Tuesday, June 28, 2016

MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Seattle Mariners - 6/28/2016 - 10:10 PM EST

MLB Preview: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Seattle Mariners - Date: 6/28/2016 Time: 10:10 P.M. EST Venue: Safeco Field   SEATTLE -- Misery loves company. Handicapper Return on Investment. Two teams with dying pennant aspirations will meet at Safeco Field under similar circumstances Tuesday night. Profitable MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Pittsburgh Pirates and Seattle Mariners have fallen from baseball's elite and are just trying to stay afloat in the playoff race. What is Sports Handicapping. The Pirates (37-40) were trying to keep pace with the National League Central-leading Chicago Cubs, baseball's hottest team, through April and May and were doing a decent job of weathering the storm. MLB Baseball Handicappers. The Pirates were in position to make a run at the end of May, but they've since fallen three games under .500. Monday afternoon's loss to the Dodgers left Pittsburgh with an 8-18 record in June. Winning Picks. The Pirates featured one of the best offenses in baseball through the opening month of the season but have since fallen on hard times. Yet, they feel like they're not that far removed from the team that opened the season with four consecutive wins and closed out the month of April with a six-game winning streak." I don't know if we're getting the big hit like we were in April or May," shortstop Jordy Mercer told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette over the weekend, "but we're still putting good at-bats up." Situational hitting has been a big part of the Pirates' struggles, but the starting rotation has probably been the most glaring issue. Pittsburgh ranks second-to-the-last in the NL in both ERA (5.57) and opponent's batting average (.285) during games played in June. Seattle (38-38) has its own set of pitching problems heading into the series. Free MLB Baseball Picks. The starting rotation went through its most recent cycle without three of the five starters, while ace Felix Hernandez continues to be sidelined by a leg injury. The over-taxed bullpen subsequently has fallen apart, leading a spate of roster moves over the weekend to bring in fresh arms. The good news for both teams is that help could be on the way. Seattle starter Wade Miley is expected back from the disabled list to start Wednesday's game against the Pirates, while Taijuan Walker (sore foot) might not be far behind. Walker could be on the mound as soon as Thursday night, for the start of the Baltimore series. And manager Scott Servais sounded as encouraged about Hernandez's return as he had in a while." He's starting to map out his plan (to ret urn)," Servais told reporters before Saturday night's win. "That's always a good thing." The Pirates got an encouraging sign over the weekend as well, with staff ace Gerrit Cole throwing from the mound for the first time in two weeks. Cole is recovering from a strained triceps, although there is still no hard timetable for his return." He's a competitor," pitching coach Ray Searage told The Post-Gazette. "He's itching to get back out there." Left-hander Jonathan Niese, who is 0-3 over his past three starts, is scheduled to take the mound for the Pirates. The Mariners will go with struggling veteran Hisashi Iwakuma, who has served up three home runs in three of his past five starts. The Mariners have gone 8-17 in June after spending most of May atop the American League West standings. Texas continues to lead the AL West and the Houston Astros have gotten hot to move ahead of Seattle in the standings.