The Pittsburgh Pirates don’t have any starting pitchers. That’s not entirely true, but they at least don’t have one for tonight’s matchup with the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Both the Cubs and the Pirates are coming off series victories, but the 66-60 Cubs are still in the race at the top of the NL Central and the 57-70 Pirates haven’t been involved in that since June.
With the Pirates unsure of who to pitch tonight, it’ll likely fall to the bullpen against Justin Steele. Steele will be making his 24th start for the Cubs and is 14-3 with a 2.80 ERA.
The Cubs need to use this four-game series to pull close to Milwaukee who now leads them by 3.5 games. Chicago is a big favorite in Game 1 tonight and can’t afford to squander it.
Cubs vs. Pirates odds, run line and total
Cubs vs. Pirates prediction and pick
The Cubs are playing in meaningful baseball games every single night and the pressure is on as they fight for both a Wild Card spot and the division title. It has to be a huge relief every time Justin Steele takes the mound because they are 16-7 in his starts. They have a great chance to get their 17th win with Steele on the mound tonight.
The Pirates have been bad against lefties lately and despite Andrew McCutchen’s recent hot bat, I don’t expect that to change. Since July 1, the Pirates are 29th in OPS against left-handed pitchers at .636 and have a wRC+ of 75. They have hit just eight home runs against lefties in that stretch which also ranks 29th. Steele is going to completely dominate this lineup tonight.
The Pirates bullpen is actually 11th in ERA since July 1, so that part of their roster has been relatively reliable, but they’ve been getting overworked with only two or three real starting pitchers on the roster.
The odds may move once Pittsburgh does announce their starter, but either way I like the Cubs on the run and I’ll just take it now while it’s at plus odds. There isn’t anyone, other than Paul Skenes, in the PIrates organization that they could call up and would instill any faith.
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