The 2020 Major League Baseball season is set to begin on Thursday, as sports start to return, but most teams will begin their season on Friday. That is the case for the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals as the two NL Central Division rivals will meet up in St. Louis.
The Cardinals are the reigning NL Central Division champions, and they present a strong case to win the division again this season. Pittsburgh finished in last place in the division a season ago, and they appear to be headed for another last place finish in 2020.
Joe Musgrove will take the ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates, and he will be opposed by Jack Flaherty of the St. Louis Cardinals. Without a ton of spring training experience, it’s hard to predict what each team will look like so early in the season.
FanDuel Sportsbook has the St. Louis Cardinals at -198 over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the season opener on Friday night.
Cardinals Need Big Season From Flaherty
Jack Flaherty has emerged as the ace of the St. Louis Cardinals staff, and he will be given the ball on opening day. Flaherty went 11-8 with a sparkling 2.75 earned run average in 2019, and he has all the stuff that it takes to be an ace in this league.
St. Louis does have some question marks in their bullpen, and they will need a big outing from their ace in this game. If the Cardinals can give Flaherty some run support, he will be good enough to shut down the opposition and deliver his team a win.
The Cardinals will be without Marcell Ozuna this season, and that could create a huge hole in their everyday lineup. St. Louis struggled to score runs at times a season ago, and they will need to find a way to be more productive this season.
Paul Goldschmidt and Matt Carpenter both appeared to take a step back in 2019, and that has to be a real concern for the Cardinals. St. Louis does have a number of young prospects expected to contribute in 2020, but it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.
Can the Pirates Score?
The Pittsburgh Pirates were one of the worst offensive teams a season ago, and they are projected to be much worse in 2020. Starling Marte is now a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaving a massive hole in the everyday lineup.
Joe Musgrove will get the ball for the Pirates on Opening Day, but he isn’t exactly considered a dominant starting pitcher. Musgrove went just 11-12 a season ago, but did have a decent earned run average at 4.44.
Scoring runs will be a huge concern for the Pirates this season, especially without any real home run threats. The Pirates will be trying to string a bunch of hits together, and that isn’t a real solid strategy against a pitcher like Jack Flaherty.
Cardinals Win Season Opener
With such a short regular season, anything is possible, but this game seems pretty easy to predict. The Pittsburgh Pirates are expected to be one of the worst teams in the National League this season, while the St. Louis Cardinals are a favorite to win the Central Division.
Pittsburgh will be hoping for a dominant performance from Joe Musgrove, but the Cardinals also have Jack Flaherty on the mound. Flaherty is the much better pitcher in this matchup, and he should be able to dominate a very weak Pirates lineup.
Head to FanDuel Sportsbook and bet on the St. Louis Cardinals -198 over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the season opener.