effectiveness. Big edge to Wainwright. But, the Over might be worth thinking about given the recent form of both hurlers.

Looks like the Cards will have at least a slight edge on the mound in all three meetings…while Pittsburgh possesses the slightly more dangerous bats while playing in front of home fans in what should feel like a playoff setting. That suggests games within an arm’s reach of pick-em every time out. Whom do you trust more to get the job done?

JIM HURLEY is likely to have at least one big play in this three-game set. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about longterm service, call us in the office Sunday before first pitch at 1-888-777-4155. Get locked in NOW because college football starts on Thursday!

Back with you Tuesday with another pennant race series preview. Then, get ready for several consecutive days of TV previews in college football. Here’s the upcoming schedule…

Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…NY Yankees at Detroit

Wednesday: Early College Football TV Preview…Texas A&M at South Carolina

Thursday: College Football TV Preview…Ole Miss vs. Boise State (Atlanta)

Friday:  College Football TV Preview…BYU at Connecticut

Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Florida State vs. Oklahoma State (Arlington)

Sunday: College Football TV Preview…Utah State at Tennessee

Labor Day: College Football TV Preview…Miami at Louisville

That’s SIX straight days of college previews through Labor Day Weekend…and we know you’ve been looking forward to watching those games (and winning!) all summer long. Stick with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK all season long for handicapping information here in the NOTEBOOK, and BIG, JUICY WINNERS from A HANDICAPPING LEGEND!

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