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MLB Betting Preview - Astros at Pirates

April 15, 2009

MLB Betting Preview - Houston Astros (Hampton) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Ohlendorf) 7:05 ET

By Matt Fargo

You know your pitching staff is in rough shape when Mike Hampton is part of the rotation. Hampton used to be a great pitcher and taking nothing away from him but his time has come and gone and injuries have been the cause.

He has started only 14 games over the last four seasons and while his lone start so far this year was decent, it was hardly impressive. He allowed three runs on four hits and four walks in five innings in picking up the loss in St. Louis.

Bet Baseball!He has absolutely dominated the Pirates throughout his career, going 10-3 with a 2.71 ERA in 16 starts including four of his last six starts against them where he allowed no runs.

However, he has not faced Pittsburgh since 2003 so any history that he has is completely meaningless.

He did finish strong last season with the Braves but he was unimpressive in the spring and he has looked to already have carried that into the regular season.

The Pirates counter with Ross Ohlendorf who is certainly no household name but he could turn into one. He held the Cardinals scoreless through six innings and ended up charged with two runs and seven his in six-plus.

He only struck out one and seldom came close to the advertised velocity in the high 90's, but he walked only one and seemed fully in control throughout. He got the loss but that came against Chris Carpenter who happened to be better that day.

Ohlendorf will face an offense that has yet to produce. The Astros are averaging only 2.3 rpg and are hitting only .234 thus far.

The offense was supposed to carry this team and the 1-6 record shows why they have not been successful.

The pitching staff has an ERA of 6.45 on the year including 5.19 from the bullpen and with Hampton on the hill, that bullpen will no doubt be used tonight.

The Pirates also fall into a solid situation. Play on favorites with a money line of -110 or higher that have allowed four runs or less in five straight games going up against an opponent after a loss by six runs or more.

This situation is 66-21 (75.9 percent) over the last five seasons with the average run differential being +2.1 rpg.

This may seem like a big number to be putting down on the Pirates but until Houston starts getting things going, which doesn't look like anytime soon, the value is still there.

Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates -109 available at

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