Pick Cubs & Pirates to go 'Under' 7

Swinging Johnson

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 2:53 PM UTC

Wednesday, Apr. 2, 2014 2:53 PM UTC

The NL Central rivalry resumes between the Cubs and the Pirates but is Pittsburgh worthy of the heavy lumber in MLB odds that bettors will have to lay in this showdown tonight?

Swinger’s 2014 MLB Record (2-1, +2.85 units) *Each wager is graded from 1 to 5 units*

We cashed our second consecutive two-unit winner with a play on Over 8 ½ (-105) in the Giants/Diamondbacks game yesterday, giving us a small head start to the MLB season.  I conjectured that many of the squares would be sending it in on Matt Rain and the Giants but felt neither side had any edge in our MLB picks, therefore I turned my lonely eyes to the total and the final score proved me right.  The D-backs rallied from an early deficit and stole a 5-4 victory which made the Arizona fans leave the park happy and allowed us to cash a ticket.  Let’s take a look at what today’s matchup brings.


Chicago Cubs (0-1, -1.00 units)
New year- same results.  The Cubbies took the field on Monday hoping to erase the dismal memory that was their 2013 campaign but alas, this is the Chicago Cubs we’re talking about here and it’s no small surprise they wound up on the losing end of a 1-0 pitcher’s duel in their season opener in Pittsburgh.  The silver lining is that starter Jeff Samardzija looked tough, allowing only five hits and no runs through seven full while the bullpen dug in and held the game scoreless until Carlos Villanueva gave up the big blast to Neil Walker in the tenth inning.

Chicago taps the wayward arm of Edwin Jackson to get the job done today.  Jackson led the major leagues in losses with a record of 8-18 and a woeful 4.98 ERA.  However, he has performed respectably when pitching against the Pirates, registering a 3.48 ERA in four starts with a record of 2-2.  However, in Jackson’s last spring training appearance he was razor sharp against the Diamondbacks when he retired 10 batters in a row and pitched four shutout innings.

Let our MLB Picks of the Day help you locate the best value on offer.

Pittsburgh Pirates (1-0, +1.00 units)
In a day where pitching ruled the day, second baseman Neil Walker provided the only offensive fireworks needed when he smashed a solo shot in the tenth inning of Monday’s opening day victory over Chicago.  But collectively the Pirates managed only six hits while the pitching kept the Cubs at bay until Walker turned out the lights in the extra frame.

Tonight Charlie Morton continues his career renaissance after languishing on the DL with elbow reconstruction surgery for most of 2012 and over two months in 2013.  He ended last season with a 4-1 regular season record and an impressive 2.67 ERA.  Morton posted a micro 0.82 ERA in four Grapefruit League starts but is only 2-4 with a whopping 4.91 ERA against the Cubs in his career. 


Free MLB Pick:
It’s always easy to blindly fade the Cubs no matter whom they are opposing but betting against a team just because they’re bad is not solid handicapping.  The oddsmakers have a way of making you pay a premium for that strategy and that is why you see Pittsburgh installed as -160 favorites in MLB odds in most offshore sportsbooks.  But is that carrot palatable enough for even sharp cappers to bet the Cubs as a value play?  Or maybe the feeling is that the line should be steeper on the Pirates?  I think the line is just right which is why the side is a pass for me.

Look, it is early in the season and most of the pitchers you will be seeing have not had a whiff of anything but meaningless spring training action.  I am not about to lay north of -150 on a team that couldn’t hit a mediocre bullpen on Monday and needed extra innings to win the game.  In addition, Edwin Jackson looked awfully sharp in his last spring training outing while Morton has pitched like he is in midseason form during spring training.  And finally, we have two offenses that struggled mightily in the opener.  Where do you think I’m going here? 

Free Play: Play Under 7 (-120) for 3 units in your MLB picks at WilliamHill.com.
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