Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#959 Pittsburgh Pirates vs.
#960 Chicago Cubs
Tuesday, May 17, 2022 at 7:40pm EDT
Written by Mason Folz

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This Tuesday the (15-20) Pittsburgh Pirates and the (14-20) Chicago Cubs will play the second game of their three-game series. The first pitch will be thrown out at 7:40 PM EST inside Wrigley Field. This will be the third series between these two teams this season, as the Pirates won three out of four games the last time they faced off.

The Pittsburgh Pirates come into this series after splitting games with the struggling Cincinnati Reds. They looked great on the defensive side of the field in the final two games of this series but struggled at the plate in their first two losses to the Reds.

The Chicago Cubs come into this series after taking two of three games from the Arizona Diamondbacks. They looked great on the defensive side of the field in this series, as they were able to hold the Diamondbacks to a very low run total in the two games that they won.

The Pirates are Searching for Runs

The Pittsburgh Pirates have not started this season how they would have liked, but they still have plenty of time to turn this season around. They are currently in third place in the NL Central. On the offensive side of the field, they are only scoring 3.40 runs per game and hitting .225 as a team. This is the 27th least amount of runs scored per game and the 22nd lowest overall team batting average. They are struggling to put the ball in play, but they are having an even tougher time bringing their base runners around to score. Pittsburgh has also realized that they have a few men that can change the game with one swing of the bat. They are averaging .82 home runs per game, which is the 23rd highest average. The Pirates have also been one of the least aggressive bases running teams in the league. They have only stolen 11 bases, which is the 24th least amount in the MLB. I expect them to start trying to push their runners into scoring position earlier in the inning so that they have a better chance of driving in the run. I would also watch for Daniel Vogelbach at the plate in this one. He has already hit six home runs this season, which leads his team. He will be aggressive at the plate for the Pirates in this one and expect him to give his team a better chance of scoring more runs.

On the defensive side of the field, the Pirates have also struggled. They are allowing 4.74 runs per game and have a combined team WHIP rating of 1.36. This is the 27th most runs allowed per game and the 26th highest overall team WHIP rating. They are allowing their opponents to reach base too easily and it is making it very difficult for their pitchers to get out of these jams. Pittsburgh will also need their starting pitcher to be better, as they have only recorded four quality starts this season. They have had to rely on their bullpen more than they would like, as the Pirates have been going to their bullpen way too early in most of these games. Their defense would greatly benefit from their starter going deep into this game. The Pirates also need to clean up their mistakes in the field, as they have already committed 27 fielding errors this season. That is the 29th most in the league, as the Pirates can't continue to make mistakes in the field and expect to win these games. According to MLB.com, JT Brubaker will be getting the start on the mound for the Pirates. He has started this season (0-3) with a 5.34 ERA. He also has a 1.38 WHIP rating, as he has struggled to keep his opponents off the bases to begin this new season. He will need to wake up and attack the strike zone in this game if he wants to avoid dropping another start.

The Chicago Cubs have Cooled Off

The Chicago Cubs jumped out to a very hot start on the offensive side of the field to begin this new regular season, but they have recently cooled off. They will need their bats to wake up if they want to start contending in these games. The Cubs are in fourth place in the NL Central. On the offensive side of the field, they are currently scoring 4.09 runs per game and hitting .236 as a team. This is the 16th most runs scored per game and the 13th highest overall team batting average. They have shown that they can reach base consistently, but they have struggled to drive in runs when they have men in scoring position. Chicago has also realized that they don't have as much power throughout their lineup as they thought. They are only averaging .76 bombs per game, which is the 25th lowest average in the league. The Cubs would look much better on the offensive side of the field if they could start producing more runs from the home run ball. I also expect the Cubs to stay fairly conservative on the base paths. They have only stolen 10 bases this season, which is the 26th least amount of bases taken in the MLB. I would watch for Willson Contreras at the plate in this game. He has been the most consistent hitter for the Cubs this season, as he is hitting .283. He has the highest batting average on the team and I expect him to stay aggressive at the plate in this one.

On the defensive side of the field, the Cubs have also had their problems. They are allowing 3.94 runs per game and have a combined team WHIP rating of 1.29. This is the 21st most runs allowed per game and the 22nd highest overall team WHIP rating. They are allowing too many base runners each inning, which has made it very difficult on their defense. The Cubs have also only recorded five quality starts this season, which is the 28th least in the league. They are having to rely on their bullpen more than they would like, as their starters have been getting pulled from these games very early. The only other thing that the Cubs need to worry about on the defensive side of the field, is their fielding errors. They have already committed 19 this season, which is the 16th most in the league. They need to do a better job of keeping the ball in front of themselves and making the correct play. They can't continue to blame their starting pitching if their fielding continues to be this poor. The Cubs will send Keegan Thompson (2-0) to the mound in this one.

Best Bets for this Game

Full-Game Side Bet

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I will be riding with the home team in this matchup. The Chicago Cubs looked very strong on the defensive side of the field in their previous series against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This trend will continue in this one and the Cubs will be able to hold the Pirates to a very low run total. Pittsburgh is struggling at the plate right now and I don't see them producing many hits against this Cubs bullpen. The Pirates are also scoring the 27th least amount of runs per game and have the 22nd lowest overall team batting average. They won't generate enough base runners and the Pirates will struggle on the offensive side of the field for the majority of the night. The Cubs, on the other hand, has a great matchup against JT Brubaker. He has started this season (0-3) with a 5.34 ERA. Chicago has the 13th highest team batting average and I see them creating offense off Brubaker early in this game. The Cubs will have success on the offensive side of the field and rally on defense.

Pick the Chicago Cubs and lay the run line spread (-1.5).

Prediction: Chicago Cubs -1.5

Full-Game Total Pick

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Both of these offenses have struggled at different points in the season. The Chicago Cubs will score enough runs to win this game, but it won't be enough to push this total over (7) runs. The Pirates will have trouble on the offensive side of the field for the majority of the night and they won't be able to score enough runs to help the Cubs push this total over. Pittsburgh is currently scoring the 27th least amount of runs per game and has the 22nd lowest overall team batting average. The Cubs will keep the Pirates off the base paths for the majority of the game and this is why the score will remain under. The Cubs will eventually cash in on the offensive side of the field, but I don't see them scoring a crazy amount of runs in this game either. They are currently scoring the 16th most runs per game, as they don't have the offensive juice to blow this game open. The Cubs will eventually score, but the Pirates are going to struggle at the plate all game.

Pick the under and expect more defense than offense.

Prediction: Under 7
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Written By Mason Folz , "Mason Folz"

Mason graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder and he has been watching SportsCenter since before he could walk. He has been crunching numbers since he could learn to count and nothing makes Mason happier in this world than talking sports, unless he is on the golf course! We are very happy to have added Mason to our team at StatSalt and you will be glad as well. Let's win some money!