Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM
Friday's Best Bet
Friday MLB Best Bet
Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates, 7:05 p.m. ET
It's been a tough few days for the Milwaukee Brewers, as after beating the Reds 8-6 in the series opener on Monday, Milwaukee lost three straight to their division rivals from Cincinnati, two of which were by a single run, and the most recent two losses saw Milwaukee get blanked as well.
For a team that's strength lies with the bats, to be shutout in two consecutive games stings, especially when it's against a division rival and the Brewers end up losing ground on other division rivals as well.
Friday sees Milwaukee head to Pittsburgh for yet another NL Central clash before the All-Star break, and first and foremost, Milwaukee needs to find a way to scratch across some runs. They enter the weekend tied with the Cubs atop the division, but only hold a 3.5-game lead over last place Cincinnati, so any separation they can get going into the break would be welcomed. Can the Brewers get the job done on Friday, or will the bats remain cold and the losing continue?
MLB Odds: Milwaukee (-111) vs Pittsburgh (+103); Total set at 10.5
The Pirates have their own tough loss to rebound from as they were handed a beatdown by the Cubs on July 4th (11-3). But that was the only loss Pittsburgh suffered in that four-game set with Chicago, as they've now won six of their last nine overall to be involved in the NL Central race as well. Two of those three losses did come in Milwaukee last weekend, so there is a bit of redemption on the Pirates minds, and they'll turn ot Steven Brault tonight to get this series started on the right foot.
Brault squared off against Milwaukee's Zach Davies last weekend in what could be classified as a pitcher's duel given the 2-1 final score, but neither starter managed to go more than 5.1 IP in that outing, so that classification can be a bit misleading.
For Brault, his 4.2 innings of work were solid in the sense that he only allowed a single run to cross the plate, and it was his third straight outing (and fifth in the last six) of not allowing a HR. Brault has been a guy that's had trouble keeping the opponent off the scoreboard at times this year, as opponents have scored 5.1 runs per game against the Pirates in his eight starts this year, and if it weren't for the 6.5 runs/game he gets in support from his teammates, chances are Pittsburgh's 5-3 SU record in those eight starts would be a lot worse.
Of those two ends of the spectrum, it's hard not to believe that the support Brault gets is more likely to dry up before he starts holding down the opposition better, and that's got to be somewhat problematic for Pittsburgh backers tonight. Pittsburgh is just 2-5 SU in his last seven starts against a winning team, and while the Pirates have been playing some great baseball lately, the fact that they are just 2-8 SU against Milwaukee this season looms large over this series as well.
Davies is a guy that's looking to find his better version of himself too these days, as three of his last four starts have been quite rough prior to being on the winning end of that 2-1 win over the Pirates last weekend. Milwaukee is 3-0 SU in Davies' starts against the Pirates this year, and while that's all well and good to lean on for Brewers backers tonight, the fact that this is Davies' fourth start against Pittsburgh already this year has to be slightly concerning.
Situationally, these quick-turnaround pitching matchups are a scenario where I do like to lean towards flipping the results from the first meeting on both the side and total, but for tonight's game, only doing the latter makes much more sense.
Backing Pittsburgh on some level does make sense given that they should finally be able to have significant success against Davies in the fourth matchup, but trusting Brault to keep this Brewers offense down is tough to do, even if they are off two consecutive shutout efforts. And that overall Brewers record against the Pirates this year is cause to hesitate as well on a Pirates ML play.
So it's only the total I'm looking to flip here, as I doubt we see a 2-1 type game with these two starters again for a variety of reasons. One, trusting a slumping Davies and Brault overall to keep the bats at bay is tough to begin with, and with Pittsburgh playing better baseball these days and averaging 6.77 runs per game over this 6-3 SU nine-game stretch, asking them to bounce back after taking a woodshed beating isn't a big ask.
Milwaukee's bats are happy to be out of Cincinnati after failing to score a run in the final two games, and while that can't be too encouraging to some for an 'over' play here, how likely is it that the Brewers offense is completely held down three games in a row? Especially against a guy like Brault who's given up more hits (60) then he's got innings pitched (56.2) this season.
With Pittsburgh on a 20-5-2 O/U run at home, 4-0-1 O/U in Brault's last five starts at home, and four of the last five meetings between these two in Pittsburgh cashing 'over' tickets, bettors should look for plenty of runs in this game tonight as we should get both teams scoring 6+.
Best Bet: Over 10.5