MLB Predictions For Today: Cubs Heavy Favorites On Road Versus Pirates

The Chicago Cubs finally snapped a losing streak last night behind Jon Lester against the Pirates. Currently, amidst a race in both the National League Central division and the Wild Card, the Cubs cannot afford any more prolonged skids. Tonight, the Cubs and Pirates meet in the MLB Little League Classic at Historic Bowman Field. Here is a sports betting breakdown of tonight’s NL Central contest.

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As -146 favorites last night, the Cubs were able to hold off the Pirates — 2-0 — behind a solid performance from Jon Lester. The win — coupled with a Cardinals loss — puts the Cubs only a half-game back of St. Louis in the race for the National League Central. Tonight, the Cubs will send Jose Quintana to the hill as a -156 favorite. The Pirates answer with rookie Mitch Keller. Bookmakers portend a high-scoring affair in the MLB Little League Classic — with a 10-run implied total.

MLB Predictions for Today — Cubs (-156) vs. Pirates (+136), Over/Under 10 Runs

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Temperature Meter – Pirates Freeze in August

August has not been kind to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Josh Bell hit a wall after the All-Star Break and the Pirates seemed to collectively join him at impact. In August, the Pirates are 4-10. The 4-10 month includes an eight-game losing streak which saw the Pirates get swept by the Cardinals and Brewers.

The Pirates have not closed as a favorite to win a baseball game since July 25th. Now 14 games back in the division, the Pirates are clearly in talent-evaluation mode. Mitch Keller is back up to make his second start in August.

Stat of the Night

Jose Quintana is not known for an ability to strike out hitters at a high clip. In his last start in Philadelphia, Quintana’s stuff was working as he struck out a career-best 14 batters. Quintana attained the strikeouts in a mere six innings. Despite the dominant performance, Quintana gave up one home run and collected a no-decision for his efforts.

As a member of the White Sox, Jose Quintana struck out 13 Minnesota Twins in a start in 2014. This season, Quintana boasts an 8.23 K/9. Do not count on this high volume of strikeouts from Quintana. Both performances appear to be outliers.

The Bats

Using RotoGrinders PlateIQ tool, one can determine how a projected lineup fares against pitcher-handedness for this year or previous years. Let’s take a quick look at how both offenses are doing this season against the opposing starter’s handedness.

The Cubs’ projected lineup is rife with power and a strong command of the strike zone. Versus right-handed pitching, the projected starters combine for a .218 ISO and 9.6 BB%. Only Nick Castellanos (6.2%) and Javier Baez (4.0%) seem disinterested in taking a free pass. While very potent, this iteration of the Cubs’ offense combines for a 21.9 K% — with the righties contributing the most (24.1%).

While the Cubs are potent, the projected Pirates players appear to be punchless. Alliteration aside, the Pirates’ lineup combines for a .171 ISO and 4.7 BB%. Yikes. Starling Marte and Josh Bell are the only hitters with meaningful samples with an ISO above .200 — and remember Bell has struggled mightily since the All-Star Break.

While the Pirates lineup does not threaten opposing lefties very much, they also do not strike out much either. With a combined 18.6 K%, do not expect another 14-strikeout performance from Jose Quintana this evening.

Pitching Primer

Jose Quintana is putting together a solid season for the Cubs in 2019. His 4.21 xFIP barely edges his 4.11 ERA. His 21.6 K% and 6.3 BB% file under the solid category. Where Quintana struggles is the right-side of the hitting platoon.

While Jose boasts a 50.5% groundball rate against lefties this season, that number drops to 40.9% against righties. His hard-hit rate is at about 38.8% to both sides of the plate but the increase in fly balls to righties (36.1%) is a red flag for the southpaw.

That notwithstanding his outstanding 14-strikeout start was his third consecutive quality start. Quintana will look to give the Cubs length tonight and keep the Pirates away from an average Chicago bullpen.

Mitch Keller is making his second start since being recently recalled by the Pirates. Consequently, Keller bears partial responsibility for one of the Pirates only wins in August. Starting against the Angels on the road, Keller pitched for five innings — giving up only one run while striking out four Angels. Keller has been very solid in AAA this season — pitching to a 3.89 xFIP, 28.2 K%, 30.3 FB%, and 8.0 BB%. The higher walk-rate will not translate very well tonight against a professional Cubs lineup and could be Keller’s undoing. Keller walked two batters in his previous start.

The MLB Pick — Chicago Cubs -156 ML (use our FanDuel Sportsbook promo code to get these odds).

After a successful pick, last night with the first five innings total in the Padres and Phillies game, tonight’s game poses a very precarious situation. My instinct is telling me to stay away from this big line on the Cubs side. That said, a pick must be made.

Considering Quintana’s recent form and the Pirates ineptitude, I like the Cubs, tonight. That said, the early movement was on the Pirates until this morning. Since the game will be in the evening, I suggest waiting for a better number with some action likely headed towards the underdog. For the sake of the article though, I will take the Chicago Cubs to win at -156 on FanDuel Sportsbook.

Check back this week for more MLB predictions.

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About the Author

  • Joe Cistaro (joeycis)

  • Joe Cistaro has blogged on RotoGrinders since January 2017. He fell in love with daily fantasy sports after winning an NBA single-entry tournament on FanDuel in the fall of 2013. A small-time player, Joe enjoys writing about MLB and NBA DFS while connecting with the RotoGrinders community.

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