Jon Lester (10-11, 3.46 ERA) and the Chicago Cubs (89-63) meet Gerrit Cole (17-8, 2.64 ERA) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (93-60) in a matchup between two pitchers seeking 200 strikeouts. This is the first game of a three-game series at Wrigley Field. The Pirates enter this series looking to continue a six-game winning streak. The game starts at 2:20 p.m. ET on Friday, Sep. 25 and will air on WLS, RTPT and MLBN.
In his last start, Lester pitched 6.0 innings, allowing four runs, striking out seven and walking three in a 4-3 loss to the Cardinals. The Pirates were victorious over the Dodgers 4-3 the last time Cole pitched. He went 7.0 innings, giving up three runs and striking out nine. Andrew McCutchen (.296, 88 Rs, 22 HRs, 95 RBIs, 10 SBs) went 1 for 4 yesterday.
Chicago, a -119 favorite, will look to capitalize at home against Pittsburgh. The Over/Under (O/U) for the matchup is unavailable at the moment. The Cubs perform well as a favorite with a 64-37 record and have an overall money line of +1,167. They have performed well against their division to earn an SU record of 39-28 and a 26-14 record when they were the favorite. They have been very patient at the plate, leading the NL with an average of 3.5 walks per game. As for the pitching staff, the Cubs lead the league in WHIP at 1.18. An area where the Cubs are particularly strong is striking batters out, where they average an NL-best 8.8 K's per game.
Switching gears, the Pirates come into this game with a win percentage of .432 when playing as the underdog (19-25) and an overall money line of +2,096. Against divisional rivals, they are 29-38 SU and have played poorly as the underdog with a 7-17 record. Playing against NL Central foes really brings the worst out of the Pittsburgh pitchers. They allow 4.3 runs per game against teams within their division, which is higher than their season average of 3.7. They also have some of the most overpowering arms in the NL with an average of 8.2 strikeouts per game.
The Cubs have mostly come out on top against the Pirates in their previous 16 games this season, earning a 10-6 record. This game will feature Cole (RHP) on the mound against the Cubs, who have a 71-50 record when they take on a right-handed starter. The left-handed Lester will take the mound against the Pirates, who have a 17-14 record against lefty starters this season.
Predictions: SU Winner - ChC
The Cubs hold a 39-28 record this season against teams in the NL Central Division. The Pirates' record in these matchups is 29-38.
Pittsburgh recorded at least two errors for the 35th time this season.
Having scored one run in their last game, the Cubs are going to have to up their game if they want to win this matchup. The Pirates have a 23-1 record in games where opponents scored that many runs or fewer.
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 eighth 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 9.15.
Ranking 17th, Chicago is in the bottom half of the league for its on-base plus slugging percentage (.725). Pittsburgh ranks in the top half at 15th with an OPS of .727.
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.