The Pittsburgh Pirates will take on their division leader Chicago Cubs in a two game series from PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA beginning Tuesday 7/31/18. The Cubs currently lead the season series 5-4 but are coming off a series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. On the other hand, the Pirates beat the New York Mets 2-1 in their most recent series.
Cubs’ Recent Struggles
Although they have been struggling as of late, the Chicago Cubs still hold a 1.5 games lead over the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Central team standings. The Cubs have lost four of their last seven games and lost their first two games against the Cardinals before salvaging a 5-2 victory on Sunday night.
Kyle Hendricks, who hasn’t really had a good year, played one of his best games of the season in front of the ESPN cameras on Sunday. Kendricks gave up two earned runs on four hits with no walk and eight strikeouts across seven innings pitched.
Ben Zobrist and Anthony Rizzo drilled home runs for the Cubs. Zobrist had four hits, two runs and one RBI while Javier Baez had one hit and two RBIs. For the season, the Cubs have averaged 4.29 runs per game while allowing 3.68 runs per game on the road.
Jon Lester will start on top of the mound for Chicago on Tuesday. The left handed hurler has started 21 games this season and has a record of 12-3 with an ERA of 3.06 and a WHIP of 1.24. Lester has been excellent pitching on the road with his 7-1 record with an ERA of 3.16 in 10 road starts.
In his most recent start, Lester gave up four hits and no walks with seven strikeouts while giving up just one run on a solo home run. That was a nice piece of work but he did not get the decision as the Cubs won 2-1 over Arizona on 7/25/18.
Chicago Cubs vs Pittsburgh Pirates 7/31/18
Odds: Cubs -122, Pirates +112
Odds from BetOnline on July 30, 2018
Red Hot Pirates
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been red hot as of late, winning 13 of their last 16 games to pull within four games of earning a wild card slot in the National League. Pittsburgh is just 7.0 games behind first place in the National League Central and have a chance to cover ground in this series.
The Pirates offense has been on fire, averaging 6.21 runs per game in their last 14 games before Sunday when they lost to the Mets 0-1. Gregory Polanco had three of Pittsburgh’s six hits on Sunday.
Polanco has been on a tear as of late too, with at least one hit in 12 of his last 14 games played. Over that period, he’s posted a batting average of .339 with 5 home runs and 11 RBIs. The Pirates average 4.42 runs per game and allow 4.16 runs at home this season.
Jameson Taillon will start for the Pirates on Tuesday. The 26 year old right hander has a record of 7-8 with an ERA of 3.73 and a WHIP of 1.22 in a total of 21 starts this season. For his career, Taillon has started 36 games at PNC Park and has a record of 9-11 with an ERA of 4.0. Against the Cubs Taillon has started five games and is 2-3 with an ERA of 5.06.
In his last start on Wednesday against Cleveland, Taillon took the loss while allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in seven innings of work during their 0-4 loss to Cleveland. Taillon has given up three earned runs or fewer in his last 11 starts, posting an ERA of 3.09 during the period.
Who Wins This?
The Cubs are 3-9 in their last 12 games against a right handed starter and 1-4 in their last five games after scoring at least five runs in their previous outing. They are also 4-1 in their last 5 Tuesday games.
Meanwhile, the Pirates are 10-1 in their last 11 games against teams with a winning record and 8-1 in their last nine games after scoring two runs or less in their previous game. Interestingly, the Pirates are just 1-8 in their last 9 Tuesday games but are 12-2 in their last 14 games against National League Central rivals.
Despite their recent struggles, the Cubs are still a tough team to beat. On the other hand, Pittsburgh is on a hot streak. Jon Lester has an ERA of 5.86 in his last six starts and a 6.53 ERA in his most recent four starts against Pittsburgh at PNC Park. As for Jameson Taillon, his ERA in his last three starts has been 1.96 while his ERA at home is 3.88.
The Pirates have been hot, especially against National League Central rivals. The Cubs have lost four of seven. Based on current form, we’re picking the Pirates to beat the Cubs on 7/31/18.