Cubs vs Pirates, Sept. 3
Today’s early game features two teams trying to avoid last place in the NL Central. The Pirates are not only trying to avoid finishing in last place but are also trying to avoid having the worst record in the Majors this season. The Cubs came into the season with high hopes, but an underwhelming first half caused the front office to start the rebuild earlier and faster than most anticipated. The Cubs have played .500 ball lately which is an improvement from the long losing streak they were on when they came out of the all-star break. There was not much anticipation for the Pirates this season and their slow rebuild continues. Do the Pirates have anything left in the tank to offer? Can the Cubs finish strong and jump start their rebuild with momentum heading into next season?
Brutal for Brault: Pirates
Losing Musgrove was a big blow to this Pirate rotation, but it was necessary to try and get some guys that can produce on the offensive side for an offense that has just been nonexistent. The Pirates are 1-4 in their last five games and have only scored a combined 12 runs across those five games, and when this is not just a slump but an almost everyday occurrence, you’re simply not going to win many games in this league. Steven Brault came back to the team late in the season, but outside of his last start, he has been at the top of this Pirate rotation. Brault did just get shelled by the Cardinals, but in his first four starts of the season, he only allowed four runs while striking out 13. The Pirates though have not been able to provide him any run support and have lost all five of his starts this season. The Cubs do own a 8-4 lead in the head to head series this season but they have not seen Brault thus far. We’ll see if he can shake off his first bad outing of his shortened season and bounce back.
The growing pains of this rebuild are quite evident for this Cubs team but they are possibly showing signs of life. Although it’s against bad teams that are basically going through the motions, simply winning is the first step in getting this whole thing turned around for the Cubs. While they are not setting the world on fire, playing .500 ball is a step forward from where they were earlier in the season. Today, Alec Mills takes the hill, and despite one bad start he has been solid over the past month. In his last seven starts, Mills has only allowed more than two runs in two of those starts. Like the Pirates, this sub-par Cubs team has not won many of Mills’ solid outings due to lack of offensive production. The Cubs have only been able to win five of Mills’ 14 starts this year. Mills has not faced the Pirates in any of the 12 games the two teams have played this season. This is going to be as good of an opportunity as it gets for the Cubs to get Mills another win before the season finishes.
Cubs vs. Pirates: The Pick
Looking at the games played between these two teams this season the under is a solid 8-4. Even though these teams have struggling offenses, I can’t trust either bullpen to get the job done with their four and five run ERAs. We can however trust these starters, who outside of one bad start a piece, have been solid for a month against these bad offenses so we’re taking the first five under in this one.