Pirates have moved dramatically upward in the standings since a shaky initial start to their season. Can they keep the momentum going in this interleague series and cash on the MLB odds?
The Pittsburgh Pirates Can Win Because...
They are shutting down the White Sox' hitters and now have a pitcher who is best equipped to keep Chicago under wraps. Pittsburgh shut out the White Sox on both Monday and Tuesday, and entered the ninth inning of Wednesday night's game in Chicago with a 3-2 lead. The White Sox are just getting nothing done against the Pirates' pitchers, who have been red hot of late. Over the weekend, the Pirates played the Philadelphia Phillies three times. It's true that the Phillies are a bad team this year, but the Pirates' pitching staff still had to work 33 innings in that series, with one game going 13 innings and another lasting 11. Well, in those 33 innings, the Pirates shut out Philadelphia twice and allowed a total of three runs overall. That's incredibly good at the major-league level, even if the opposing team is really bad. The Pirates have carried that level of pitching into this series and, more specifically, into Chicago for the back end of this two-city, four-game set.
Now, Pittsburgh unleashes its best starter on the White Sox.
Gerrit Cole is a frontrunner for the National League Cy Young Award this year. The pitcher who has built himself into a star and is chasing superstardom has put down a tremendous set of stats this year. Cole has a 1.71 ERA, which speaks to great pitching on an all-time scale. Cole has given up more than two runs only once in his last 10 starts -- three runs back on May 6, over a month ago. Cole has pitched seven full innings in six of his last 10 starts, speaking to his durability and consistency. He's such a workhorse for the Pirates, and the team knows that as long as it can just score three or four runs, Pittsburgh is generally in very good shape.
You also should note that Chicago starter Jeff Samardzija has a 4.84 ERA. He has struggled of late, giving up nine, six, and three runs in his last three starts. Samardzija has not become what the White Sox thought he would be when he came from Oakland to the Windy City.
The Chicago White Sox Can Win Because...
They are hopeful that Samardzija will be able to pitch better, and such an expectation is not completely unreasonable. Before Samardzija's last three starts, which were well below the standard he used to set, he looked like an ace or a strong number two pitcher. In the three games before his last three starts, Samardzija gave up five earned runs in 23 innings. He went eight innings twice and seven innings once, and no one could rough him up for a big inning. Samardzija can be extremely tough, and since he used to pitch for the Chicago Cubs not very long ago, he is very familiar with many of the Pirates' hitters. He will have a good plan on how to get them out, but since it's been a year after Samardzija has faced the Pirates in a large bulk amount of games during the season, the Pirates' hitters might need a few at-bats to readjust to what they see from Samardzija. You could, if you wanted to, make an argument that Samardzija is going to be in top form on Thursday night – especially at home. He’s 3-1 at home this season with a 3.57 ERA and opponents bat .250 against him. That’s compared to being a 1-3 on the road with a 5.71 ERA and .308 opponent batting average on the road.
Samardzija pitches well at home and with Cole and the Pirates going really strong, we should see a low-scoring Pirates win in this spot. If you don’t feel like laying the juice, go with the under for your MLB picks.
Pick: Pirates -134 & Under 7.5 at The Greek