The Cubs are the hottest team going in the National League, but it's the Pirates who are favored on the MLB odds to take Wednesday's series finale in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Pirates hitters had no answer for Chicago starter Jake Arrieta on Tuesday, the righthander combining with two Cubs relievers on a 4-hit shutout. The 5-0 whitewashing marked Chicago's 6th-straight win to inch into the lead for the NL's second wild card as the rain-shortened set in Pittsburgh draws to a close.
Wednesday's first pitch at PNC Park comes at 7:05 PM (ET), the Pirates sending southpaw Jeff Locke to the hill in hopes of earning a split. Morning moneylines are running slightly in favor of Pittsburgh in the low -120s against veteran Dan Haren in his Chicago debut. The Hump Day baseball betting card also features a 7½ run total that leans to the low side.
Cubs Have Had Their Way Vs. Locke This Season
Chicago grabbed Haren from the Marlins last week in exchange for a couple of minor leaguers, one of them prized prospect Ivan Pineyro. Fourteen of his 21 assignments for Miami went in the quality start column, Haren posting a 3.42 ERA over the course of 129 innings, yet the Fish only picked up the dubya in 10 of the outings, and won just two of the last 10.
Haren hasn't had a lot of experience against the Pirates, most of what he's seen of them ending rather badly. Wednesday will be his fourth appearance at PNC Park, his clubs 1-2 in the previous three while he pitched to a 4.67 ERA.
Locke trots to the bump for the 21st time this year, Pittsburgh going 11-9 to put a modest 0.9 units into the pockets of baseball bettors. The Pirates have won his last two starts, though Locke needed help from the offense after allowing the Nationals and Reds a combined seven runs in 10 innings. Pittsburgh scored 10 runs for him when he faced the Cubs at Wrigley in mid-May, but the lefty never made it through the fourth inning and has surrendered 14 runs to the Cubs in three assignments that covered just 12.1 innings. The Pirates are 8-4 in his 12 PNC Park appearances, Locke posting a fine 2.90 ERA in those games.
Umpire Notes, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Chicago native Tony Randazzo is scheduled to call balls and strikes in the series finale, and brings an 8-9-1 O/U/P record into the contest. The veteran of 16 MLB seasons, Randazzo has been trending to the 'under' lately with three of his last four plate assignments failing to reach the MLB odds. The Pirates have won his last three appearances at PNC Park, 'under' bettors cashing twice.
Another clear evening is expected in Iron City, the weatherman calling for a first-pitch temp of 78º with a light NNW breeze (out to right-center). Once again, I'm calling for a Chicago triumph with a free MLB pick on the Cubbies.
My MLB Pick: Cubs +110 at 5Dimes