July 6 MLB Preview — Milwaukee Brewers at Pittsburgh Pirates

(Josh Bell photo courtesy Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

This is the full preview(s) as seen on the Winners and Whiners and Stat Salt websites. The confidence rating for all picks on a scale from 1 to 5 is in parentheses.

Note: The 5/5 does NOT represent the best overall pick of the day’s games when there are multiple games, simply the best pick(s) from each individual game.

When and Where: Saturday, July 6, PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pa., 4:05 p.m. EDT.

The Milwaukee Brewers may have caught a break for Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are turning to rookie Dario Agrazal in a pinch with scheduled starter Trevor Williams set to be placed on the paternity list.

Houser again bids for first win since joining rotation

Christian Yelich, who leads the majors with 31 homers and is the top seed for next week’s Home Run Derby during the All-Star break, showed he was primed for the contest during batting practice before Friday’s series opener with a few blasts that completely left PNC Park.

He entered Friday’s series opener two hits shy of 100 for the season and 12 for 37 (.324) with two homers and eight extra-base hits in 10 games versus Pittsburgh.

Adrian Houser (2-2, 3.26 ERA) gets his third turn in Milwaukee’s rotation since stepping in last month and could be pitching for a permanent spot in this outing for the second half of the season.

The right-hander fared better in his second one Monday night in Cincinnati, giving up three runs — all coming on a pair of sixth-inning home runs — in five-plus innings before the Brewers rallied for an 8-6 win.

Houser is 0-2 with a 7.62 ERA in four starts overall, with opponents batting .368 with 21 hits in his 13 innings. He made two relief appearances versus Pittsburgh last month, tossing three scoreless innings and picking up the victory June 1 in a 12-10 Brewers win in Pittsburgh.

Ryan Braun was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game due to a knee injury and is day-to-day for the final two games of this series.

Agrazal continues shuttle between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis

Agrazal (1-0, 2.70) will be officially recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis prior to the game to make his third major league start. The right-hander has been shuttling back and forth between Pittsburgh and Indianapolis over the past three weeks, with this being the third time the Pirates have brought him back for a spot start.

Agrazal is getting this opportunity because scheduled starter Trevor Williams will be placed on the paternity list. While Agrazal is coming off his first major league win in his last start after beating Houston on June 26, the Brewers may be breathing a sigh of relief considering Williams went 3-0 in as many starts against them last year while throwing 20 shutout innings and scattering seven hits.

The 24-year-old Agrazal pitched six innings against the Astros in picking up his first big-league victory, yielding a solo homer and four other hits. This will be the Panamanian’s first career appearance in Pittsburgh after making his first two starts on the road.

Notable Trends:

The Pirates are:

  • 1-8 in their last nine games vs. the Brewers.
  • 4-9 in their last 13 games vs. NL Central opponents.
  • 1-5 in their last six Saturday games.

The Brewers are:

  • 9-2 in their last 11 games when their opponents allow five or more runs in the previous game.
  • 5-1 in their last six road games vs. the Pirates.
  • 4-1 in their last five Saturday games.

5-Star Pick!!!!!

Brewers UNDER 5.5 runs (-125)

A bit of a switch in terms of the teams when taking the under, but the hedge is the Brewers help Houser just enough to win and come under the number. Friday night’s win marked just the second time in 11 games they scored more than four runs, and though not facing Williams, facing an unknown quantity in Agrazal could result in some early struggles before scoring late.

4-Star Pick!!!!

Brewers ML (-136)

The late switch in pitchers by the Pirates is enough to swing this pick to the Brewers, who did well to avoid the kind of morale-sapping loss Friday night that could have been a cloud over them for the rest of this series.

The offense finally broke out of its doldrums with that four-run eighth, and there is optimism Jesus Aguilar can at least follow up his two-hit game with another solid effort after ending a 14-game homerless drought.

Houser will have to tread lightly around Bell, who has five homers and 14 RBIs in his last five games after his three-run shot in the ninth Friday, but the belief is that anything is better than facing Williams for Milwaukee and it scratches out a win.

3-Star Picks!!!

UNDER 10.5 runs (-115) 

The line has ticked one-half run higher with the switch to Agrazal, and that hook offers just enough to stick with the under for this contest. The 10 runs in the final three innings snapped a five-game run for the under between the teams, but the under is still solidly trending for Milwaukee with an 8-2 mark in its last 10 games and a 7-1 record in its last eight versus righties.

The under was trending strongly behind Williams but has only split Agrazal’s two starts.

Pirates ML 1st 5 innings (+105)

The Brewers have not exactly provided all that much run support for Houser in the first five innings of his four starts, plating two runs in the last three and five overall. Pittsburgh has given Agrazal nine in his two outings and scored six against Houston, so there is enough to warrant a flyer on the home team at plus-money.

UNDER 5.5 runs first 5 innings (-115)

Again, this pick is dependent on the hook helping out because Houser has lasted five innings just once in his four starts. Agrazal may benefit from his home debut with a little extra pop in his fastball, and the five-inning under has hit in the last five games between the teams — they have failed to score more than four runs in any contest in that stretch.

UNDER 0.5 runs 1st inning (+111)

The “no” pick to a first-inning run, this goes against the grain to a degree since one or both teams have scored in the opening frame in six of the 11 matchups this year. Agrazal has allowed one first-inning run in his two starts, while Houser has been reached for runs just once in his four this year. It is a toss-up pick, so this is a slight reach for a plus-money shot.

 

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