Cubs vs Pirates Prediction Today | MLB Odds, Picks for Thursday, August 24
Duane Burleson/Getty Images. Pictured: Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson.
Cubs vs. Pirates Odds
The Cubs continue to hang around in the NL Central race, sitting 3 1/2 games back of the first-place Brewers with just about a month to go in the season. With four wins in their last five tries and the Pirates waiting on the schedule, things are looking up.
Let's break down the best way to bet this one in our Cubs vs. Pirates preview and prediction.
It's hard to say Justin Steele has been bad in the month of August, but his production has certainly slowed considerably.
He owns a 4.43 ERA across four starts and hitters are .298 off of him since the calendar last flipped. His xBA has now been roughly .275 since his dominant June, and the likely cause would be a steady decline in ground balls.
While Steele may not have a glaring issue with home runs, the downtick in grounders has coupled with a rising hard-hit rate to create some issues when the lefty isn't missing bats. His hard-hit rate has climbed with every month this year and his barrel rate has stood at 6% or worse for the last three.
Steele has fortunately been striking out hitters like a madman in his past seven starts and will be hoping to rack up some more on Thursday to mask his worsening contact numbers.
Speaking of worsening numbers, the Cubs have been slumping lately at the dish. They've hit just .231 over the past 14 days with a measly 91 wRC+, but considering their BABIP sits at a low .257 — which is exactly 50 points worse than their season average — things should start to improve.
Chicago could stand to be a bit more patient at the plate with an average 8.3% walk rate, but it is still punching out in just 21.1% of plate appearances and making contact.
The Pirates have yet to announce a starter at the time of this writing, but it's Andre Jackson's turn in the rotation. Considering he hasn't pitched in six days since going 4 1/3 against the Twins, and with long reliever Osvaldo Bido working with three days of rest after throwing 69 pitches on Sunday, it's possible we see a combination of the two for this one.
We'll focus on Jackson, who has worked into the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, in his only two starts for the Pirates. He's struck out 11 in a total of eight frames, though he's allowed two homers and walked five.
Jackson's xBA for the year stands at .283, so continuing to strike batters out at this pace will be imperative to his success, as will limiting the walks as he had done all year prior to his last two outings.
The Pirates have been right around the league average offensively over the last two weeks, thanks in part to a beefy 11.7% walk rate, but they continue to lack power with a .154 ISO and their .296 BABIP is troubling next to a .235 batting average. They've also just lost one of their better hitters in Henry Davis to injury.
Cubs vs. Pirates
Betting Pick & Prediction
I'm not too fearful of the Pirates here given Steele's ability to limit walks for the season and his ability to roll up grounders.
Even if that number has been coming down, Pittsburgh hasn't made much hard contact of late and shouldn't be able to get much done against a strike-thrower. When you mix in their 24th-ranked wRC+ against lefties, the matchup becomes a great one for Chicago.
I do think some positive regression will hit Chicago soon, and whether it's by facing Jackson, Bido or the Pirates' 19th-ranked bullpen, this one should be academic for the Cubs against a weakened Pittsburgh team.
The Cubs have a ton of value on the moneyline.
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