Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Prediction, Preview, Picks & Odds - 5/18/2022

by Chuck Sommers

Time: 7:40 p.m. ET 
Venue: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL
Where to watch: YouTube

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Cubs -145, Pirates +125
BetMGM: Cubs -155, Pirates +130
Caesars: NL

Season record
Pirates: 15-21
Cubs: 15-20

We're fresh into this baseball season and of course it's AAA Sports jumping out to an 34-19-0 run in Major League Baseball over the course of the last 30 days. An incredible start to the season. We've seen some exciting games and some awesome moments, but what will happen as we keep rolling through the month of May? Catch AAA's plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.

Pirates - Cubs preview and analysis


Pirates analysis


This might have been one of the weirder games the Pittsburgh Pirates have played in this season, and this is the same team that got no-hit earlier this week and still won.

The Pirates lost 7-0 on Tuesday to the Chicago Cubs and have been outscored 16-1 in the first two games of this series. What I can say to further this is not only did the Pirates lose, but their starting pitcher threw 10 strikeouts  in just over five innings and they let the poor man out to dry while his offense failed to get anything going again.

JT Brubaker would have had the game of his life any other time, but not on this day. And as a result, the Pirates are on the verge of getting swept by a team that really had no business playing on the same field as the Cubs the night before.

It was a career-high double-digit strikeout night for Brubaker, who was the only bright spot for a Pittsburgh team definitely in need of one. The night before, Dillon Peters didn't even make it through the first inning, and the Pirates gave up a first-inning grand slam on their second time throughout the order. Fortunately, they didn't need that this time.

“As soon as I saw Shelty [manager Derek Shelton] coming out to pull him, you feel bad,” Michael Chavis said. “You see the dude throw so well, you want him to have good results. It was just kind of unlucky. He looked great. Just sucks.”

“I felt good,” Brubaker said. “Finally felt like I was getting back to where I was in Spring Training, earlier in the year after being sick. Strength, energy, everything was clicking on time. It felt like it was all back."

The poor lad may have felt good, but the rest of his team clearly was not meant for this type of game.

Cubs analysis


The Chicago Cubs will not go quietly, but it sure helps to keep playing teams like the Pirates in order to get that win total back on the right track.

Keegan Thompson didn't need to do much in order to have a solid day. Just five scoreless innings to with just four hits allowed and five strikeouts. The Cubs' young pitcher is off to a 3-0 start and his ERA is now down to 1.41.

Jonathan Villar homered, as did Christopher Morel in his first Major League at-bat,  to propel the Cubs to that dominant victory. Morel was so hyped that he initially forgot to touch first base as he was rounding the bases.

"In this moment, I don't think too much," Morel said. "I say, 'Oh my God.'"

Morel, fresh from Double-A Tennessee prior to the game, was averaging .306 and hit seven homers in the Cubs' Double-A affiiliate. He's their 21st ranked prospect and he's got pop like that.

"I've known this guy for a really long time, and he makes me proud," Contreras said. "It was amazing. He told me [he would homer], and I felt like he was going to get something done. But I was thinking of a base hit. Just a base hit. Just blooper. Just something positive.

Who knows if the kid is going back into the lineup, but man the Cubs have another rookie to cheer for. What a time to be alive.

Prediction


Domination across the board, and I don't see how the Cubs don't make it happen in what would ultimately win the series. I don't normally like the chances of Drew Smyly coming in and winning, but I can't help but think that'll happen if the Cubs get out to another early lead. Cubs win 6-2

Betting trends


Pirates are 36-88 as a road underdog the past three seasons.

Pirates are 45-81 as an underdog between +125 and +175 the past three seasons.

Cubs are 25-22 as a home favorite between -100 and -150 the past three seasons.

Cubs are 5-11 at home this season.

Projected lineup


Pirates:
Ben Gamel (L) LF
Ke'Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
Bryan Reynolds (S) CF
Daniel Vogelbach (L) DH
Yoshi Tsutsugo (L) 1B
Josh VanMeter (L) 2B
Jack Suwinski (L) RF
Rodolfo Castro (S) SS
Michael Perez (L) C
SP - TBD

Cubs:
Rafael Ortega (L) CF
Willson Contreras (R) C
Ian Happ (S) LF
Seiya Suzuki (R) RF
Alfonso Rivas (L) 1B
Patrick Wisdom (R) 3B
Frank Schwindel (R) DH
Jonathan Villar (S) 2B
Ildemaro Vargas (S) SS
SP - Drew Smyly

Statistical leaders


Pirates:
Batting average: Ke'Bryan Hayes -- .301
Hits: Ke'Bryan Hayes -- 34
Home runs: Daniel Vogelbach -- 6
RBI: Ben Gamel -- 15
Wins: Dillon Peters -- 3
Saves: David Bednar -- 7
ERA: Jose Quintana -- 2.19

Cubs:
Batting average: Wilson Contreras -- .277
Hits: Wilson Contreras -- 28
Home runs: Patrick Wisdom -- 6
RBI: Patrick Wisdom -- 17
Wins: Mychal Givens -- 3
Saves: David Robertson -- 5
ERA: Kyle Hendricks -- 4.03

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert MLB picks today. And if you enjoyed this Pittsburgh Pirates - Chicago Cubs preview, be sure to drop by every day for our daily MLB projections and predictions.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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