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National League action on Wednesday night as the Pittsburgh Pirates travel to Miami to take on the Florida Marlins. Pittsburgh was the worst team in the NL last season and has shown some improvement this year as their young talent starts to produce. Curiously, they’ve been better on the road in the early going than at home. The Marlins have one of the most talented young pitching rotations in baseball—at least ‘on paper’. To this point, however, they’ve not quite lived up to the hype and are in the middle of the pack in the MLB team ERA rankings.
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle is very hopeful about the current roster—the Pirates have a ton of young talent with four everyday starters 25 and younger who all have All Star potential. Second baseman Neil Walker, outfielder Jose Tabata, third baseman Pedro Alvarez and center fielder Andrew McCutchen have superstar potential and at very least could be solid players for years to come. They’ll be joined by free agent signees Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz to form the core of the everyday lineup this season.
The pitching staff will be an issue once again this season, though there are some good prospects in the minors who are expected to make an impact a season or two down the road. Charlie Morton will get the start here for the Pirates and he’s been exceptional in the early part of the season with a 2-0 record and a 1.64 ERA. The Marlins will counter with Josh Johnson who has been even better—Johnson has always been a solid pitcher but is starting to look like one of the most dominating hurlers in baseball. In three starts he’s 2-0 allowing a total of 8 hits, 3 ER and chalking up 18 strikeouts for a 1.35 ERA. The big news this season is that Johnson has added a curveball to his arsenal making him even more difficult for opposing hitters to figure out.
Despite the Pirates winning road record and Morton’s solid performance to date we just can’t recommend betting against Josh Johnson with the way he’s pitching. The Pirates have some talented young hitters, but they’ll likely be no match for Johnson. The Marlins will be a big favorite in this game but there’s no other way to play it. A better wagering position could be the UNDER—the Marlins aren’t a very high scoring team and currently rank #19 in runs scored (averaging 4.0 per game). With two solid pitchers going head to head runs should be at a premium.