The two bottom teams in the National League Central Division are set to meet up on Thursday night to kick off a four-game series at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. It has been a long few months for the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, but this should be a pretty competitive series.
Pittsburgh enters this series with a record of just 48-85 and things have gotten pretty bad over the past few weeks. Shelby Miller said of the Pirates struggles, “It’s an important month. We’re not going to make the playoffs or anything like that, but the personal goals are just finishing the season strong.”
The Cubs swept the Minnesota Twins in a two-game series this week and they come to Wrigley Field with some momentum. Chicago is just 59-75 after spending part of the season in first place.
Pirates Struggling to Score
The Pittsburgh Pirates have hit just 102 total home runs and that has led to just 475 total runs. Pittsburgh has scored just 12 total runs in its last five games, going 1-4 record in that time.
Finding a way to get outs has also been a challenge for the Pirates, who have a 5.05 team ERA. The Pirates aren’t facing one of the best offensive teams in baseball, but getting 27 outs is going to be an issue.
Mitch Keller is slated to start and he is 4-10 with a 6.75 ERA. Keller has faced the Cubs five times in his career, splitting a pair of decisions this season, but he won’t have to deal with the former stars in Chicago this time around.
Cubs: Young Starting Staff
The Cubs were a team that was featured on a lot of MLB picks early in the season, but that has all changed since the trade deadline in July. Not only did the Cubs trade away most of the offensive talent on the roster, but they also have called up a number of young pitchers to make starts.
Chicago will be sending Keegan Thompson to the mound and he has struggled since joining the rotation. Thompson is 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA, but much of that good work was done when he was in the bullpen.
Frank Schwindel has now homered in three straight games for the Cubs and Patrick Wisdom is always a threat to provide some big offense. The Cubs don’t have a very deep lineup anymore, but they should be able to do some damage at Wrigley Field.
Cubs Start Series With Win
Thompson has not been pitching well since joining the starting rotation but this will be an excellent chance for him to turn things around. The MLB odds for this game reflect his early struggles, but he is not facing a team that does a ton of damage on offense.
Pittsburgh’s Keller has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball. The Pirates have to score a ton of runs if they want to win with Keller on the mound,and they just don’t have that capability.
Bet on the Chicago Cubs moneyline as they get this four-game series started off on the right foot.
Pick: Chicago Cubs -133
Cubs Take Series
As bad as the Cubs have been since the end of June, they have still been much better than the Pirates. Both teams have a ton of young players in the everyday lineup, but Chicago has more talent.
Pittsburgh will also be facing right-hander Kyle Hendricks later in the series. Those two games are a big advantage to the Chicago Cubs, and the home team will be able to find another win along the way.
If you are betting online with the series prices, the Cubs are the right play. Pittsburgh is going to struggle to win just one game, and this could be a series where the Cubs continue to build some momentum.