BettorIQ’s MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates
BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. We will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective leading up to the start of the season.
2019 Record: 69-93
2019 Profits: -14.5 units
2020 Win Total: 25.5
2020 Odds to Win NL Central: +4000
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +8500
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +25000
Betting Positives: It’s extremely tricky to find any considering the lack of talent and the obvious rebuilding efforts. Bettors should keep an eye on starting pitchers Joe Musgrove and Mitch Keller. Musgrove quietly posted MLB’s 22nd-best FIP (3.84) among qualified starters last season. While not an ace, he’s a viable no. 2/3-level NL starter. Keller isn’t an ace either but has the potential to be one. The organization’s prized prospect took plenty of lumps last year (48 IP, 7.13 ERA) but flashed some impressive peripherals (28.6% K-rate, 3.19 FIP). Both pitchers should be able to keep the Pirates in games while carrying some juicy plus-prices.
Betting Negatives: The list is long. Imagine a rotation of Musgrove, Keller, Chris Archer, and Jameson Taillon. Not bad, right? Well, Archer and Taillon are unlikely to pitch due to injuries leaving stop-gaps Steven Brault, Trevor Williams, and Derek Holland to fill the void. Next up is recent news of Gregory Polanco testing positive for COVID-19 and closer Keone Kela out for an undisclosed reason. Both should return at some point but with only 60 games, any absence can have a significant impact. Then there’s the 80-game suspension of reliable reliever Edgar Santana (66.1 IP, 3.26 ERA). Bringing in GM Ben Cherington and first-year manager Derek Shelton could be a positive long term, but the current reality is the Pirates will field one of if not the weakest team in the National League to start the season.
Handicapper’s Take: With such a short season, bettors simply don’t have much time to “test the waters” with bottom-tier teams with the hopes they can surprise. For the last few seasons, the Tigers, Orioles, and Marlins have posted some historically bad results. To their credit, the Pirates have avoided being lumped into that conversation — a scrappy, small market team that always managed to remain semi-competitive. But that was accomplished with a handful of upper-tier talent like Starling Marte (Arizona), Gerrit Cole (remember him?), Archer, and Taillon. All that remains is Josh Bell and some up-and-coming talent that will have trouble really moving the needle in 2020. A play on Pittsburgh UNDER its season win total looks like the best betting approach.