This NL Central clash features two teams trending in opposite directions, the suddenly-hot Chicago Cubs and the ice-cold Pittsburgh Pirates. Let’s take a look at the odds for this intriguing weekday matchup, where my prediction is for a Cubs win and u8 runs to hit at -105 odds.
Cubs Vs. Pirates Prediction
After delighting fans across the country with their surprisingly strong start to the season, the Pittsburgh Pirates are resembling, well, the Pittsburgh Pirates we’ve come to expect over the past few years. After a confusing series loss to the tanking Oakland A’s, they took 2 of 3 games from the Mets but have since lost 7 in a row, 4 of which have been at the hands of none other than these Cubs.
The Cubs, however, have shaken off a tough start, which isn’t necessarily a shock- I’ve alluded to some metrics in my previous previews for the Northsiders that suggested that they’d turn it around. After a sweep against the Angels proved to be the team’s rock bottom, they took 2 of 3 games from each of the Giants and Orioles, with that sweep of the Pirates sandwiched in between.
Marcus Stroman, who will have the ball on Tuesday, is enjoying an excellent second season in Chicago thus far; he’s fully entrenched in the NL Cy Young race, and with an NL-best ERA (2.45) and WHIP (1.036), he’s well on the way to what could be his best season in the big leagues.
Meanwhile, after a strong 2022 campaign split between the Cardinals and Pirates, Johan Oveido has had a bit of a tougher go of it in 2023. He’s limited home runs in a big way with just 0.6 allowed per 9 innings, but he definitely lets men get on base, not a recipe for success by any stretch. He’s allowed multiple runs in 4 of his past 5 starts, including 4 earned in just over 4 innings against the Cubs themselves in his last outing.
This is a pretty straightforward call on the moneyline; it’s not a lock per se, but the only logical choice here is the Cubs, who are in better overall form, have the starting pitching advantage, and have owned this head to head matchup in recent weeks. The run total is a bit tougher to pin down, but with a Cy Young candidate going up against a floundering lineup, and a competent arm on the other end, I’m backing the under.
Cubs Vs. Pirates Prediction: Cubs ML (-125), u8 runs (-105)
Cubs Vs. Pirates Odds
The in-form Cubs are -125 favorites on the road, compared to +105 for the host Pirates. For a run-line of 8, the over is -115 while the under is -105.
Cubs Vs. Pirates Key Matchups
Marcus Stroman Vs. Pirates Outfielders
When it comes to selecting a starting outfield, the Pirates suddenly have the best kind of problem; too many options. After sticking with the team through the offseason, Bryan Reynolds has been a very good bat once again in year 5 with Pittsburgh.
Sometimes the answer to a positional logjam is putting one of the players at DH- that won’t work here, as Andrew McCutchen is back with the team, putting up resurgent offensive numbers, but DHing pretty much full time. Jack Suwinski, who sat on Monday against a lefty starter, leads all full-time Pirates in OPS in a breakout sophomore campaign, and Connor Joe is fourth on the team in the same statistic, behind- you guessed it- Suwinski, Reynolds, and McCutchen, in that order.
The logjam has been created by Henry Davis, the 2021 draft’s first overall pick. He made his MLB debut on Monday, and doubled in first at-bat in the Show. A Louisville alum, has was promoted early in his third minor league season, in which he was putting up an OPS of .974 between AA-AAA.
Davis is mostly a catcher, where I have him penciled in for this matchup, but debuted in OF, so we’ll see how the Pirates handle things. These outfield bats are very solid, but the rest of the lineup leaves much to be desired, a major reason I have the Cubs hitting the -125 Moneyline in my Cubs vs. Pirates prediction.
Johan Oviedo Vs. Cubs Lefties
The righty Oviedo has pitched to a fairly noticeable platoon split in 2023, with lefties OPSing almost 60 points higher against him than their right-handed counterparts. The Cubs lineup isn’t particularly left-handed, but let’s take a look at a couple of key lefty bats, as well as one righty who crushes just about everyone right now
First, let’s take a look at the two true lefties, neither of which has a huge sample size this season for separate reasons. Journeyman Mike Tauchman, is racking up an OPS over 1.000 over the past week, and has preferred to face righties across the season with an OPS of .800 in that category. Bellinger has actually struggled against right-handers this year, creating a pronounced reverse-split, but across his career he’s generally hit well against them.
Ian Happ, a switch hitter, continues to be a consistently solid bat for the Cubs, but against right-handed pitching, as a lefty, he’s closer to star level with an OBP pushing .400 and an OPS over .800. Christopher Morel, in year 2 in the bigs, has absolutely exploded with an OPS over 1.000 and 13 homers in just 32 games played. He’s a righty, but has actually put up a major reverse split, as he’s done the lion’s share of his damage against fellow right-handers, so he will be a tough test for Oviedo on Tuesday.
Cubs Vs. Pirates Starting Lineups
Cubs Starting Lineup
CF M. Tauchman L
2B N. Hoerner R
RF S. Suzuki R
LF I. Happ S
SS D. Swanson R
1B C. Bellinger L
RF C. Morel R
C Y. Gomes R
3B N. Madrigal R
Pirates Starting Lineup
DH A. McCutchen R
LF B. Reynolds S
CF J. Suwinski L
1B C. Santana S
RF C. Joe R
3B K. Hayes R
C H. Davis R
2B R. Castro S
SS T. Marcano L