MLB September 1: Chicago Cubs versus Pittsburgh Pirates
In this NL Central Division match up, the 20-14 Cubs take on the 10-21 Pirates. Jon Lester is scheduled to start the game on the mound for the Cubs and Chad Kuhl will get the ball for the Pirates. The Cubs are favorites at –150 to +138 with an “over/under” of 9.
The Cubs are led in the power department by Kyle Schwarber and Ian Happ, each with nine home runs for the season. Anthony Rizzo has added eight, but Javier Baez has struggled. He is hitting only .202 with five home runs and 47 strikeouts. As a team, the Cubs are hitting only .225 and although pounding out 51 home runs, average just 4.7 runs per game.
The Pirates have really had their share of offensive woes. Colin Moran leads the team in home with six. Josh Bell leads the Pirates in RBI with 14, but is hitting only .218. Adam Frazier has gone deep four times with an average of .207. Gregory Polonco has hit five home runs, but his average is an anemic .120. As a unit, the Pirates are hitting .219 with 29 home runs and four runs per game.
Jon Lester has won two of three decisions this season, but has allowed seven home runs in 31 2/3 innings, contributing to a mediocre ERA of 4.55. Craig Kimbrel has been a disaster out of the bullpen. Although he’s struck out 15 in eight innings, he’s also walked 12 and has an ERA of 10.13. Rayn Tapera, Rowan Wick, and Jeremy Jeffress have been solid. The Cubs have a 4.47 ERA and have committed 18 errors for a .983 fielding percentage.
Chad Kuhl has quietly put together a very good season. His record is a mediocre 1-1, but has an excellent ERA of 2.52 in 25 innings of work. Out of the bullpen, Geoff Hartlieb has been the best of the bunch, posting a 2.63 ERA. Sam Howard has provided solid work in 11 games, while Chris Stratton (4.50 ERA, 16 innings) and Richard Rodriguez (4.61 ERA, 2 saves) have been mediocre at best. As a team, the Pirates have an ERA of 5.07 and haven’t gotten help from a defense that has committed 26 errors.
The Cubs have the bullpen edge, offensively, and defensively. The starting pitching matchup favors the Pirates based on the season stats, but that is negated by the subpar Pittsburgh offense. There is little to indicate the Pirates have much of a chance to win this one. Go with the “under” and the Cubs to come out on top.