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MLB Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Wednesday, Sept. 23)

MLB Betting Odds, Picks & Predictions: Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (Wednesday, Sept. 23) article feature image

Dylan Buell/Getty Images. Pictured: Kyle Hendricks #28 of the Chicago Cubs.

Cubs vs. Pirates Odds

Cubs Odds -220 [Bet Now]
Pirates Odds +188 [Bet Now]
Over/Under 8.5 (-105/-115) [Bet Now]
First Pitch 7:05 p.m. ET

Odds as of Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. ET and via FanDuel. Get up to a $1,000 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The Chicago Cubs have officially clinched a spot in the post season, but will now take aim at National League Central title. They send Kyle Hendricks to the mound in hopes that he can extend their 3.5 game lead in the division against the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates.

Advanced Stats Glossary

FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck. xFIP  is a regressed version of FIP that adjusts or “normalizes’ the home run component based on park factors.

wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.

wOBA or Weighted On-Base Average is a catch-all hitting metric with more predictive value than on-base percentage. An average MLB hitter can be expected to post a .320 wOBA. xwOBA is a regressed version of wOBA that accounts for variables like park factors.

BaseRuns is a formula designed to estimate how many runs a team would be expected to score (or allow) given their underlying offensive (or defensive) performance. In other words, BaseRuns is a context-neutral run estimator used to evaluate teams. Major League average for an individual batter per game is 0.50 BaseRuns and a for a pitcher its 0.52 BaseRuns per inning.

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs have been average offensively this season, checking in with a .309 wOBA and 91 wRC+. Ian Happ and Jason Heyward have been the Cubs’ best hitters this year, as they are the only two players with a wOBA over .360.

The Cubs have have been solid against right-handed pitching so far this season, checking in with a .318 wOBA and 97 wRC+. Even though the bats have been quiet as of late, I think the Cubs will be able to get to Trevor Williams. 

Cubs Probable Starter 

Kyle Hendricks, RHP

Projected & Actual Stats (via Fangraphs)

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Hendricks is one of the best tacticians in the game. None of his pitches top out over 90 mph, but it doesn’t matter. He’s so good at mixing up his three-pitch combination of sinker/changeup/fastball that batters have struggled to hit him consistently. Hendricks has posted a 3.62 xFIP so far this season, showing that he’s mixing his pitch really well.

Hendricks’ changeup has been really good, allowing only a .246 wOBA to opponents while producing a 31.1% whiff rate. His incredible ability to mix up pitches allows him to be dominant while still throwing at such a low velocity, similar to Greg Maddux. For example, you know Hendricks is on with his pitch sequencing so far this season when his fastball — averaging 87 mph — is generating a 21.9% whiff rate.

The Pirates struggled mightily against every single pitch type this year, Hendricks has a fantastic matchup tonight.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The reason the Pirates have the worst record in MLB is because of their offense. They rank dead last in MLB in terms of wOBA (.271) and wRC+ (68). They’ve also been the worst team in the league against right-handed pitching, reporting a .256 wOBA and 58 wRC+. Since the Pirates haven’t shown any sort of fire power this season, Hendricks will have a fantastic matchup against them tonight.

Pirates Probable Starter

Trevor Williams, RHP

Projected & Actual Stats (via Fangraphs)

Pitch Arsenal (via Baseball Savant)

Williams hasn’t been great so far this season, posting a 4.90 xFIP through 49.2 innings. He’s mainly a fastball pitcher, but hitters have been tagging it all around the park to the tune of a .406 wOBA. His slider has been his biggest issue, as he’s allowed a .368 average to opponents.

To be honest, Williams hasn’t been effective with any of his pitches this season, so I think the Cubs will have a good opportunity to get back on track offensively tonight.

Projections and Pick

I think the Hendricks/Williams pitching matchup is a huge mismatch in the Cubs favor. Therefore, I am going to back the Cubs spread for the first five innings at -150, but I would only bet it up to -158.

Pick: Cubs First Five Innings -0.5 (-150)

[Bet the Cubs F5 at FanDuel completely risk-free for $1,000]

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