Cubs at Pirates Picks and MLB Betting Odds
by Dave Schwab - 5/21/2013
This Tuesday night at PNC Park marks the start of a three-game Central Division clash in the National League between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET), and it will be available on MLB Extra Innings.
The Cubs are already 10 games in back of St. Louis in the division, but a 5-5 record in its last 10 games has to be seen as a step in the right direction. After going 3-3 in a six-game home stand, they will go back on the road where they are 8-11 this year. The total has gone “over” in seven of their last 10 games.
Pittsburgh has been able to keep the Cardinals within its sights with an 8-2 record in its last 10 games that has it just 2.5 games out of the lead. It took three of four from Milwaukee last week followed by a 2-1 record in this past weekend’s series against Houston. It remains at home for this series where it is now 15-9 overall. The total has stayed “under” in six of its last eight games.
Cubs at Pirates Betting Storylines
It has been another painfully slow start for Chicago behind a pitching staff that has posted a respectable team ERA of 3.67 but has all too many times suffered from a lack of consistent run support. The Cubs are ranked 11th in the NL in scoring with an average of 4.02 runs per game. Anthony Rizzo has led the way with 30 RBI and 10 home runs, and Starlin Castro has been productive as well with 20 RBI and a team-high 50 hits.
One positive sign for a possible turnaround is the expected return of Matt Garza to the mound as the Cubs’ starter for Tuesday night. The right-hander has missed the second half of last season with shoulder issues and started this season on the DL with a strain in his back. He has made four successful starts in the minors where he posted a 1.17 ERA in just over 15 innings of work. Lifetime against the Pirates he is 1-1 with an ERA of 3.79.
Pittsburgh remained in contention for the NL Central last season before fading after the all-star break, but all the early indications point to this team sticking around the top of the standings all summer long this time around. The Pirates come into this series with a 3.33 staff ERA, which is second only to St. Louis in the NL. Hitting remains an issue with a team batting average of .244 (they are averaging four runs a game), but solid individual performances by Garrett Jones (24 RBI and five home runs), Andrew McCutchen (23 RBI and six home runs) and Pedro Alvarez (21 RBI and eight home runs) have kept them competitive. The good news for this contest is the return of McCutchen to the starting lineup after missing Sunday’s game with a knee injury.
The Pirates will also get a boost for Tuesday night given that it is Wandy Rodriguez’s turn in the starting rotation. He will be going for win No. 5 after posting a 4-2 record in his first eight starts. The left-hander has an ERA of 3.25 and a 1.06 WHIP and has given up just five earned runs in his last three starts. Rodriguez is 8-7 against Chicago with 3.56 ERA.
Cubs at Pirates MLB Betting Odds and Trends
Chicago has been opened by BetOnline as a +120 road underdog on the money line with the Pirates listed as -130 home favorites. The over/under for this game has been set at 7.5.
The Cubs are 4-1 in their last five games following a loss but just 7-19 in their last 26 games against teams from the NL Central. The total has stayed under in 22 of their last 31 games against a left-handed starter.
The Pirates are 5-0 in their last five games following a day off and 5-0 in their last five games against a right-handed pitcher. The total has stayed under is 22 of their last 30 home games.
Head-to-head in this matchup, the road team has won seven of the last 10 meetings, and the total has stayed under in the last four games, including all three played this season.
Cubs at Pirates Picks and Betting Predictions
Chicago already won two of three against the Pirates on the road this season, but it is tough to wager on a starter that has not pitched in the majors in more than 10 months. Stick with the proven arm in Rodriguez for this matchup as Pittsburgh evens the season series at two games apiece.
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