Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#3907 Chicago Cubs vs.
#3908 Pittsburgh Pirates
Thursday, June 23, 2022 at 12:35pm EDT
Written by Nathaniel Reeves

NL Central rivals will close out a four-game series on Thursday afternoon at PNC Park with the Chicago Cubs taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh leads the set 2-0 so far after picking up a 7-1 win on Tuesday to cash in as a -141 favorite, with the next game scheduled for later on Wednesday after the time of publishing. Chicago holds down fourth place in the division at 25-43, while Pittsburgh is one spot ahead at 28-39.

The Pirates now lead the 2022 season series 7-4 over the Cubs.

Cubs blown out again as 2-13 skid continues

As expected entering the year, the Cubs are really scuffling as they quickly plummet towards last place, and have been outscored 19-2 through two games of this set in Pittsburgh so far. Patrick Wisdom provided Chicago's only run of Tuesday's contest with a fourth-inning 461-foot solo shot, but the Pirates were already up 5-0 at that point.

Matt Swarmer was charged with the loss, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out five. Wisdom was on base three times, while Jason Heyward had a multi-hit game.

“I think he’s just trying to make good decisions,” manager David Ross said about Wisdom via MLB.com. “I think he’s a guy who has a lot of power, and with that comes some swing and miss, but the fact that he’s getting on base a little more, I think that’s just the growth of him as a player.”

The Cubs are down a huge amount on the money line for the season with the poor outright record while fairing slightly better on the run line at 33-35. Overs are an even 32-32-4 for the Cubs including 1-1 to start this series at Pittsburgh.

Chicago's offense has dipped into the bottom 10 of the league with 4.04 runs per game on a .705 team OPS. The pitching staff has been even more of a problem, ranking fourth-worst in baseball with a 4.95 collective ERA including a mark of 4.78 out of the bullpen.

Catcher Willson Contreras is having an outstanding season at the plate, posting a .907 OPS with 12 homers, 27 RBI and 40 runs scored. Ian Happ is also enjoying a strong campaign with an .854 OPS, seven homers, five stolen bases and 32 RBI.

Justin Steele is set to make his 14th start of the year, looking to follow up a nice win over the Atlanta Braves last Saturday when he allowed two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out three in five innings. The 26-year-old improved to 2-5 with a 4.27 ERA across 59 innings overall as he looks to secure a spot in the rotation moving forward.

Rookie outfielder Seiya Suzuki, who got off to a red-hot start this season, is sidelined by a sprained finger, while the Cubs are down another big bat in first baseman Frank Schwindel due to a strained back. Second baseman Nick Madrigal (strained groin), utilityman David Bote (shoulder surgery) and outfielder Michael Hermosillo (strained quad) are also on the IL. The rotation is missing Adbert Alzolay (strained lat), Wade Miley (strained shoulder), Drew Smyly (strained oblique) and Marcus Stroman (shoulder inflammation). Relievers Codi Heuer (Tommy John surgery), Ethan Roberts (shoulder inflammation), Manuel Rodriguez (strained elbow) and Brad Wieck (strained elbow) round out the lengthy IL for the Cubs.

Young players continue to impress for Pirates

With a few of their best prospects finally reaching the Majors, the Pirates have played better of late and rolled to their third straight win by handling the Cubs on Tuesday. Bryan Reynolds opened the scoring in the first with a sac fly before Michael Perez went deep the next inning, Daniel Vogelbach later added both an RBI double and run-scoring single, and Bligh Madris hit is first career homer in the sixth.

Roansy Contreras had one of the best outings of his young career, allowing one run on four hits and two walks while striking out three across five innings. Vogelbach stuffed the stat sheet, finishing 2-2 with a double, two walks, two RBI, and a run scored.

​​“The hype about Oneil is crazy, and he’s an unbelievable player. But it doesn’t go unseen what Bligh has done very quietly up here,” said Vogelbach via MLB.com, referencing top prospect Oneil Cruz getting called up to start the week. “You can say under the radar because [he came up] with Oneil. He’s had unbelievable at-bats. He’s played the heck out of defense in his two games out there."

The Pirates are now in positive territory on the money line for the season while going 30-37 on the run line. Overs are 26-34-7 for the Pirates, with two of their last three games going under the betting total.

Pittsburgh still ranks inside the bottom three of the Majors at 3.58 runs per game on a .652 OPS, also 28th in the big leagues. The pitching staff has only been slightly better, posting a 4.39 collective ERA including a mark of 4.08 from the bullpen.

Jack Suwinksi is becoming a factor in the NL Rookie of the Year race with a .785 OPS, 11 homers and 19 RBI across 49 games. Reynolds is also turning in another solid campaign with a .772 OPS, 11 homers, 22 RBI and 31 runs scored.

Veteran Jose Quintana is tabbed to make his 14th start of the season, hoping to continue a solid bounce-back campaign as he's 1-4 with a 3.66 ERA over 64 innings. The 33-year-old went 5.1 innings against the San Francisco Giants last Saturday, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out five.

Pittsburgh has all kinds of position player injuries, with catcher Roberto Perez (hamstring surgery), first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo (strained back), shortstop Kevin Newman (strained groin), utilityman Tucupita Marcano (COVID), utilityman Josh VanMeter (fractured finger), outfielder Greg Allen (strained hamstring), outfielder Ben Gamel (strained hamstring), outfielder Jake Marisnick (thumb surgery) and outfielder Carson Smith-Njigba (fractured wrist) all out. Starting pitcher Zach Thompson (forearm irritation) hit the IL this week, joining Dillon Peters (strained back). Relievers Blake Cederlind (Tommy John surgery), Nick Mears (elbow surgery) and Duane Underwood Jr. (COVID) are also unavailable.

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Full-Game Side Bet

Insiders Status:

Rating:

The Pirates are looking like a better team than the Cubs right now, and the recent influx of young talent will help an offense that was badly in need of a jolt. With Cruz and Madris producing well so far to go along with some solid young players that were already on the roster, Pittsburgh will continue to handle a bad Cubs pitching staff and give enough support for Quintana.

After struggling for a number of seasons, Quintana looks somewhat more like his old self in 2022, posting respectably above-average numbers like an 89 ERA- and 98 FIP-. A few solid innings from him will be enough to get the win, as the back end of Pittsburgh's bullpen anchored by star closer David Bednar is tough to score on.

Steele is solid but has only made it past the fifth inning in three of 13 starts, which means too much of a Cubs bullpen that has the second-worst collective ERA in baseball. Chicago is on a horrendous skid right now, while the recent additions to the roster have given Pittsburgh some momentum.

Prediction: Pirates +110

Full-Game Total Pick

Insiders Status:

Rating:

Steele is quietly having a nice season, and his 87 FIP- indicates the ERA could start to fall soon enough. Pittsburgh's offense only has an 85 wRC+ to rank third-worst in baseball so it is still has plenty of holes even with the recent callups, especially considering the sheer number of injuries right now.

Chicago is also below average at the plate with a 97 wRC+ while dealing with some key injuries of its own. This is the best starting pitching matchup we've seen in the series thus far, and these offenses are too beat up to get to this number.

Prediction: Under 8.5 (-110)
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Written By Nathaniel Reeves , "Nathaniel Reeves"

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily. 
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