Cubs vs. Pirates: MLB Game Odds and Expert Analysis

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The Pittsburgh Pirates are in their usual spot in late August of simply playing out the string as they welcome the NL Central-contending Chicago Cubs for the start of a four-game weekend series on Thursday. The Cubs are favored on the MLB odds.

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates | 2023 MLB Expert Analysis

MLB Week 20: Monday August 21 – Sunday August 27, 2023

How to Bet Chicago at Pittsburgh MLB Odds & TV Info

When: Thursday, 7:05 PM ET
Where: PNC Park
Probable pitchers (away/home): Justin Steele/TBA or bullpen day
TV: MLB Extra Innings
Stream/gameday audio:
Opening MLB Lines: Cubs -150, Pirates +130 (total 8.5)

Why Bet on Chicago?

The Cubs took two of three in Detroit to start this week, blowing a 4-0 lead on Wednesday but prevailing 6-4 anyways. Yan Gomes went 2-for-4 and drove in the go-ahead run in the eighth. A disappointment in his first year with the team, Gomes has been solid for the Cubs this season, hitting .273/.314/.435 with nine homers and 45 RBI in 312 plate appearances. He still splits time with young Miguel Amaya.

Yan Gomes hit a tiebreaking, two-out single in the eighth inning. Adbert Alzolay protected a two-run lead in the ninth for his 19th save. Alzolay has 15 saves in the Cubs’ last 40 games. Keep that up for a full year and he would be close to Francisco Rodriguez’s single-season record of 62 saves. Mark Leiter Jr.’s 23 holds are the third-most in the N.L. and the sixth-most in the majors.

Jeimer Candelario is second in the N.L. with 36 doubles between the Nationals and Cubs this season, trailing only Freddie Freeman (45). His 57 extra-base hits (36 doubles, three triples, 18 home runs) are sixth-most in the N.L. Candelario is hitting .349 with a .423 OBP and a .545 SLG with the Cubs after he was acquired from the Nationals July 31 .

The Cubs have won 24 of their last 34 games and took two of three from the Tigers, improving to 9-1-1 in their last 11 series.

It’s lefty Justin Steele on the mound. Steele (14-3) earned the win last Saturday, allowing two runs on six hits over six innings against the Royals. He struck out seven. Steele was in some trouble after giving up back-to-back hits to open the second inning but managed to retire the next three batters. The right-hander surrendered only three more hits from that point on while striking out seven batters for the third start in a row. Steele has now won his last five decisions (spanning six starts) and eight of his last nine. He has not allowed more than three earned runs since May 26 and his 14 wins have him tied with Atlanta’s Spencer Strider for the major-league lead.

Steele will make his fifth career appearance (fourth start) vs. Pittsburgh. He is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA (8 ER/17.2 IP), including 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA (5 ER/12.2 IP) in two starts at PNC Park. Steele has held Pirates hitters to a career .224 average (15-for-67).

Why Bet on Pittsburgh?

The Pirates had a chance to sweep the visiting Cardinals on Wednesday but lost 6-4. The last-place Cardinals had lost six of seven and were outscored 17-4 in the first two games of the series. Pirates slugger Andrew McCutchen, who has 299 career homers, had three doubles for the first time in the majors but was stranded at second after each.

“I’d have thought I’d have done it before,” McCutchen said. “It’s always nice to get an extra-base hit. I’m sure a lot of people are disappointed today because I didn’t hit a homer. But I’m pleased with my game, personally. I would’ve liked to cap it off by hitting another one, but it didn’t work out that way.”

McCutchen has gone deep twice in his last five games and ranks fourth all-time in Pirates history with 215 home runs. His next blast will make him one of 12 active players with at least 300 career home runs.

Touted young shortstop Oneil Cruz has been out since April 9 with a fractured ankle and it’s not looking good for him to return in 2023. Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk said Wednesday that Cruz has shut down his running progression due to soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle. Cruz began a running program a couple weeks ago, but his ankle hasn’t responded as hoped and his rehab has “plateaued,” according to Tomczyk.

David Bednar recorded his 49th save as a member of the Pirates on Tuesday, which is tied for 12th all-time along with Rich Loiselle since saves became an official stat in 1969. Bednar’s next save will tie him with Jim Gott, who ranks 11th all-time in Pirates history with 50 saves. Bednar’s 27 saves are the most by a Pirates righthander since Mark Melancon had 30 in 2016.

Pittsburgh has not named its starter for this one so it likely will be a bullpen-by-committee day. The Bucs certainly will be motivated to play spoilers as the Cubs swept a three-game series at PNC Park in the last series between the two teams from June 19-21. The Pirates were also swept in a three-game series at Wrigley Field from June 13-15.MyBookie Betting Lines for the Games

Expert Prediction

Cubs 5, Pirates 3

NL Central Standings

Updated August 24th
Brewers 70 57 .551 W5 35-27 35-30
Cubs 66 60 .524 3.5 W1 35-30 31-30
Reds 67 61 .523 3.5 W3 31-34 36-27
Pirates 57 70 .449 13.0 L1 31-33 26-37
Cardinals 56 72 .438 14.5 W1 28-37 28-35

W: Wins | L: Losses | %: Winning Percentage | GB: Games Behind | STRK: Current Streak | HOME: Record at Home | AWAY: Record When Away

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