The Pittsburgh Pirates are in Minnesota for a weekend series with the Twins. The Pirates carry a 9-10 record overall, while Minnesota has struggled out of the gate at 6-11 and has lost four in a row. Following another playoff appearance in which they were swept, there hasn’t been any good news from the Twins on the young season.
The coolest thing for Minnesota, though, has been the continued strong play of Nelson Cruz. He’s now 40 years of age and has already crushed six home runs with a .359 average through the first few weeks. Age is not slowing him down.
Minnesota is dealing with a few injuries, with Andrelton Simmons and Max Kepler both on the 10-day IL. But Byron Buxton is crushing home runs and batting .432. Now 27 years of age, this is the type of production the Twins have waited a long time for with Buxton.
Pittsburgh being 9-10 is a solid way to open the year. But as we have just learned from the Oakland Athletics, the first few weeks really don’t matter too much. Oakland started 0-6 and all of a sudden is in the midst of an 11-game win streak. Pittsburgh has some terrific hitters like Colin Moran and Bryan Reynolds leading the way for the offense.
Richard Rodriguez has allowed just one hit and no runs in his eight innings, recording three saves. Not bad.
The MLB odds have the Pirates moneyline at +139 with the Twins listed at -154. The over/under team total is eight runs, slightly favoring the under.
Pirates Sending JT Brubaker to the Mound
So far so good for JT Brubaker, dominating through his first couple of starts in 2021. In his first three outings, he’s posted a 2-0 record with a 1.76 ERA. Averaging 5.03 innings per appearance, he’s allowed three runs on 11 hits.
Brubaker has struck out 18 while walking just five. He went 1-3 with a 4.94 ERA during his rookie campaign across 11 appearances (nine starts). So, to see him playing at this level has been terrific. He’s been able to keep things together with the back end of the starting rotation. A team is only as good as it’s third and fourth starting pitchers.
J.A. Happ Seeks First Win for Twins
Now 38 years of age, J.A. Happ has been around for what seems like forever, now pitching another season in Minnesota. He’s set to take the mound for the third time in 2021 and has yet to have a decision on those first two appearances.
Happ has lasted 8.2 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He’s struck out seven and walked four, surrendering one home run to this point. He’s the No. 5 starter in what has been an overall solid rotation in Minnesota. Michael Pineda has been the leading man with a 1.00 ERA to date.
Offense will Guide Pirates to Victory
Happ is not somebody you can be consistently relying on to win you games. There’s a reason he’s now the fifth starter, and he’ll look every bit like one today. This is a game Minnesota will be losing on his watch.
Moran and Adam Frazier will both come up with multiple hits while the team crushes multiple home runs at Target Field. A loss for Minnesota here will drop them to 6-12 for the season.
When making your MLB bet, take the Pirates moneyline and hitting the over to beat the eight-run team total.
The Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates +139 | Over 8 runs