Though the Cubs have done a number on the Pirates in recent action between the two clubs, the Bucs will bounce back and take this one tonight when Pittsburgh hosts Chicago.
Carlos Zambrano will make his 11th start of the season amidst rumors of him having problems with his throwing shoulder. He’s vehemently denied the rumors all week long, but his last outing leaves cause for concern after getting yanked after just four innings of work against these same Pirates who tagged him for seven hits and five runs (four earned).
[articleBanner]who2beton[/articleBanner]He enters this start with a solid 6-1 record and 2.45 ERA, but the Cubs have managed to win just six of his 10 overall starts. He had won his previous two starts against Pittsburgh before last weeks no decision, and is 9-5 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 19 career starts against the Pirates.
Opposing him will be left-hander Zach Duke who will be facing the Cubs for the second consecutive start and will take the same approach into this outing as he did the last. Duke mixed up his pitches and limited the number of first-pitch fastballs he threw in order to keep the free-swinging Cubs off balance. He didn't pick up a decision in the start even though he settled down after allowing three early runs to allow just one more tally in his final five innings of work.
Overall, Duke’s 2-2 with a 4.23 ERA, but he’s 2-1 at home and his ERA drops almost a full point to 3.42. Duke’s 4-3 against Chicago with a 2.84 ERA and 1.33 WHIP in 11 career starts.
Chicago is 11-1 in the last 12 overall meetings with their division rivals, and they’re a solid 10-5 against left-handed starters this season. However, Chicago has only managed to beat the Pirates in two of Zambrano’s last eight starts against them. The Cubs have dominated at home this year, but their fortune on the road has been a different story.
The return on Pittsburgh at home is worthy of a moneyline wager in this spot when taking Chicago’s road woes into consideration.
Free Pick: Pirates +155