While the Pittsburgh Pirates might be in first place at 34-30 they don’t have everything figured out just yet.
Roansy Contreras has been sent to the bullpen and that means Luis Ortiz holds his spot in the rotation after making his last appearance in relief of Contreras. Today, Ortiz will face the Chicago Cubs who are 28-37 and in fourth place in the NL Central standings, 6.5 games behind Pittsburgh.
This is the first of a six-game road trip for the Bucs and the first of nine straight against the division. Ortiz comes in at 1-2 in six appearances, five of those starts, with a 4.23 ERA. He will be opposed by former Pirate, Jameson Taillon who enters with a 7.02 ERA and a 1-4 record across 10 starts.
Let’s take a look at the odds for Game 1 of three at Wrigley Field before these teams meet next week for three more at PNC Park.
Pirates vs. Cubs odds, run line and total
Pirates vs. Cubs prediction and pick
Luis Ortiz has been pretty solid for the Pirates replacing Vince Velasquez in the rotation, but there are some warning signs after he gave up 10 hits in five innings last time out.
Ultimately, he only allowed two runs, but that was against the Oakland Athletics, one of the worst lineups in baseball. For the season he’s allowed 35 hits and 15 walks in 27.2 innings of work with just 16 strikeouts. Ortiz’s abysmally low K/BB ratio of 1.07 and his 1.807 WHIP are serious signs of concern and explain his 6.09 FIP.
However, just like he got lucky that Oakland only scored two runs on him last time out, he's lucky that he’s facing the Chicago Cubs. In June, the Cubs are dead last in the MLB hitting .177 with a last place .532 OPS.
In 10 games, they have scored 26 runs, 28th in the MLB this month are last. They’re already hamstrung with Cody Bellinger on the IL, and with Patrick Wisdom swinging an ice cold bat this month has a chance of turning disastrous.
So far in June, Wisdom has a .291 OPS, just two singles in 22 at-bats with 14 strikeouts to three walks. Dansby Swanson has a .547 OPS also with 14 Ks and Ian Happ checks in at .485.
Four runs is the most they’ve scored this month and while Taillon has an ERA of 7.02 his FIP is 4.66 and he is incredibly overdue for a good start.
Not to be lost in the bloodbath that could be the NL Central these next two weeks is the fact that Andrew McCuthen my personal hero and favorite Pittsburgh athlete of all-time got his 2,000th hit on Sunday in his first at-bat.
However, on Saturday when I was there, he went 0-3 and was stuck on 1,999. It took him every game of a nine-game homestand to get three hits, so I like the Pirates to win this one as an underdog, but I like the under more. That’ll be my pick.
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Game odds refresh periodically and are subject to change