Pitching Rules As Cubs Face Pirates in Weekend Series

Cubs vs Pirates Lines Favor Pittsburgh in Divisional Battle

The Pittsburgh Pirates try to move up in the NL Central standings when they host the Chicago Cubs for a three-game weekend series beginning on Friday.

Pittsburgh has dropped two in a row heading into this series, while the Cubs have lost two of their last three contests.

Chicago is in a battle for the top spot in the division with the Milwaukee Brewers, with the teams separated by percentage points for much of the last week.

The Cubs have been climbing the MLB rankings since the start of the season, as they try to return to the postseason for the first time since 2020.

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The Pirates have had an even longer drought without postseason play, having last advanced to the MLB playoffs in 2015.

Pittsburgh is batting the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals for third place in the division standings, with all five of the teams in the division separated by just six games entering action on Thursday.

In one of the MLB best bets today, Pittsburgh is getting the edge in the betting odds for the opener, sitting at -140 on the moneyline compared to the Cubs’ +125.

The run line has Chicago at -190 when getting 1.5 runs, while the Pirates are listed at +160 when giving those runs. The over/under for Friday’s contest is set at seven runs, with -110 odds on both sides of that wager.

The series opener is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. ET on Friday, followed by a 4:05 p.m. ET first pitch for Saturday’s contest. The three-game set will wrap up on Sunday with a scheduled 1:35 p.m. ET start.

Game 1

Cubs logo Cubs vs Pirates Pirates logo

Day/Time:
Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pitching Matchups

Game 1

  • Cubs logo Javier Assad (Chicago) vs Jared Jones (Pittsburgh) Pirates logo

One of the better MLB starting pitchers this season will start things off for Chicago, as Javier Assad comes into the game with a 3-0 record and a 1.66 ERA that ranks fourth in the majors.

The righty is making his eighth start of the season and has allowed one or fewer runs in each of his last four starts. Assad shut out the Brewers over six innings on Sunday, giving up four hits while striking out four and walking three.

Pittsburgh will counter with 22-year-old right-hander Jared Jones, who has been impressive in his rookie MLB season. Jones has made seven starts, going 2-3 with a 2.63 ERA and striking out 52 in 41 innings.

Jones was fantastic in his last start, throwing seven shutout innings against the Colorado Rockies, giving up just one hit while striking out 10 and walking none.

Game 2

  • Cubs logo Justin Steele (Chicago) vs Paul Skenes (Pittsburgh) Pirates logo

Left-hander Justin Steele makes his second start since suffering a strained hamstring on Opening Day, which landed him on the MLB injured list. Steele is 0-0 with a 0.96 ERA in his two starts, which includes a 68-pitch outing on Monday against the San Diego Padres.

Steele was on a pitch count in his return but was very good, going 4⅔ shutout innings and allowing just three hits while striking out two and walking one.

The much-anticipated major league debut of Paul Skenes will happen on Saturday, as the No. 1 overall pick in the July 2023 draft gets called up after dominating in Triple-A this season.

The 21-year-old righty has allowed just three earned runs in 27⅓ innings in Triple-A, striking out 45 batters.

Pittsburgh was trying to bring Skenes along slowly after he had a taxing junior season at LSU in 2023, his only campaign with the Tigers, which ended in a national championship.

Game 3

  • Cubs logo Undecided (Chicago) vs Mitch Keller (Pittsburgh) Pirates logo

The Cubs may be left scrambling for a starter for Sunday’s contest after moving Assad and Steele up a day from their originally scheduled starts in this series.

Jameson Taillon had been scheduled to start the opener of this series but that schedule was switched up on Thursday, leading some to believe Taillon may be headed to the injured list. If a starter isn’t called up from the minors, look for the Cubs to go with a bullpen game for the finale.

Pittsburgh will call on right-hander Mitch Keller to wrap up the series on Sunday. Keller is 3-3 with a 4.41 ERA in eight starts in 2024, striking out 44 in 49 innings of work.

He’s coming off a complete-game win against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, allowing one run on five hits (including a solo home run) while striking out five and walking one.

Will Anyone Be Able To Score?

After running through the starting pitchers in this series, it seems like getting runs on the board isn’t going to be easy for either MLB team.

The Cubs have had the better offense this season, ranking 11th in the majors in runs (174) entering Thursday’s action, while the Pirates have struggled, tying for 26th in baseball with 134 runs.

Chicago third baseman Christopher Morel has provided some power for the Cubs, hitting eight home runs and driving in 24 runs. But, the 24-year-old is batting just .211 and has struck out 35 times in 37 games.

He enters this series in a bit of a slump, going 1-for-10 in his last three games with five strikeouts, though the one hit was a home run.

There isn’t a lot of pop in the Pittsburgh lineup, with the team’s 27 home runs ranking in the bottom three of the majors. Shortstop Oneil Cruz leads the team with five home runs.

He’s batting .252 with four doubles, 15 RBI and 11 runs scored and has gone 5-for-11 with a double, a home run, five RBI and two runs scored over his last three MLB games.

Cubs Take Series Over Pirates

The Cubs vs Pirates lines are favoring Chicago simply because it has been the better team this MLB season. These teams are going to get familiar with each other over the next 10 days, with a four-game series scheduled for next weekend at Wrigley Field.

Both teams have some very solid pitching, but the Cubs have shown they have the better offensive lineup this season. That will be the difference as Chicago takes at least two out of three in this series.

For MLB betting news, MLB scores analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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