MLB Picks 6/21 – Chicago Cubs @ Pittsburgh Pirates
The Chicago Cubs (35-38) are on the road facing the struggling Pittsburgh Pirates (34-38) in the finale of a 3-game series this afternoon. Chicago dominated the first two games, shutting out Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday, and they’ve won all 5 meetings with Pittsburgh this season, winning each game by at least 4 runs. Pittsburgh has lost a season-high 8 straight games. Tonight’s starters are Kyle Hendricks (2-2, 3.18 ERA) for Chicago and Rich Hill (6-6, 4.31 ERA) for Pittsburgh.
Moneyline: Chicago -112, Pittsburgh -104
Run Line: Chicago -1.5 (+146), Pittsburgh +1.5 (-176)
Run Total: over 8.5 (-110) under 8.5 (-110)
On June 8, the Chicago Cubs were a season-low 10 games below .500 (26-36) following a 3-1 loss at the Los Angeles Angels, they appeared to be heading for a third straight losing season. Since then, the Cubs have caught fire going 10-2 over their last 12 games and are now within 3.5 games of first place Cincinnati (39-35) in the very winnable National League Central. The Cubs are the only team in the NL Central who has a positive run differential at plus 21, the four other teams in the division have all been outscored this season.
The Cubs turnaround has been sparked by young outfielder Christopher Morel. The 23-year-old played well as a rookie last year as he totaled 16 homers and 47 RBI across 113 games but somehow started the 2023 season with Triple-A Iowa. The Cubs called Morel up from Triple-A on May 8 and he’s already second on the team with 13 homers despite appearing in just 33 of the Chicago’s 73 games. He’s also hitting .289 with 29 RBI. Morel has 4 homers and 13 RBI during this 12-game stretch that has seen the Cubs get back into division contention.
Third baseman Patrick Wisdom (14 HR 28 RBI), second baseman Nico Horner (.282, 4 HR 35 RBI), shortstop Dansby Swanson (.263, 7 HR 31 RBI) and left fielder Ian Happ (.263, 5 HR 33 RBI) are all key contributors to a deep hitting lineup. Wisdom leads the team in home runs and is on the injured list with a sprained wrist.
Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman’s recent run of superb pitching has also provided a boost for the Cubs. The 31-year-old has won 7 straight starts after last night’s win against Pittsburgh, he has a 1.29 ERA during the win streak, including an 8-strikeout, 1-hit complete game shut out of the league’s best team, the Tampa Bay Rays, on May 29.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were the talk of baseball after getting off to a surprising 20-8 start to the season, but things quickly turned sour for the Pirates when the calendar turned to May, they started off the month getting swept at league-leading Tampa Bay and its been downhill ever since. Pittsburgh has lost 8 in a row and are now 34-38. One positive for Pittsburgh is the National League Central is currently average at best and a three or four game winning streak can catapult them into first place.
Power-hitting center fielder Jack Suwinski has established as Pittsburgh’s most dangerous hitter in his second MLB season. The 24-year-old leads the team with 15 homers while driving in 35 runs. Left-fielder Bryan Reynolds 40 RBI lead the team, he’s batting .279 and has swatted 8 homers. Pittsburgh signed the 28-year-old Reynolds to an 8-year, $106.75 million dollar extension in the offseason.
Pittsburgh welcomed back franchise icon Andrew McCutchen in the offseason after five seasons elsewhere. The 36-year-old McCutchen was drafted 11th overall by Pittsburgh in 2005, he then had nine excellent seasons for the organization from 2009-2017 where he was named the National League MVP in 2013 and led Pittsburgh to three straight postseason appearances in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He picked up his 2,000th career hit on June 11 at home against the Mets. McCutchen is hitting .264 with 9 homers and 24 RBI in his 16th MLB season.
The Cubs have dominated the Pirates this season, I don’t see why anything would change this afternoon..take the Cubs on the moneyline!
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