July 27 MLB Preview — Pittsburgh Pirates (46-57) at New York Mets (48-55)

(Jeff McNeil photo courtesy John Hefti/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 27, Citi Field, Queens, N.Y., 7:10 p.m. EDT.

A pair of pitchers trying to build on positive outings collide in Queens on Saturday night as Steven Matz and the New York Mets continue their series versus Trevor Williams and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Williams tries to build on solid previous start for Bucs

Williams (3-3, 4.96 ERA) is looking to build on his first positive start in more than a month’s worth of outings after missing time with a strained oblique.

Williams, who was pushed back two days from his scheduled Saturday start due to the flu, limited St. Louis to one earned run and two overall in five innings of Pittsburgh’s eventual 6-5, 10-inning loss Monday. The right-hander matched a season high with seven strikeouts while throwing 57 of his 90 pitches for strikes.

“I wish I could tell you I was at 100%,” Williams told the TribLive. “I got everything prepared as well as I could to go out there and give the team a chance to win and give the team some distance.”

Williams has given the Mets little but misery in winning both of his career starts against them, conceding one run in 13 innings after scattering five hits in six frames of a 5-0 victory 364 days ago.

Matz’s winless streak hits six starts but coming off solid outing for Mets

Matz (5-6, 4.80 ERA) has not won since June 8, going 0-2 with a 6.91 ERA in his last six starts, but the left-hander has something to build on from his last outing.

Matz tossed six solid innings Sunday at San Francisco, holding the Giants to two runs while striking out six. Though he was long gone by the time the Mets absorbed a 3-2, 12-inning defeat, the southpaw thinks he has found a path to success by using his slider more.

“It’s just been effective for me,” Matz told The New York Post. “I talked with Wilson [Ramos] and that combo, fastballs in, cutters in, sliders in, it’s just been effective for me, so just sticking with it.”

Matz is making his first start at Citi Field in nearly a month and is hoping to rediscover his early season form there. He is 3-0 with a 2.61 ERA in seven starts, striking out 44 in 38 innings.

He went 1-0 in two middling starts against the Pirates last year, serving up three homers while yielding seven runs in 13 innings.

Notable Trends

The Mets are:

  • 7-2 in Matz’s last nine home starts.
  • 5-1 in Matz’s last six starts pitching on five days of rest.
  • 20-8 in their last 28 home games vs. sub-.500 teams.

The Pirates are:

  • 1-4 in Williams’ last five road starts.
  • 0-7 in their last seven games vs. starters with a plus-1.30 WHIP.
  • 15-37 in their last 52 road games vs. left-handed starters.

*****5-Star Pick*****

Mets OVER 4.5 runs (-125)

This pick is more about Pittsburgh’s struggling pitchers than it is the Mets offense. Though Williams did have a good start last time out, the eventual 6-5, 10-inning Pirates loss was one of nine occasions they have given up five or more runs in their 14 games since the All-Star break.

Pittsburgh has a 5.34 ERA since the break, with its starters posting a 6.23 mark. Look for the Mets to have just enough offense to clear the hook.

****4-Star Pick****

Mets -0.5 runs first 5 innings (-105)

This is more of an anti-Pirates pick than a pro-Matz and Mets one. Pittsburgh has trailed at the five-inning mark in its last four games, gone 1-5-1 in its last seven road games, and has led just twice since the All-Star break (2-10-4).

The Mets have trailed just once at the midway point in their last eight games (4-1-3).

***3-Star Picks***

Mets ML (-136)

This game has the feel of a toss-up as both pitchers are coming off “half-full” starts in building momentum for the final two months of the season. Matz gets the nod here by finding something in terms of his pitching with his increased slider usage.

Williams’ limited but successful track record versus the Mets gives pause to going anywhere beyond the money line, but the hedge is Matz is able to build on his last outing better than Williams.

OVER 9 runs (-121) 

Again, another toss-up to a degree. The over has trended solidly for Pittsburgh when it comes to facing left-handed starters, hitting in the last five road games and going 12-3-1 in the last 16 overall.

The over has also trended of late between the teams, going 9-4-3 in the last 16 matchups entering this contest. It is also 5-2-2 in New York’s last nine games versus NL Central teams.

OVER 5 runs first 5 innings (-121)

A 50/50 pick to a degree because both teams have been middling with regards to the over/under. Pittsburgh has been more streaky, with the over going 3-0-1 in the last four after the under came through in its previous four games.

Despite the under going 3-1-2 in New York’s last six games, the Mets have scored two or more runs in the first five innings in that span. Williams’ and Matz’s inconsistencies give the over the nod.

UNDER 0.5 runs/NO 1st inning run (-105) 

A slightly contrarian pick as the expectation is Matz, despite his 10.06 first-inning ERA, will toss a scoreless opening frame for the fourth straight start and extend the Mets’ run of not allowing a first-inning run to 14 games.

Williams has also been a solid starter on the road, conceding just one first-inning run in his eight starts and none in his last four.

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