MLB Betting Picks July 1 – Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:

The closest division in MLB could get a lot tighter the week before the All-Star break. The Chicago Cubs hold a share of the lead with the Pittsburgh Pirates just five games back.

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The NL Central rivals open a four-game set on Monday night at PNC Park. The teams have played three times this year with the Cubs winning twice. They’ll also open the post-break portion of the schedule with a three-game set at Wrigley Field.

Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh Pirates

Date and Time: Monday, July 1, 2019, 7:05 p.m. ET

Location: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA

Probable Pitchers: Adbert Alzolay vs. Trevor Williams

Opening MLB Odds: Chicago -120, Pittsburgh +100, O/U 9.5

Cubs at Pirates TV Coverage: ESPN

Odds Analysis

If the Cubs could win on the road they’d be running away with the division. But their struggles continued in Cincinnati over the weekend when they dropped two of three for their fifth straight road series loss. They are 4-12 over that span and their 16 road victories overall are the fewest in the NL and more than only Kansas City, Detroit and Baltimore in the entire league. The Cubs won two of three games earlier this season outscoring the Pirates 14-5. Those were played in Chicago where the Cubs have been a much different team.

It seems like no one wants to take control of the division and that’s leaving the Bucs right in the thick of the race. They responded to a seven-game losing streak by winning nine of their last 14 games, and that mark could have been better if not for a pair of losses to Milwaukee to end the weekend. Pittsburgh scored just five runs in the three games. That came after a stretch where the Bucs scored double-figures in two straight games and three of four. The Pirates play Chicago and Milwaukee during their seven-game homestand and can mess up the standins. They will need to improve on their 17-19 record at PNC Park to do that.


Probable Pitchers

We haven’t seen the Cubs develop much of their own pitching talent recently, but they have one in Adbert Alzolay ( 1-0, 2.08 ERA ), who just recently made his big league debut. The team’s top pitching prospect will make his second start and third appearance of the season on Monday night, looking to extend his body of work. In his debut Alzolay went 4.0 innings giving up just a solo homer with five strikeouts in a win over the Mets.

Five days later Alzolay made his first start lasting 4.2 innings and again giving up just a solo home run against the Braves. The hit led off the game, but showing the savvy of a veteran, Alzolay wasn’t deterred. He retired 12 of the next 13 batters and was yanked after walking three. “He did well, You can see how good he’s going to be,” Joe Maddon said about his young hurler, who was named to the NL’s Futures Game roster.

Trevor Williams (2-2, 4.25 ERA ) hasn’t been the same since returning from the injured list,  but he was much better in his last outing. On the bump for the first time in a month, Williams surrendered nine hits and seven runs over 5.0 innings against the Tigers. He struckout seven without a walk and yielded a pair of home runs. The signs were more encouraging last week. He allowed four runs and eight hits in 6.2 innings in a loss to Houston.

“I’m thankful I’m healthy and that my body feels great,” Williams said. The Bucs will need him to return to his pre-IL form if they want any chance of making a run. Williams compiled a 3.33 ERA over his first nine starts. While his control has been masterful, William has surrendered two homers in each of his last two starts and a total of five over his last three outings.

Key Stat

Which Pittsburgh team is going to show up for this crucial series before the All-Star break? The Bucs totaled five runs over the weekend, but they did escape with one victory over the Brewers. In four games prior to that series, the Pirates scored 36 runs hitting double figures three times. The Bucs were blanked twice when the clubs met earlier this season and were outscored 14-5. They hit .264 as a team but score just 4.59 runs per outing despite ranking seventh in team batting average.

Bet Cubs at Pirates at BookMaker.eu

The Cubs stink on the road and the Pirates haven’t been the best bet at home, so I guess something has to give. Alzolay has been sharp in his two outings and is one of the Cubs’ top prospects. They also have a closer now that Craig Kimbrel has joined the club. Now he just needs an opportunity to pitch. I expect the Cubs offense will get to Williams and when it does the bullpen should be able to lock this one down.

MLB Score Prediction: Cubs 6, Pirates 3

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