MLB Picks: With Arrieta on the Hill the Cubs are Your Best Bet vs. Pirates

Willie Bee

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 12:38 PM GMT

After splitting their doubleheader on Tuesday, the Cubs and Pirates continue their set in Pittsburgh tonight with Chicago favored & drawing early action on the MLB odds.

We got so see some nice pitching matchups in Tuesday's doubleheader between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, but Wednesday's matchup is even better and ESPN's cameras will be there for a prime-time broadcast of the showdown.

The old rivals officially get things started a little after 7 PM (ET) when AJ Burnett climbs the hill for the Pirates. He'll be opposed by the white-hot Jake Arrieta who is behind the Cubs being sent out as small road favorites around -125. That moneyline shot up about a dime overnight with 5Dimes listing Chicago -139 on their morning nickel line. We're finding 7's straight across the board for the total, SBR's live MLB odds showing most sports books evenly splitting the tally high and low.

 

Lester's CG Helps Cubs To Doubleheader Split
The Pirates rallied twice in Tuesday's matinee lid-lifter, once with a 3-run inning and once after a 3-run Cubs' frame, for the 5-4 win. Chicago fans will point to Miguel Montero's throwing error as a continuation of the goat or Steve Bartman curses, but astute bettors will know the Pirates have been pulling games off like this all season.

Chicago managed a split in the twinbill thanks to Jon Lester's complete game 5-hitter in the nightcap. The decision left the Cubs 7 behind St. Louis in the NL Central race, the Pirates 3 back of the Cardinals.

Though it's rarely considered one of the most fiercest, this is the most-played rivalry in all of baseball with Wednesday's clash the 2,454th it has been contested is the most-played in the National League dating back to 1887. Pittsburgh has the all-time lead and has won the last two season meetings, though the Cubs have an 8-6 advantage after Tuesday.

PNC Park may be generally thought of as pitcher friendly, but the 'over' has been the way to play the totals recently in this series. With the scoreboard tallies splitting on Tuesday, totals have run 7-3-1 O/U/P the last 11 on this diamond.

 

Arrieta & Burnett Squaring Off A 3rd Time
In case you've been living under a rock, Arrieta has quietly become one of the best pitchers in the big leagues and a huge reason why the Cubs are in the thick of the NL playoff race. The former TCU star has reeled off eight consecutive winning decisions, allowing no more than two earned runs in that span, while Chicago has triumphed in his last nine starts and gone 13-1 behind the righthander since the end of June.

Wednesday is Arrieta's fourth go against the Bucs this season, two of the previous three ending in Chicago dubyas. He has worked seven innings each time before, surrendering a grand total of two runs and 11 hits, and owns a 2.62 career ERA at PNC in four assignments.

Rust showed in the first inning of Burnett's last start, the Brewers reaching him for three runs in the opening frame of an eventual 6-4 extra-inning victory, but he settled in after that with four scoreless innings. Burnett only burned through 64 pitches in his first start after a 5-week DL stint, and should be able to go 80-90 or more tonight.  Both of Burnett's starts vs. the Cubs this year came against Arrieta, the team's splitting those games with Pittsburgh's veteran combining for 13 innings and only one run allowed. Starlin Castro has been a tough out for Burnett, the Chicago infielder hitting .471 (16-34).

 

Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Crew chief Jim Joyce should have the plate, the 29-year veteran bringing a flat 9-9-1 O/U/P mark on totals into the third tilt of the set. The last three times the Toledo native has called balls and strikes stayed 'under' the MLB odds, however, as he prepares to work the dish in Pittsburgh for the first time in more than three seasons. Joyce has been a friend to baseball bettors playing the home side, 12 of his 19 plate assignments going that way, 7-5 as the underdogs.

Clear skies with temps in the mid-to-upper 70s should greet the teams at first pitch, only a hint of a breeze coming in from center field. Arrieta is simply on too good of a run to play against him, so I'll go with Chicago for my free MLB pick.

My pick: Cubs -139 at 5Dimes