The Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates start a three-game series at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon, so I’ve prepared the best betting pick and tips for the opening clash of this NL Central set. The Cubs and Pirates already met in a three-game series in Chicago, and Pittsburgh lost 2-1 despite a huge surprise on an Opening Day.
After a 5-3 victory as +190 underdogs, the Pirates lost to the Cubs 5-1 as +147 dogs and 4-3 as +173 dogs. Chicago opened as a -140 road fave for Thursday’s contest, according to DraftKings Sportsbook, while the totals sit at 9.0 runs.
The Cubs desperately need to improve offensively
The Chicago Cubs entered their Wednesday’s clash against the Brewers with the worst batting average in the majors (.132). Also, their slugging percentage was the fourth-worst in the MLB (.316), so it’s no strange the Cubs have struggled mightily over their previous two outings.
After a 4-0 defeat in the second contest of a three-game home series against Milwaukee, the Cubs suffered a 4-2 loss in closer on Wednesday. Brandon Workman allowed a three-run homer in the 10th inning, while the Cubs recorded a paltry three hits and didn’t deserve to get anything from this clash.
Jake Arrieta re-joined the Cubs in the offseason, and the 35-year-old righty was impressive in his first start in 2021. He struck out five through six innings of a one-run ball and earned a victory over Tyler Anderson and the Pirates on April 3. Arrieta is 13-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 24 career starts against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates hope to right the ship at home
The Pittsburgh Pirates (1-5) are on a five-game losing streak following another embarrassment in Cincinnati on Wednesday afternoon. They got swept by the Reds in a three-game series, and after a 14-1 defeat in the middle contest, the Pirates suffered an 11-4 loss in the closer.
Pittsburgh allowed 16 runs through its first four games of the new season, and the Pirates’ pitching staff fell apart in each of their previous two showings. On the other side of the ball, the Pirates are batting just .196 (25th in the majors) and slugging .350 (21st).
Tyler Anderson will get his second starting nod of the season Thursday, and the 31-year-old left-hander suffered a loss at the Cubs last week. He fanned seven in five innings of work while surrendering three earned runs on five hits and a couple of walks. Anderson is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA in four career starts against the Cubs.
- 0-5 in the last five games against NL Central
The Cubs hit very well against Tyler Anderson last week, and I’m expecting more of the same in this one. Chicago’s bats need to make some amends after a horrible start of the season, and there’s no better chance for redemption than a matchup with the Pirates’ pitching staff.
Therefore, I’m backing the Cubs to outlast the Pirates in the opening game of the series, as -140 moneyline odds seem attractive. Despite all their offensive woes, the Cubs look like a better team than Pittsburgh on both sides of the ball.
Pick: Take Chicago Cubs at -140
Seven of the previous eight encounters between the Cubs and Pirates went in the under including the last two, and each of those eight contests produced eight or fewer runs in total. Also, the under is 17-3 in the Cubs’ last 20 outings as favorites, and it is 11-2-1 in the Pirates’ last 14 outings at home.
I’ve mentioned above how inefficient these two teams have been thus far, so betting on the under seems like a logical move.
Pick: Go under 9.0 runs at -120