Francisco Liriano (11-7, 3.41 ERA), seeking his 200th strikeout of the season, gets the ball for the Pittsburgh Pirates (94-60) as they go up against Jason Hammel (9-6, 3.79 ERA) and the Chicago Cubs (89-64) in the second of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. The Pirates won the last game 3-2, extending a seven-game winning streak. The game gets underway at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sep. 26 and will air on FOX.
In his last start, Hammel pitched 5.0 innings, allowing three runs (one unearned), striking out six and walking one in a 9-5 victory over the Brewers. Kris Bryant (.278, 86 Rs, 26 HRs, 98 RBIs, 13 SBs) continued his strong season yesterday, going 2 for 4 with one run. The Pirates were victorious over the Dodgers 3-2 the last time Liriano pitched. He went 7.0 innings, allowing two runs, striking out nine and walking two. Pedro Alvarez (.245, 57 Rs, 26 HRs, 75 RBIs, 2 SBs) went 1 for 1 yesterday.
Chicago is a slight -102 underdog in this game and the Over/Under (O/U) is unavailable at the moment. When playing as the underdog, the Cubs have a 25-26 record and overall money line at +1,167. They are 3-1 as the underdog over their last 10 games. They have been very patient at the plate during home games, leading the NL with an average of 3.7 walks per game. Transitioning to the pitching staff, the Cubs don't allow many hitters to get on base, leading the league with a 1.18 WHIP. The have been extremely effective at striking opposing batters out, leading the NL with 8.8 strikeouts per game.
On the other side, the Pirates have a nice record of 74-35 when they are favored and are +2,196 overall with the money line. They have played at the top of their game when rated as favorite recently. They managed a 5-2 record when playing as the favorite and an SU record of 6-4. Pittsburgh's pitching staff tends to perform poorly when they play division rivals. They've allowed an average of 4.3 runs per game against teams from the NL Central, higher than their season average of 3.7. The Pittsburgh pitching staff has been an intimidating group this year, averaging 8.2 strikeouts per game.
The Cubs have mostly come out on top against the Pirates in their previous 17 games this season, earning a 10-7 record. The Cubs will take on a left-hander (Liriano) in this game and have an 18-13 record against left-handed starting pitchers this season. Taking the hill against the Pirates will be the right-hander Hammel. They sport a 76-46 record against righties.
Predictions: SU Winner - Pit
The Cubs are 39-29 against their divisional rivals, while the Pirates are 30-38 against their division.
When leading after 7 innings, Chicago is 36-26, while Pittsburgh is 37-33.
The Pirates are coming off of a hot pitching game where they recorded 12 strikeouts. The Cubs have a record of 12-20 when they are struck out that many times or more.
When they are outhit, the Cubs are 17-45. The Pirates have a 19-46 record when opponents outhit them.
Ranking 22nd in home runs, Pittsburgh has hit 134 this season. Chicago ranks ninth with 166 home runs.
Ranking 15th, Chicago is in the top half of the league in hits, notching 8.27 per game. Pittsburgh ranks in the top five at third with 9.17.
Chicago and Pittsburgh both rank in the bottom half of the league for their on-base plus slugging percentage. Chicago sits at 17th with an OPS of .724 and Pittsburgh ranks 16th with an OPS of .725.
When the Pirates allow at least one home run, they are 40-36, well-matched with the Cubs who are 42-41 when allowing at least one homer.