pirates cubs mlb picksIn the last of a four-game series between the Pittsburgh Pirates (7-8) and the Chicago Cubs (7-8) at PNC Park, Jeff Locke (2-0, 1.93 ERA) and Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 6.10 ERA) take the mound. The Pirates won the last game 4-3 and Chicago leads the series 2-1. The game starts at 12:35 p.m. ET on Thursday, Apr. 23 and will air on CSN-CHI and ROOT-PIT.

Locke is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA and 1.27 WHIP against the Cubs in his career. Starling Marte (.224, 10 Rs, 5 HRs, 12 RBIs, 2 SBs) went 1 for 1 yesterday with one run. The Cubs were unsuccessful the last time Hendricks pitched. He had a good outing, pitching, going 6.0 innings, giving up two runs and striking out eight in a 7-6 loss to the Padres. Anthony Rizzo (.319, 11 Rs, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 3 SBs) has been hitting the ball well to start the season for the Cubs, going 2 for 4 yesterday with one run.

Pittsburgh is a -121 favorite in this game and the Over/Under (O/U) is set at eight runs. The Pirates are 4-5 as the favorite and have an overall money line of -321. They have an SU record of 5-6 against teams in their division and a 3-3 record when they were the favorite in those games. The Pirates seem to play better against their division opponents, averaging 4.6 runs per game, well over their season average of 4.0. Turning to the pitching staff, an area where the Pirates are particularly strong is striking batters out, where they average 9.0 K's per game.

On the other side, the Cubs have a nice record of 4-1 when they are the underdog and are +246 overall with the money line. Over the last 10 games, they were unbeaten as the underdog with a perfect 4-0 record and 7-3 SU. The Cubs have racked up 16 steals on the year, making them one of the most threatening base-running teams in the league. Chicago's pitching staff tends to perform well when they play division rivals. They've allowed an average of 3.1 runs per game against teams from the NL Central, lower than their season average of 4.1. They also allow just 2.1 walks per game, second-best in the NL. They also have some of the most overpowering arms in the NL with an average of 8.5 strikeouts per game.

The Cubs are 2-1 against the Pirates this season. The Pirates will take on a right-hander (Hendricks) in this game and have a 6-7 record against right-handed starting pitchers this season.

Predictions: SU Winner - CHC, O/U - Over


The Cubs have a 5-3 record against teams in their division, while the Pirates are even against their rivals at 6-6.

Chicago recorded at least two errors for the second time this season.

The Cubs are 3-0 in games that go into extra innings. Meanwhile, the Pirates are 0-1 in such matchups.

The Cubs are coming into this game after allowing zero walks during their last outing. The Pirates have a 3-3 record when opponents give up that many walks.

When they outhit their opponents, the Cubs are 4-1. The Pirates have a 6-1 record when outhitting opponents.

Both falling in the top half of the league based on total runs this season, Pittsburgh ranks 14th with 60 runs and Chicago is 11th with 62.

Ranking 29th, Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the league in walks, notching 28 this season. Chicago ranks in the top five at fifth with 53.

When the Pirates hit at least one home run, they are 7-4. When the Cubs hit at least one homer, they have a 6-1 record.