The Chicago Cubs are in Pittsburgh to conclude a three-game NL Central series against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon. The Cubs will give the starting nod to Trevor Williams, and the Pirates will counter with JT Brubaker. The Cubs lead the season series 4-2 after the Pirates clobbered the Cubs 8-2 on Saturday.
Williams Shines in Cubs Debut, Battles Former Team
Trevor Williams will be pumped for this matchup against his former team. Williams was stellar in his Cubs debut last week, scattering two runs in six innings against the Brewers, propelling a 5-3 victory. The veteran right-hander is looking to rebound from a disastrous season that resulted in an abysmal 6.18 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP with the Pirates. He posted a 3.11 ERA back in 2018 and the Cubs are hoping Williams can rediscover his confidence.
Chicago's pitching is thriving while the bats have been an issue. Several of the Cubs' big hitters had a rough 2020 season and their woes have continued early this season. The Cubs are hitting a terrible .157 as a team entering Saturday night.
Javier Baez is starting to find his swing, posting a solid five RBI’s on the season although he owns a .200 average. The 28-year old slugger had a terrible 2020 season which has carried into 2021. Baez went 2 for 12 with one RBI in the season-opening series against the Pirates and went 2 for 3 with two RBI's Thursday's victory.
The Cubs rank 24th with an average of 3.29 runs per game. Chicago owns a 2.95 team ERA, good for fifth in the big leagues.
Brubaker Solid in Season-Opening Start
JT Brubaker will make his second start of the young season on Sunday. Brubaker was sharp in his opening start, limiting the Reds to only one run on three hits across four innings, leading to a no-decision in a game the Pirates lost. The second-year right-hander displayed potential in his 2020 rookie year but finished with a 4.94 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP accompanied by a 1-3 record in 11 starts. Brubaker silenced the Cubs last season, conceding only four runs (three earned) in 14.1 innings spread across three outings.
The Pirates will more than likely be in the basement in the NL Central all season. The biggest issue is the lack of offense which has been evident in their five meetings against the Cubs this season. It also doesn't help talented young third baseman Ke'Bryan Hayes remains out of the lineup.
We’ve missed this. pic.twitter.com/AZjRkWVMpr— Pirates (@Pirates) April 9, 2021
Colin Moran was the Pirates’ best hitter last season and the same has applied early this year. The 28-year old third baseman features a .280 average with three RBI’s and a sharp .979 through the first week. Moran is 3 for 14 with two RBI’s against the Cubs’ pitching this season.
The Pirates are only averaging 2.70 runs per game, pegging them down last in the MLB. They enter with a Major League worst 6.83 team ERA
The Chicago Cubs are:
- 4-1 in their last 5 games as a favorite.
- 5-2 in their last 7 Sunday games.
- 5-2 in their last 7 games against a starter with a WHIP above 1.30.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are:
- 0-5 in Brubaker's last 5 starts.
- 0-4 in their last 4 Sunday games.
- 20-49 in their last 69 games overall.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
It’s been a disastrous start to the season for the Pirates who are going to take their hits all season. The Pirates have now lost six of their last seven games on the season entering Saturday and the pitching has been terrible, allowing five or more runs in three out of their last four clashes.
Furthermore, Cubs’ starter Trevor Williams is pitching against his former Pirates team and will have extra motivation for this game as a result. Williams was stellar in his Cubs debut, limiting the Brewers to only two runs in six innings. The Pirates are playing without their most exciting young talents in Ke’Bryan Hayes. Five of the Pirates’ defeats have been by two or more runs which is why I like the Cubs on the run line.
Full-Game Total Pick
The Pirates’ have one of the worst lineups in the big leagues and they have only scored a combined 11 runs in their four games against the Cubs this season entering Saturday. The under is also a convincing 8-1 in the last nine meetings between these rivals.
In addition, Pirates’ starter J.T. Brubaker should at least contain the Cubs’ bats. The right-hander held the potent Reds lineup to only one run in four innings in his first outing. The Cubs’ offense has yet to find their swing as well and the under is 5-1 in their last 6 games against a right-handed starter.
Full-Game Prop Bet
The under on the Pirates team total is an attractive prop bet. Pittsburgh has scored three or fewer runs in five out of their last seven clashes overall. The Cubs’ pitching has been their greatest strength so far this season. Chicago’s bullpen features a stifling 2.20 ERA.
First Five Innings Prop Prediction
The over on the three-inning total is worth a look. The first and second inning has been the Pirates' best innings as they have scored five runs in the first frame and eight runs in the second in their eight games played. Also, the Cubs' highest scoring stretch has been innings 1-3 with 10 runs.