The Pittsburgh Pirates (34-36, 18-16- home) open up a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs (33-38, 13-21 away) at home on Monday night. Chicago swept a three-game set earlier this season in Chicago, outscoring Pittsburgh 28-11 in the series.
The first pitch of the series opener is at 7:05 p.m. EST inside PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Chicago is the betting favorite (-125 moneyline) and the over/under total is nine runs.
What to Know – Chicago Cubs
Chicago snapped a five-game winning streak on Sunday with a series-finale loss to the Baltimore Orioles. Even with the defeat, the Cubs own a 7-3 mark over their last ten contests. Chicago is in fourth place in the NL Central, four games back of the leading Milwaukee Brewers.
The Cubs turn to left-hander Drew Smyly (6-4, 3.59 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) on the mound to open up the series. The veteran has been a serviceable starter for the Cubs so far this year, but is suffering his worst month on the mound with a 1-2 record and 5.09 earned run average. On the year, Smyly has logged 77.2 innings, allowed 31 earned runs on 72 hits and 21 walks while striking out 65 batters.
On offense, the Cubs are 16th in the majors hitting .247 as a team while averaging 4.5 runs per game. Chicago’s pitching staff ranks 13th in the MLB with a 4.12 team ERA.
Chicago’s offense lacks power but has been able to generate the runs needed at the right time. Nico Hoerner and Ian Happ lead the team with 33 RBIs a piece and Hoerner is the team-leader in runs scored (39) and batting average (.284). Patrick Wisdom, the Cubs home run leader, landed on the injured list over the weekend with a sprained right wrist.
What to Know – Pittsburgh Pirates
The Pirates have exceeded expectations through the first half of the season but Pittsburgh carries a six-game losing streak into Monday’s showdown that started last week in Chicago. Pittsburgh remains 1.5-games ahead of the Cubs in the NL Central, trailing the Brewers by 2.5 games.
Right-hander Osvaldo Bido (0-0, 2.25 ERA, 1.75 WHIP) takes the ball for the hosts in Monday’s tilt. The 27-year-old rookie made his MLB debut last week against this Cubs team. Bibo lasted four innings, surrendering one earned run, four hits, three walks, and striking out six batters.
Bryan Reynolds is the engine for the Pirates’ offense, leading the team in RBIs (40), runs scored (38), and batting average (.277 avg). Second-year pro Jack Suwinski is the only player on the team with double-digit home runs (15) and is second on the roster with 35 RBIs.
Pittsburgh’s offensive lineup sits 19th in the league batting .245 and scoring 4.3 runs per contest. The Pirates’ pitch staff is 18th amongst league teams featuring a 4.34 team ERA.
The Pick is In
Recent momentum is in favor of Chicago, and the Cubs have the advantage offensively and face a rookie arm they’ve already seen. Pittsburgh smacked Smyly around in his last start, but we expect the veteran to handle his business on the hill Monday night.
The Pick: Chicago Cubs ML