The struggling Pittsburgh Pirates open a four-game series with the Chicago Cubs, who won a three-game series with them at Wrigley Field to start the season. Is there any value on the Pirates at home? Here’s a complete preview, including updated odds and Free MLB picks.
Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
Thursday, April 08, 2021 – 01:35 PM EDT at PNC Park
Jake Arrieta vs. Tyler Anderson
Jake Arrieta (1-0, 1.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) returned to the Cubs after three years with the Phillies and he pitched well in his first start of the season against this same Pirates team, giving up just one earned run on six hits with five strikeouts and one walk in six innings of a 5-1 win last Saturday. Arrieta is 13-6 with a 2.87 ERA and an 0.99 WHIP in 24 career starts against the Pirates, with 141 strikeouts over 147 1/3 innings. The current Pirates lineup is just 21-for-99 against Arrieta (.181) but Colin Moran is 4-for-11 (.364) with a double against him.
Tyler Anderson (0-1, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP) joined the Pirates this season and he struggled in his first start against the Cubs, allowing three earned runs on five hits (one home run) with seven strikeouts and two walks in five innings of a 5-1 loss last Saturday. Anderson is 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in four career starts against the Cubs, with 30 strikeouts over 25 innings. The current Cubs lineup is 19-for-65 (.280) against Anderson. Anthony Rizzo (5-for-12) and Kris Bryant (4-for-11) both hit him well and Javier Baez and Jason Heyward were a combined 4-for-8 with two RBIs against Anderson last Saturday.
The Cubs opened as -130 favorites, but over at FiveThirtyEight, they already have them at -122 based on our calculations (they suggest will win this game 55 percent of the time). The player to watch for the Cubs is Kris Bryant (161 Weighted Runs Created Plus). A Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) of 100 is the league average. Bryant's 161 would be 61 percent above the league average and he is 4-for-11 with two home runs and three RBIs against Anderson. The Pirates need Colin Moran (205 Weighted Runs Created Plus) to produce on Thursday. As mentioned above, Moran is hitting .364 (4-for-11) against Arrieta and he can spark their offense.
The projected Cubs lineup has five batters with a strikeout rate above 21 percent and just two batters with a Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) above .340 while Pittsburgh's projected lineup also has five batters with a strikeout rate above 21 percent, two batters with a Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) above .340 and just two batters with Isolated Power (ISO) above .185. Arrieta could regress soon but he's dominated the Pirates in his career and both teams are struggling at the plate to start the season. The Under is 6-1 in Chicago's last seven games as a road favorite and 5-0 in Pittsburgh's last five home games and these two teams combined for just six runs on Saturday, with Arrieta and Anderson as the starters.
*The pick reflects the line at the moment the writer made the play, the odds at the beginning of this article show the live line movement. Since the lines might vary, don’t forget to refer back to our live odds.