Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Prediction and Pick

On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Chicago Cubs in the first of a four-game series. Jason Radowitz breaks down his Pirates vs. Cubs prediction.
Jason Radowitz
Thu, September 2, 6:47 AM EDT

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Prediction and Pick

 Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Probable Pitchers

  • Pirates: Mitch Keller (4-10, 6.75 ERA)   
  • Cubs: Keegan Thompson (3-3, 3.09 ERA)

Cubs vs Pirates Odds

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Prediction

The Pirates offense hasn’t shown up all season, but there’s a chance Pittsburgh’s bats start to heat up tonight.

Keegan Thompson will take the mound for the Cubs. In his last two starts, he’s allowed seven runs in 6 innings, including 10 hits, four walks, and just two strikeouts. In those two outings against the White Sox and Royals, he’s got a 9 ERA.

With those two games, he’s also got an xFIP of 7.58 with a strikeout rate of just 6.1 percent. Thompson has also walked 12.1 percent of batters faced.

On top of all that, he’s inducing just 38.5 percent ground balls and giving up 23.1 percent line-drive contact. Furthermore, Thompson has been awful against his last 18 righties, allowing a .462 wOBA and ISO of .200.

The Pirates lineup isn’t flashy, and they just fired their hitting coach, but any major league hitters can succeed against Thompson right now.

The projected lineup still has an ISO of .195 and wOBA of .307, thanks to two big bats in their lineup against righties. Bryan Reynolds is hitting a .286 ISO and wOBA of .392 in the last 30 days against righties, while Yoshi Tsutsugo has been a pleasant surprise as of late with a .846 ISO and .637 wOBA in his previous 14 plate appearances against righties.

On the flip side, Mitch Keller hasn’t been all that great either. He’s got an xFIP of 5.66, a strikeout rate of 16.7 percent, and a walk rate of 10 percent in his last 30 days. Keller is giving up 25 percent line drives and a high wOBA of lefties and righties. Righties are hitting for a bit more power against Keller.

Like Thompson, Keller struggled in his last outing, giving up seven runs in 5.1 innings against the Cardinals. He allowed two home runs and walked three batters while striking out just two batters.

Both pitchers have trouble striking batters out. Meanwhile, the Cubs offense is not to get excited about either. Only Ian Happ has shown legitimate success against righties in the last 30 days with an ISO of .299. But the Cubs can still limit grounders and hit plenty of line drives, which is something Keller allows plenty of as well.

I’ll take over 4.5 in the first five innings between these two teams. It’s not about the hitters in this one. It’s about the pitchers and how poorly they’ve pitched. We’re fading Mitch Keller and Keegan Thompson. Nobody would be surprised if one of these two pitchers allowed five runs by themselves. Neither should finish this game with a quality start.

Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Prediction: Over 4.5 F5 (-115)

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