Time: 1:35 p.m. ET
Venue: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Where to watch: Marquee Sports Network, AT&T Sportsnet-Pittsburgh
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
FanDuel: Cubs -116, Pirates -102
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Cubs - Pirates preview and analysis
That six-game losing streak looked like it lasted forever for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they were finally able to get things done with a dominant victory over the Chicago Cubs on Saturday. When we discuss how bad this losing streak was for Pittsburgh, let’s put it this way.
The Pirates scored a grand total of 14 runs during that span while giving 42. The over cashed four out of those six times. Not that the totals were that large – we’re talking mostly anywhere between 6.5 and 8 runs – but that’s just a sign for how bad the Pirates have been.
There haven’t been many bright spots for the Pirates as of late, but one person you can look to is All-Star Bryan Reynolds. Usually when Reynolds is getting going, that’s a good sign for the Pirates. Unfortunately, things have been so bad as of late when it pertains to getting runs that he’s been a one-man show.
Reynolds in his last 12 games, while the Pirates have gone 4-8, is batting .375 with four home runs and eight RBI. It’s the fact he’s also gotten on base, as well, with Reynolds’ 18 hits, six of them have been of the extra-base-hit variety.
That doesn’t override the fact that the Cubs have still won five of the last seven meetings this season and that the Cubs. Not that this will matter in the grand scheme of things. Chicago has surprisingly been a decent hitting team this year; its .242 total average is near the middle of the table. The Pirates, with a .220 average are 29th in the league. If you needed any more semblance of why the Pirates have been bad even with Reynolds trying to show some signs of life, that would be it.
The problem between the two teams is pitching, two of the worst pitching staffs in the entire league. The Cubs’ 4.18 ERA isn’t anywhere close to the 4.74 ERA of the Pirates, but Pittsburgh hasn’t had good pitching since the Gerrit Cole days. And even if they had Cole or AJ Burnett, right now they’d be that meme of reaching their hand out of the water hoping for one last gasp of someone to bring them to the surface, only to slowly drown into the abyss.
"There's just areas right now where we might be a little short," manager David Ross said. "You go out and try to fill those in with proven big leaguers, and then you try to have something that the Minor Leagues is facilitating and feeding you for depth. And it looks like pitching is going to be a strong point of that, hopefully."
You can only hope if that’s the case for the Cubs, in that they can rely on that organizational depth to find some ways to get things back on track for the future.
"In a perfect world all of your talent would be homegrown," Cubs director of pitching Craig Breslow said last month. "But I think what we see is we're getting a clearer picture of the guys that we have in our system who are going to contribute to Major League wins. And then alongside that, you have a chance to kind of complement and fill in spaces."
The Cubs let one slip Saturday, but I can’t see that happening again. Give the Cubs another shot and they should win this series with ease. Cubs win 8-4
Cubs are 35-42 on the road this season.
Cubs are 32-37 against division opponents this season.
Pirates are 36-64 against right-handed starters this season.
Zach McKinstry (L) 2B
Ian Happ (S) LF
Franmil Reyes (R) DH
Yan Gomes (R) C
David Bote (R) 3B
Alfonso Rivas (L) 1B
Nelson Velazquez (R) RF
Michael Hermosillo (R) CF
Christopher Morel (R) SS
Oneil Cruz (L) SS
Bryan Reynolds (S) DH
Rodolfo Castro (S) 3B
Ben Gamel (L) LF
Cal Mitchell (L) RF
Kevin Newman (R) 2B
Jack Suwinski (L) CF
Zack Collins (L) 1B
Jason Delay (R) C
Batting average: Nico Hoerner -- .291
Home runs: Patrick Wisdom -- 23
RBI: Ian Happ -- 69
Wins: Keegan Thompson -- 10
Batting average: Bryan Reynolds -- .266
Home runs: Bryan Reynolds -- 24
RBI: Bryan Reynolds -- 57
Wins: Mitch Keller -- 5
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