Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#915 Pittsburgh Pirates 9 vs.
#916 Chicago Cubs -190
Sunday, August 2, 2020 at 2:20pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala

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A pair of NL Central opponents close out their weekend series up in the Windy City. The Pittsburgh Pirates are on the road as they make the trip to face the Chicago Cubs Sunday afternoon in the finale of a three-game set. In the opening game of the series, it was the Cubs rolling to a 6-3 victory on Friday night to draw first blood in the series. The Cubs edged the Pirates on Saturday 4-3. The pitching matchup for the middle game of the set Saturday night saw Mitch Keller take the mound for the Pirates. He was scheduled to face off with the Cubs’ Tyler Chatwood. First pitch in the contest from Wrigley Field was scheduled to begin at 7:15 pm ET.

Pittsburgh Pirates Trying to Generate Some Offense

Pittsburgh was stymied the majority of the way Friday night as they suffered their second straight defeat. The Pirates entered Saturday tied for the basement in the NL Central with the Reds, three games behind the Cubs in the division race. Pittsburgh had seven hits in the game but five of those came in the final two innings, by which point they were already down 4-0. Colin Moran (run, RBI) was the only player with two hits in the game for the Pirates. Moran (his fourth) and Josh Bell (his first) each went deep in the ninth inning but the game was out of reach. Trevor Williams (0-2) took the loss on the mound as he threw 4.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts.

Steven Brault is expected to get the ball for his second start of the year for the Pirates in this contest. He has no record with a 0.00 ERA, a 1.50 WHIP, two walks and one strikeout on the season. Brault didn’t factor in the decision in his last start, which came Monday at home against the Brewers. He threw two innings, allowing no runs on one hit with two walks and one strikeout in a game that Pittsburgh eventually dropped 6-5 in 11 innings. Brault makes his 15th career appearance and sixth start against the Cubs in this contest. He is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA, a 2.009 WHIP, 22 walks and 29 strikeouts over 38.1 innings of work against them. Brault is 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA, a 2.048 WHIP, 11 walks and 16 strikeouts over 21 innings in nine career appearances, three starts, at Wrigley Field.

Chicago Cubs Look to Maintain Strong Start

Chicago bounced back from a loss to close out their series with the Reds, thanks to a rainout Thursday, by besting the Pirates at home on Friday night. The Cubs enter Saturday leading the NL Central race by 1.5 games over the Brewers. Jason Heyward (two RBI), Jason Kipnis (run, RBI) and Ian Happ (run) each had two hits in the game for the Cubs. Kipnis hit his first homer as a Cub in the victory. Yu Darvish (1-1) bounced back from a rough first outing by tossing six sparkling innings in this one. He allowed no runs on two hits with a walk and seven strikeouts before giving way to the bullpen. On the other end of the spectrum, Craig Kimbrel struggled in the ninth, allowing a pair of solo homers, before closing things out.

Jon Lester is on the mound for his second start of the year for the Cubs in this contest. He comes in with a 1-0 mark, a 0.00 ERA, one walk and one strikeout plus a hit batter on the season. Lester earned the win in his season debut, which came Monday on the road against the Reds. He threw five scoreless innings, allowing no hits with a walk and a strikeout in a game the Cubs hung on to win by an 8-7 count. Lester makes his 24th career start against the Pirates in this contest. He is 12-6 with a 3.18 ERA, a 1.389 WHIP, 44 walks and 111 strikeouts over 130.1 innings of work against them. Lester is 40-22 with a 3.49 ERA, a 1.247 WHIP, 148 walks and 497 strikeouts over 516.1 innings in 87 career starts at Wrigley Field.

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Brault has had all kinds of issues against the Cubs in his career and has been dismal at Wrigley Field. He may go three innings in this one before giving way to someone else. Lester looked solid in his season debut and has pitched well against Pittsburgh in his career. The Cubs are generating solid offensive production in the early going on the year despite the fact that some of their key bats are struggling. Still, Pittsburgh has had all kinds of problems at the plate and that proves to be their undoing again in this one. Lester gets his second win of the year as the Cubs take the game and the series.

Prediction: Chicago Cubs

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Chicago has been off to a solid start offensively as they have put up at least six runs in each of their last five games entering Saturday. The Cubs are averaging 6.29 runs per game (second in the majors) while posting a .254 team batting average, which is good for sixth in the league. Chicago's pitching does need to be better as they've given up more than five runs a game, but that helps push games over the total. Pittsburgh has averaged 3.71 runs per game but their bats have been anemic. The Pirates are hitting only .177 as a team on the season, which is dead last in the league. That's not a lot of offense to lean on at this point of the season. Still, with Brault's struggles against the Cubs and Chicago's ability to put runs on the board in bunches, this one edges over the number.

Prediction: Over

Written By Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Now he is writing for our team here at Winners @ Whiners. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chrisโ€™ content daily.