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MLB Preview: Red Sox vs. Pirates odds, picks, prediction

The Action Network’s Michael Arinze expects the Pirates offense to continue to struggle Thursday night

Josh Winckowski of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 12, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Josh Winckowski of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 12, 2022 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)Read moreMike Ehrmann / Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox are keeping their playoff hopes alive by a thread. A three-game winning streak brought them back to .500 (59-59). Thursday night, Boston can clinch a series sweep of the Pirates on the road.

Josh Winckowski gets the start for the visitors. Pittsburgh will counter with JT Brubaker, who has pitched better than his numbers show.

While Brubaker might be well overdue for some luck, he’ll need the Pirates’ offense to come to life to have a chance.

Red Sox vs. Pirates MLB odds

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Moneyline: BOS (-154) vs. PIT (+130)

Spread: BOS -1.5 (+112) vs. PIT +1.5 (-134)

Total: Over 8.5 (-114) | Under 8.5 (-106)

» READ MORE: Early Look at NFL Week 1 Lines

Red Sox vs. Pirates probable pitchers

Josh Winckowski (5-5, 4.69 ERA) vs. JT Brubaker (2-10, 4.45 ERA)

Although Brubaker’s advanced numbers suggest some upside, there’s not much to be optimistic about if the Pirates’ offense doesn’t awaken from its swoon. Brubaker carries a 3.80 FIP with a 3.96 xFIP. In his three years in the majors, he’s been reliable, boasting a career 9.28 K/9 ratio.

Brubaker isn’t the problem for the Pirates. It’s their offense.

According to FanGraphs, Pittsburgh ranks 28th with a below-average wRC+ value of 83. And over the last 30 days, the Pirates have been even worse, with a value of 71.

Pittsburgh is mired in a six-game losing streak and it scored more than three runs only once during that span. In the one game where the offense came to life, the visiting Pirates took a 7-6 lead into the bottom of the ninth against the Giants only to give up a walk-off two-run home run to Thairo Estrada.

Despite the loss, the Pirates looked ready to break out of their funk, but even a day off in between couldn’t help them turn things around.

The Pirates are winless in Brubaker’s past six starts and scored more than three runs just once in those six games.

The Pirates might already be making plans for the offseason. As for Boston, there’s still some hope of postseason baseball as it trails by four games in the wildcard race.

Winckowski is in better form, with Boston winning each of his past three starts. The 24-year-old rookie battled back after a span in which he lost four straight decisions. He’s been able to build off an outing three starts ago when he allowed two earned runs against the Brewers in a 7-2 victory.

Given the slump the Pirates are in now, I think they’ll be at a disadvantage facing a pitcher they’ve never stepped inside the box against.

Boston has won five straight vs. the Pirates, and I think that number will get to six on Thursday night.

Red Sox vs. Pirates pick

Red Sox ML (-154)

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