The Pittsburgh Pirates are just half a game out of first place in the NL Central, and they have a favorable road date with the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Seattle is off to a slow start in 2023, hovering around .500 at 27-25 through its first 52 games. However, that’s now why I see this as a valuable spot for the Pirates.
Instead, it’s the pitching matchup, as the Pirates have youngster Luis Ortiz (1-2, 4.02 ERA) on the bump against Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales (4-1, 5.68 ERA).
The Mariners somehow are winning Gonzales’ starts even though he’s been largely ineffective this season, but I think that can come to an end on Sunday.
Let’s break down why with the odds and my best bet:
Pirates vs. Mariners odds, run line and total
Pirates vs. Mariners prediction and pick
Yes, the Mariners are 6-3 in Gonzales’ nine starts, but he’s really struggled since late April, raising his ERA from 3.32 to 5.68 over his last five outings.
The lefty doesn't have a ton of swing and miss stuff, as evidenced by his whiff percentage (13th percentile in MLB) and strikeout percentage (10th percentile) this season.
The Pirates have actually hit left-handed pitching well in 2023, ranking 10th in MLB in OPS against lefties.
As for Ortiz, this is just his fourth start of the season, but he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of them.
Ortiz was terrific in his last outing, holding the high-scoring offense in baseball, the Texas Rangers, to just two runs over 7.2 innings of work. Given Gonzales’ struggles over the last two seasons, I can’t help but trust Ortiz more early on.
Both of these teams rank in the top seven in baseball in bullpen ERA, so I’ll trust the starter I like more to get the win on Sunday.
Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.