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Pittsburgh Pirates versus St. Louis Cardinals. Pirates try to chip away at the lead in NL Central

The Pittsburgh Pirates entered play as of May 6 with a 16-15 record, 4th in the NL Central. They will head to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals, second at the time with a record of 20-14. Trevor Williams is slated to start on the mound for the Pirates and Michael Wacha is scheduled to pitch for the Cardinals.

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Offensive comparisons

The Pirates have had a difficult time scoring runs all season, hitting just .232 with 26 home runs and 3.5 runs per game. Melky Cabrera leads the team with a .357 batting average and Josh Bell is the top run producer with eight home runs and 25 RBI. Jung Ho Kung and Starling Marte have added four home runs each, but neither are producing much in terms of batting average.

The Cardinals have been much more productive at the plate, hitting .265 with 43 home runs and averaging 5.1 runs per contest. Jose Martinez leads in batting average at .355, and Paul de Jong has been the best overall hitter at .336 with 14 doubles, six home runs and 15 RBI. Marcell Ozuna is off to an MVP type start, leading with 11 home runs and 30 RBI, while Paul Goldschmidt has provided nine home runs and 19 RBI.

Pitching comparisons

The Pirates have been one of the best teams in terms of staff ERA at 3.72 so far this season. Williams is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA and has allowed only three home runs and eight walks in 43 1/3 innings. Felipe Vazquez has been dominant at the closer, allowing only one earned run in 15 2/3 innings with nine saves and 26 strikeouts. Francisco Liriano and Kyle Crick have combined to allow only six earned runs in 24 2/3 innings.

St. Louis has been average on the mound with a staff ERA of 4.36. Wacha has struggled, despite having a 2-0 record. His ERA is 5.17 in large part due to allowing six home runs and 21 walks in 31 1/3 innings. While some members of the bullpen have scuffled, the Cardinals have had consistent production from Jordan Hicks, John Brebbia and John Gant. Hicks has nine saves and an ERA of 2.13. Brebbia and Gant have allowed a combined four earned runs in 41 1/3 innings.

Prediction

As of May 6, the Cardinals were in the midst of a four-game losing streak but had a 12-4 home record. The Pirates were solid 8-7 on the road. The key to this game could be the performance of Wacha. If he continues to struggle, it could wake the bats of the Pirates. The Cardinals should mount their average or more than five runs per game.  Pittsburgh could keep it close but if the Cardinals get the lead late, their bullpen has been stellar and will shut it down. Best bet is for the “over” and Cardinals to win the game.

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