Who doesn’t love some NL Central baseball? In this edition of division foes, the Pittsburgh Pirates will battle it out with the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field in the first matchup of a four-game set on Thursday. Join us for our MLB odds series, where our Pirates-Cubs prediction and pick will be made.
Heading into this one, the Pirates have dropped three straight and were ultimately swept against their other division rivals in the Milwaukee Brewers. Pittsburgh only managed to score five runs in the entirety of the series. Looking to keep the Cubs off of the scoreboard will be RHP Bryse Wilson, who has been nothing special in his first two starts.
The Cubs on the other hand have been as streaky as it gets, as Chicago had won back-to-back games against the Rockies and Rays before dropping the final two contests versus Tampa. In order to reverse that unsettling trend, the Cubs will call upon RHP Mark Leiter Jr., who saw himself get roughed up against Colorado in which he allowed seven runs in only three innings pitched.
Here are the Pirates-Cubs MLB odds, courtesy of FanDuel.
MLB Odds: Pirates-Cubs Odds
Pittsburgh Pirates: +1.5 (-150)
Chicago Cubs: -1.5 (+125)
Over: 9 (-104)
Under: 9 (-118)
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Why The Pirates Could Cover the Spread
The Pirates are due for a win soon, but if they play the way that they’ve played the previous few times out on the diamond, then they may be in for another rude awakening. After being outscored by the Brewers 15-5 and only scrounging up 17 hits, the Pirates have to find a way to put the pressure on Cubs’ pitching. As a team collectively through 12 games, Pittsburgh is only 20th in total runs scored with 40 but is surprisingly 10th in batting average with a .244 mark, suggesting that they are leaving way too many runners on base with the bats in their hands.
While it all hasn’t been bad, an encouraging playmaker has been third-baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who avoided an injury scare in the season opener and has raked a team-leading .326 since. At 5-7, the Pirates have shown their unstable ways in more ways than one, as they may be even less productive when on the mound.
Starting pitching has been a huge question mark in 2022 up to this point, as Pittsburgh arms have averaged a 4.72 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, two numbers that demonstrate the inability to pitch effectively in the Steel City. Wilson has been a part of these poor statistics, as the 24-year-old has not made it to the fifth inning in either one of his two starts. Pittsburgh still hasn’t received a quality start from their starters, as the Pirates’ bullpen is already stricken with fatigue. Even if the Pirates can get an ounce of production from the arms, then they may indeed have a shot in coming out victorious in this one.
Why The Cubs Could Cover the Spread
It has either been Go, Cubs, Go, or No, Cubs, No, thus far in the Windy City. Through 12 games, Chicago’s up and down play resonates with their 6-6 record. The reason for the Cubs’ average play? Well, similarly to the Pirates, it’s been a flurry of defective pitching efforts. In fact, Chicago’s 4.59 earned-run average is barely better than Pittsburgh’s mark, and the Cubs also have yet to record a quality start from the pitching staff.
This may be the time of year when “baseball experts” make way-too-early predictions on which teams look World Series Bound through the first couple weeks of the season, so fear not Cubbies fans. There is still way too much time to make adjustments. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. However, it is concerning, especially when guys like Marcus Stroman, a perennial All-Star in his career, has an 8.78 ERA in his couple of opening season starts.
Righty Mark Leiter Jr. can play a big part in turning this ship around against the Pirates on Thursday, as the veteran has only one start under his belt versus Pittsburgh back in 2017 where he gave up two runs on four hits over 5 1/3 innings as a member of the Phillies.
Luckily, the Cubs have been in the international spotlight thanks to Japanese sensation Seiya Suzuki, who has already broken a franchise record in reaching base in all 12 games he has appeared in. A five-time All-Star in Japan, the right fielder is mashing American pitching, as Suzuki is currently hitting .387 with four homers, 11 RBIs, and has even drawn 13 walks.
As a team, the reason why the Cubs may be at .500 could be in large part due to their batting, as they rank in the top ten when it comes to runs scored, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.
Final Pirates-Cubs Prediction & Pick
With both teams displaying heavy inconsistency thus far, it is probably best to stick with the Pirates +1.5 spread. Pittsburgh can’t be happy with how things played out against Milwaukee, so expect a better effort from the Pirates at Wrigley Field.
Final Pirates-Cubs Prediction & Pick: Pirates +1.5 (-150)