This season the NL West was the best division in baseball with three of the four teams finishing with 97 or more wins. Two of those teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs, meet for the 20th time this year to determine who will advance in the NL playoffs and earn a spot against fellow NL West competitor, the 100-win St. Louis Cardinals (8.05pm ET, Wednesday).
Here is our preview with betting picks advice for this one and done MLB showdown:
This is just the second time since 2008 that the Cubs have reached the playoffs. That year, Chicago won an ML-best 97 games, the same number they won this year. Led by a young and powerful lineup that boasts Anthony Rizzo (.278 BA, 31 HR, 101 RBI), rookie of the year hopeful Kris Bryant (.275 BA, 26 HR, 99 RBI) and fellow rookie Kyle Schwarber (.246 BA, 16 HR, 43 RBI), the Cubs found success in an incredibly difficult NL West. Chicago is the hottest team in baseball by far, going 46-19 in their final 65. The Cubs were also the MLB’s best road team with 48 wins compared to just 33 losses.
Speaking of those Pirates, just like the Cubs, Pittsburgh is led by a young, aggressive and speedy group including Starling Marte (.287 BA, 19 HR, 81 RBI, 30 SB), Andrew McCutchen (.292 BA, 23 HR, 86 RBI, 36 SB) and Pedro Alvarez (.243 BA, 27 HR, 77 RBI). But more than offense, Pittsburgh has had great pitching success especially closer Mark Melancon, who set a franchise record with 51 saves in 53 opportunities. Overall, Pittsburgh’s pen was one of the best in baseball, likely explaining their 36-17 ML-best record in one run games.
This will be the first time the Pirates and Cubs, whose season series is 11-8 in favor of Pittsburgh, have met in the postseason. The match-up, which pits 22-game winner Jake Arrieta (pictured) against 19-game winner Gerrit Cole, is a pitcher’s dream, as both are Cy Young hopefuls who have carried their teams to this point. Both have also seen incredible success against the team they are set to face this week.
Arrieta, whose 22 wins were the best in baseball, finished the year 3-1 with a 0.75 ERA in five starts against Pittsburgh this year and Cole is 7-1 with a 2.88 ERA in nine career starts against the Cubs, including a 2.13 ERA and 2-1 record this season. Additionally, at PNC Park, where the game will be played, Cole was 9-3 this year with a 2.83 ERA.
Our Preview’s Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates Betting Pick
The worst part about this game is that it is just that, one game. These two teams deserve a best of five series at least. Given the way they have performed all year it’s a travesty that it comes down to just one game. But then again, in a way, this is exactly how it should be. These two teams fought and clawed in a division with the Cardinals and they will be fighting and clawing for a shot to take on those very same Cardinals in the NLDS.
Arrieta and Cole are two incredibly gifted young pitchers so expect this duel to be close. That’s where the Pirates bullpen comes in and their record in one run games. The Cubs have the talent and no doubt with put up a fight, but their inexperience may play against them. Pittsburgh is a young team as well but they are coming off of two straight wildcard games. They know the situation and the moment won’t be too big.