Wednesday MLB Betting Odds, Preview for Cubs vs. Pirates: How to Bet Chicago Against Woeful Pittsburgh (May 26)

Wednesday MLB Betting Odds, Preview for Cubs vs. Pirates: How to Bet Chicago Against Woeful Pittsburgh (May 26) article feature image
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Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images. Pictured: Kris Bryant.

  • Pittsburgh and Chicago continue their three-game series on Wednesday following the Cubs' opening win the night prior.
  • The Pirates are the only team without a chance at winning the NL Central, while the Cubs are closing the distance with St. Louis.
  • Kevin Davis breaks down what number he's waiting for on the Cubs moneyline before he places a bet.

Cubs vs. Pirates Odds

Cubs Odds -140
Pirates Odds +130
Over/Under 8.5 (-120/+100)
Time 6:35 p.m. ET
TV MLB.TV
Odds as of Tuesday evening and via William Hill.

In the NL Central, every team other than the Pittsburgh Pirates has a plausible path to winning the division. Currently the Pirates are in last place in the divisional standings with a 18-28 record. On Wednesday night, they host a Chicago Cubs team with a 24-22 record that is only 1.5 games behind the first-place St. Louis Cardinals.

Currently Pittsburgh has a run differential of -78 which is the worst in the league. On average, the Pirates lose each game by 1.7 runs. The Cubs have a run differential of +12, meaning their record is not a fluke.

Both teams have relatively mediocre starting pitchers for Wednesday’s game. The question for Wednesday’s game is over which starting pitcher is more lackluster: Trevor Williams for the Cubs or Wil Crowe for the Pirates.

Cubs Need Continued Improvement from Trevor Williams

In his first season with the Chicago Cubs, Trevor Williams has continued to have a high ERA. In his previous five seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Williams only had an ERA below four in 2018. Other than his 2018 season, Williams has been mediocre throughout his whole career.

In 2020, Williams had a 6.18 ERA. In 2019, Williams had a 5.38 ERA. This season he has gotten off to a similarly poor start as he has a 5.97 ERA. In another worrying sign for the Cubs, Williams is averaging less than 4 1/3 innings per start.

However, Williams is showing improvement. Currently, he has an xFIP of 4.24 which is more than one-and-a-half runs lower than his ERA. Additionally, throughout his career he has never had a strikeout rate above 7.97 strikeouts per nine innings.

This season Williams has a strikeout rate of 10.04, and opposing hitters have a .371 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) against Williams this season which shows that he has been the victim of bad luck. If Williams can have a little bit of luck on Wednesday night, then the Cubs should win.

With Williams being vulnerable, the Cubs may have to rely on their bullpen. Unfortunately for Chicago, their bullpen has a 5.07 FIP which is the highest in the league. Even when you adjust for ballpark effects, the Cubs bullpen has an xFIP of 4.5 which is the fourth worst in the league.

Backing up Williams and the Cubbies bullpen is a strong lineup. Currently Chicago is averaging 4.63 runs per game which is higher than the average of 4.35 runs per game. With a lineup that includes 1B Anthony Rizzo and OF Kris Bryant, if the Cubs win, it will be because their run production and/or because Williams surprisingly throws a good game.

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Wil Crowe Has Been Disastrous for Pirates

The starting pitcher for the Pirates Wil Crowe is hard to assess because he only has pitched for 34 innings in his career. However, in his lack of big-league experience, Crowe has been a disaster.

Last year in three starts, Crowe pitched only 8 1/3 innings for the Washington Nationals. In those three starts Crowe had an 11.88 ERA and a 7.75 xFIP. Since the Pirates acquired Crowe this winter in the Josh Bell trade, he has not fared much better. This season Crowe has a 0-2 record after five starts with a 4.91 ERA,and a 4.66 xFIP.

What is odd about Crowe is that the last time he recorded a win as a pitcher was in 2019 for the Nationals Double-A affiliate. I am not a believer in pitcher win-loss records, but I do find it troubling if a pitcher cannot find a way to win any games even if its for the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.

What is further problematic for Pittsburgh is not their pitching but their lineup. Currently the Pirates average only 3.35 runs per game which is the worst in the league. In fact, Pittsburgh scores one fewer run per game than the league average of 4.35. Out of the eight position players in the Pirates lineup, most of them are below average offensively.

Cubs-Pirates Pick

The Cubs are the obvious pick to win. Pittsburgh is arguably the worst team in the league, and Chicago is a playoff contender. However, the obvious bets are usually the worst ones.

For Wednesday’s game, I make an exception to my rule to avoid the obvious bets. Pittsburgh is so awful that the Cubs as a favorite are an attractive bet. The Pirates have an awful lineup and an even worse pitcher than the Cubs. Trevor Williams of the Cubbies may be a weak pitcher, but he has shown some promise.

At -140 the Cubs are close to being a good bet, but I am going to wait for them to drop to -130 or better.

Pick: Chicago Cubs Moneyline at -130 or better.

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