The Cubs that have picked up two straight wins in this series, thus making the playoff race in the NL Central all the more interesting. Let's break down the MLB odds for today's series finale.
As of right now, the Pirates are sturdy -125 ML favorites on the MLB odds board, which leaves the Cubs as underdogs in the +105 to +115 range.
Perhaps you think a total play is the way to go. If that's the case, the O/U is trading at a high number of 8.5 runs, which is a little higher than we thought it'd be. Yes, Charlie Morton and Kyle Hendricks have endured some struggles here and there this season, but for the most part they've been pretty solid. Either way, it looks like oddsmakers think offense will rule the day this afternoon.
Pittsburgh Pirates (Morton)
The past couple of days have not gone well for the Pirates, as they've lost twice by a combined total of two runs. They were both heartbreaking defeats, defeats that could end up having a huge impact on who makes the postseason and who doesn't.
That means Pittsburgh really need a quality outing out of Morton if they want to end the series in positive fashion. The right-hander is 9-7 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.27 WHIP so far this season but comes in having allowed just three earned runs over his last two starts spanning 12 innings. Morton has been far better at home throughout 2015, going 6-2 with a 3.00 ERA as opposed to a 3-5 record and 5.17 ERA out on the road, so he should be feeling much more comfortable this afternoon.
This will be Morton's first encounter with the Cubs of the season, so we're interested to see how he holds up in what's another huge game for both teams.
Chicago Cubs (Hendricks)
Refusing to go down lightly, the Cubs continue to play solid baseball and now find themselves at 84-61 overall on the year. They've showed some great intestinal fortitude to win each of these last two games and now will hope to close out the series with another victory, this time with Kyle Hendricks on the bump.
Another righty, Hendricks has eerily similar numbers to Morton. He's 7-6 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP and has allowed a combined four earned runs over his past two assignments. Hendricks hasn't had the best of second halves, having recorded a 4.95 ERA over 60 innings since the All-Star break.
A couple other things not in Hendricks' favor: for one, he's been struggling away from Chicago, posting a 4.52 ERA (3.56 at home), and he's also endured some hard times in his showdowns with Pittsburgh so far in 2015. Over 16 innings he's surrendered 18 hits and 10 earned runs, good for a 5.63 ERA against these Pirates.
All in all, we believe this to be a fair price on the Pirates at home.
Morton has settled down nicely in his two most recent starts and, as long as he can avoid some early damage, he should be able to go at least six innings and put Pittsburgh in a good position to win.
We know motivation will be there for the Pirates after disappointing over the last couple of days, and they certainly don't want to lose anymore ground on the first-place Cardinals or see that gap close behind them and these Cubs either.
With Morton faring much better at home throughout the season and Hendricks having a harder time on the road, we think the value lies with Pittsburgh to end the series on a high note. We don't mind taking on a little chalk with our MLB pick today in the process.
MLB Pick: Pittsburgh Pirates -115 at Bet365