Cubs +150 vs. Pirates for MLB Picks

Jeff Grant

Monday, March 31, 2014 11:50 AM GMT

Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 11:50 AM GMT

The Pittsburgh Pirates are coming off their first winning season in 20 years, which provides value on the Chicago Cubs in the season opener for both teams Monday. How have we decided to place our MLB picks in the first of Monday's matchups?

Let’s take a closer look at the MLB betting odds for this National League Central matchup at PNC Park, with the first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

[gameodds]3/260608/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

The future is near
Chicago is coming off four straight sub-.500 seasons, and it combined for 197 losses in the past two years under former manager Dale Sveum.

The Cubs are in the process of turning over their roster under president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, while they’ll be led on the field by first-year skipper Rich Renteria, who has managed in the Minor Leagues and for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. 

Over the previous two seasons, the franchise is 58-104 on the road, with the UNDER going 86-68 in that situation.

 

Hungry for more 
Pittsburgh had the third-best record in the Senior Circuit in 2013—despite its scoring average of 3.91 runs per game being the lowest of any team that participate in postseason play in both leagues.

The Pirates are led by outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who will receiver his NL Most Valuable Player Award before Monday’s first pitch.   

MLB handicappers will find that the team is 62-56 in day games, with no clear edge in the betting total (57-57 Over/Under) since 2012.

 

Samardzija
Cubs starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija will look to move past a 5.14 ERA in 21 Cactus League innings this spring, while he also tallied a disappointing 8-13 record and 4.34 ERA in 33 efforts a season ago.

In 94 daytime appearances (33 starts), the right-hander is 10-21 with a 5.05 ERA—numbers that are much worse than his performances at night (19-14, 3.41 ERA). 

Samardzija has compiled a 4-3 record and 2.11 ERA in 18 career games versus the Pirates, including a 4-1 mark and 0.73 ERA in nine outings at this ballpark.

 

Liriano
Pirates starting pitcher Francisco Liriano will make his first Opening Day appearance for the franchise, but sports bettors will want to keep an eye on him over the course of the game, as he was pulled from his last Grapefruit League outing with tightness in his left groin.

The left-hander went 8-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 11 home starts a season ago—limiting opposing hitters to a .174 batting average.

In six lifetime starts versus the Cubs, Liriano has put together a 3-2 record and 2.72 ERA.

 

Prediction
I’m going to recommend that readers back the Cubs as one of their MLB picks, as the Pirates are 11-12 (-830) as home favorites of -150 to -175 the previous two seasons.

Pick:  Chicago Cubs +150

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