MLB: Handicapping signs point to Johnson, Florida
The Marlins and Pirates continue a 4-game set in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night and so far the teams have split two 6-run decisions, with Florida taking the latest encounter in shutout fashion on Tuesday night. That win, a key system, several strong trends, and stud pitcher Josh Johnson going for the Marlins are good signs of a potential repeat performance on Wednesday night. This game is certainly worthy of your consideration, both on the money line and run line. Sportsbook.com currently lists Florida as a -162 favorite, with an accompanying run line of -1.5 (-105).
Johnson didn't look anything like a Cy Young Award contender his last time out, failing to escape the fourth inning in his worst start in more than three years. The right-hander gave up six runs and 10 hits over 3 2-3 innings, failing to record a strikeout in a 7-2 loss at Cincinnati.
Following that rough outing with another seems rather unlikely, as he faces the Pirates and their NL-worst offense. Johnson's ERA has dropped from easily the best in the majors to fourth, but the Marlins (58-60) won't be surprised if he rebounds Wednesday at PNC Park. Pittsburgh is averaging 3.43 runs and hitting .241, both last in the NL.
The Pirates (40-79) mustered six hits against Ricky Nolasco and two relievers in a 6-0 loss Tuesday that evened the four-game set at 1-all. The Marlins held a closed-door meeting after Monday's 7-1 loss.
It's no surprise Pittsburgh has struggled to hit the premier pitching in the NL, but the numbers are still staggering. The nine pitchers other than Johnson that make up the league's top 10 in ERA are 8-2 with a 1.22 ERA in 12 starts against the Pirates.
Aside from who Pittsburgh faces, the presence of Ross Ohlendorf (1-9, 3.95) on the mound seems to guarantee the Pirates' bats will go cold. No starter who has pitched 50 innings has received less support than the 2.24 runs Ohlendorf averages.
The following money line system from FoxSheets gives Florida about an 80% chance of winning tonight, based upon Johnson's prowess and Pittsburgh's offensive ineptitude.
Play Against - All underdogs with a money line of +125 to +175 (PITTSBURGH) - bad offensive team (<=4.1 runs/game) against a good starting pitcher (ERA<=3.70) (NL), with a decent bullpen whose WHIP is 1.350 to 1.450 on the season. (68-17 over the last 5 seasons.) (80%, +40.9 units. Rating = 3*)
As indicated earlier, this is also a good potential run line spot, and a completely separate StatFox system will be looking for its seventh straight win behind the Marlins this evening:
Play On - Road teams against a 1.5 run line (FLORIDA) - below average hitting team (AVG <=.255) against a decent starting pitcher (ERA=3.70 to 4.20) -NL, with a starting pitcher whose strikes out 5 or more batters per start. (47-13 over the last 5 seasons.) (78.3%, +33.5 units. Rating = 4*)
The situation's record this season is: (6-0, +6.1 units).
Over the last 3 seasons the situation's record is: (40-8, +31.9 units).
Since 1997 the situation's record is: (95-46, +37.5 units).
The powerful information doesn't stop there though, as numerous trends seem to indicate that Pittsburgh is in over its head for tonight's game:
• RUSSELL is 28-69 (-26.7 Units) against the money line vs. an NL starting pitcher whose WHIP is 1.250 or better as the manager of PITTSBURGH. The average score was PITTSBURGH 3.2, OPPONENT 5.1 - (Rating = 1*)
Of course, stranger things than a mild baseball upset on a Wednesday night in August have occurred in sports, but it certainly does look like as solid of a play as they come. We'll see what happens when the Marlins and Pirates throw out the first pitch at 7:05 PM ET tonight from PNC Park.
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