For long time Chicago Cubs fans betting baseball, Pittsburgh always was a team that depleted the bankroll. For decades, no matter how good or bad the Pirates were, they had the Cubs number.
That is starting to change. Having beaten Pittsburgh is last year’s wild card game, Chicago has started this season with a 6-1 record and other than the Bucs lone 2-1 victory on May 15th, it has not been close, as Joe Maddon crew has outscored them 44-13 this campaign.
Tonight’s contest will be part of FOX’s regional baseball coverage at 8:15 EDT and for those putting together MLB picks, oddsmakers are calling from another party around Wrigleyville.
Jonathon Niese (6-3, 4.60 ERA, 1.45 ERA) has been maddeningly consistent throughout his career. When he gets in a good groove, he is a very competent back of the rotation hurler and kept team’s in games with low run performances. However, seemingly for every group of quality efforts, there is another bunch that follows, which makes you wonder how this guy has a job. After permitting 15 runs in 15 innings over three starts, Niese went six starts never allowing more than three runs. If you get where this headed, Niese was tagged for eight runs in last start.
Though nothing was ever said, Jon Lester (8-3, 1.89, 0.95) looked like a pitcher last season trying to live up to huge contract. He was generally ineffective, had poor body language and was pressing. Fast forward to 2016 and the lefthander is delivering as promised. He’s back to attacking hitters, locating fastball on both sides of plate, his cutter has more downward movement and buries curves on right-handed batters’ hands. Back to being completely confident.
By the numbers, this is Pittsburgh’s best offensive club since they became a playoff contender in 2013, ending long drought of 20 losing seasons. The mission this year was to improve offense and the Pirates are at 4.6 runs per game. After yesterday’s 6-0 shutout, the bats will have to do better to win tonight.
Chicago has been either first or second in the National League in scoring all year. Maddon has a variety of ways to make out a lineup card and can mix and match to provide optimum matchups. With the kind of pitching the Cubs are receiving, they are 41-3 when they tally at least four runs an outing and they are crushing the opposition with an awesome 28-4 record in games decided by four or more runs.
Betting Odds, History and Bullpen Numbers
The MLB odds at BetonLine began with Chicago as a -230 favorite, with the total to be determined by the day’s weather report which always matters at Wrigley. Even with Friday’s drubbing, the Bucs are still 12-10 on the north side of Chicago and the total is 11-10-1 UNDER since 2014. The Cubs bullpen has an effective ERA of 3.48, but part of Pittsburgh’s problems has been the non-starters, who are at 4.06 ERA, the worst figure in the last few years.
These days, hard to find many reasons to bet against the Cubs even with inflated money lines. However, another issue is the oddsmakers have been juicing up Chicago’s run lines because they have a 40-25 record in those contests. With the ML at -230, they should be at around -115 at -1.5, but have been running at least 20 cents higher even with bloated money lines. Regardless, with how Anthony Rizzo and teammates are playing and how the pitching matchup would appear to play out, these truly lovable Cubs on the RL is the play.
Free MLB Plays – Chicago Covers Run Line
Doug Upstone wrote this for www.sportsbookreview.com