Vegas Odds & MLB Predictions: Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates (August 1st, 2018)
First Place Cubs Meet Surging Pirates
The Chicago Cubs dropped a 5-4 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. The Pirates jumped out to a 3-0 lead only to see Chicago tie it the very next inning. Pittsburgh would then add singles in the fifth and eighth, taking a 5-3 lead into the ninth.
Chicago made it a one-run game when Addison Russell doubled to cash in David Bote. But he was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple with the top of the order coming up. With the momentum crushed, Anthony Rizzo struck out and Ben Zobrist grounded out to end the game.
The win means that Pittsburgh is 8-3 in the second half and 14-3 in their last 17 games. That makes them the hottest team in the National League and it emboldened their general manager to make two big moves at the trade deadline. They acquired the best pitcher in Chris Archer (also under team control for three more years) and closer Keone Kela. The win against the first-place Cubs allowed them to pull within six games of first in the NL Central. They are also three games back of a wild card spot.
The loss allowed Milwaukee to pull even with Chicago for first in the division. The Cubs have now lost three of four to division rivals St Louis and Pittsburgh. They are 6-7 in the second half.
Pittsburgh is averaging 5.82 RPG in the second half and their team ERA is 3.03 which is best in the NL.
Chicago is averaging 4.23 RPG in the second half and their team ERA is a surprisingly poor 5.37 and 13th in the league. The Cubs ERA was second in the first half at 3.56.
Cole Hamels (5-9, 4.72 ERA) is making his first start since coming over to the Cubs before the trade deadline. He’s pitching on eight days rest. He had a terrible start last time out, allowing seven runs in five innings in a 15-3 loss to Oakland. It was the second time in July he allowed seven earned runs in a game. Texas was 1-3 in those games and 4-6 in his last ten.
Nick Kingham (5-5, 4.80 ERA) saw his ERA jump from 4.11 to 4.80 after he gave up six runs in three innings to the New York Mets. It snapped a three-game run of quality starts where he allowed six runs in 18.2 innings of work. Pittsburgh won each of those three and are 4-6 in his last ten.
Chicago is -120 favorites and Pittsburgh +100 underdogs. Hamels is no doubt going to want to make a great first impression with his new team, but the Pirates got a significant moral boost too because of wins and trades. I like the Pirates chances to return the faith to management. The Pick: Pirates 3-2.