By: Hector Duran (hector_duran22)
Moneyline: CHC (-140); PIT (+120)
Run Line: CHC -1.5 (+110); PIT +1.5 (-130)
Total: 8.5; Over (-110); Under (-110)
First Pitch: 12:35pm CST; PNC Park; PIttsburgh
After both teams suffered losses yesterday, they will meet again after a 3 game series that saw the Cubs take 2 out of 3 from Pittsburgh last week. The Pirates will have their home opener today so the Pittsburgh faithful should be fired up. I don’t care if you don’t expect much out of your team for the season but having that first home game is always special. In my humble opinion, PNC Park is one of the best looking ballparks in the MLB. We will see a rematch of last Saturday’s matchup as it will be Jake Arrieta vs the southpaw Tyler Williams. It will be another early game for both teams and the start of another 3 game series. Let’s get into it!
Chicago Cubs (3-3)
It’s Jake day at PNC Park and Jake Arrieta will look to continue his 2021 season on the right foot. He notched a quality start last Saturday against these very same Pirates and they have always been a team that he has pitched well against. In his first start, Arrieta went 6 innings while giving up only 1 run and 1 walk and getting a win.
The bats should be back to normal lineup after seeing Eric Sogard and Tony Wolters earn a start yesterday after the Cubs had a day game after a night game. Willson Contreras and Arrieta have great chemistry together and together have notched a .231 opponents batting average. We should see Willy back in there after making only a pinch hit appearance in yesterday’s rally that just fell short.
On offense, the bats have struggled out of the gate but both the starters and the bullpen have been able to keep them in ballgames. Yesterday, the Cubs had 12 strikeouts. Granted, they faced one of the better pitchers in the National League in Brandon Woodruff, he was able to carve up the Cubs’ lineup. Despite being 3-3 on the young season, the Cubs are dead last in the majors in team batting average hitting a measly .124. To put into perspective how bad that is, the next worst team at 29th is the Oakland Athletics and they are at .168. I am no stats guy but the law of averages tells me that the Cubs will not sustain this low average for the long haul and getting to go up against the lowly pirates is a great way to increase it.
Pittsburgh Pirates (1-5)
The Pirates are coming into this series after getting swept by the Reds and getting outscored by a combined score of 30-8. Cincinnati’s offense is oozing with confidence and shows no signs of slowing down so it’s good that the Buccos will be seeing someone else. It will be Tyler Williams to take the ball and try to get them back on track. In his last start, against the Cubs, Williams went 5 innings, giving up 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks and collected 7 punchouts but took the loss. The southpaw will look to bounce back as he faces a Cubs lineup who has struggled to muster up some hits. Williams’ motion had some jerky moves to it which I could see why it may have been difficult for the Cub hitters to time it right but after seeing him just 6 days ago, he may not have such a good fortune. The Pirates come into this new series with the worst team ERA in the league at 7.35. Similar to the Cubs’ batting average, the Pirates will not sustain such a low ERA and going up against a struggling Cubs team may just be what they need.
Derek Shelton’s bats have also struggled thus far. They are in the bottom third in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. Losing Ke’Bryan Hayes certainly does not help but the skipper has seem to be doing a good job at rotating his players and having everyone stay fresh and ready when called upon.
Analysis & Best Bet
Given the success of Jake Arrieta not only in his last start against the Pirates but also against them as a whole, I am leaning toward a pitching prop here. Aside from the grand slam by Erik Gonzalez, the bats have been struggling as of late and it does not help they will have to face a trio of Cubs starters who all pitched well in their first start. For my best bet, I will be taking the Cubs in the F5 -1 at +135. Even though the Cubs offense hasn’t been terrific either, it will be tough for the Pirates to get some offense going. Outside of the first inning of last Saturday’s game, Arrieta settled in nicely.
I am 4-2 in MLB previews thus far for the 2021 campaign. I will get the exact profit after this game and update that for the rest of the season so we can all follow along.