A.J. Burnett (0-1, 2.25 ERA) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (6-6) go up against Jake Arrieta (1-1, 1.98 ERA) and the Chicago Cubs (6-5) in the first of a four-game division series at PNC Park. The game gets underway at 7:05 p.m. ET on Monday, Apr. 20 and will air on CSN-CHI and ROOT-PIT.
Burnett has a 3.25 ERA and a 7-4 record in his career against the Cubs, and is up against a struggling Chicago offense that's hitting just .227 on the year. Pedro Alvarez (.256, 8 Rs, 4 HRs, 7 RBIs) went 1 for 3 yesterday with two runs, one home run, and one RBI. In his pitching opportunities against the Pirates, Arrieta is 3-0 with a 3.13 ERA. He gets a less-than-stellar Pittsburgh offense that's batting just .222. Dexter Fowler (.271, 8 Rs, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 3 SBs) has been hitting the ball well to start the season, going 2 for 5 yesterday with one run.
Pittsburgh is a -122 favorite in this game and the Over/Under (O/U) is seven runs. When playing as the favorite, the Pirates have a 3-3 record and overall money line at -164. They have an SU record of 4-4 against teams in their division and a 2-1 record when they were the favorite in those games. Pittsburgh has averaged 4.5 runs per game during divisional play, higher than its season average of 3.7. Whenever an NL Central opponent shows up on the calendar, the Pirates seem to struggle with pitching. They allow an average of 3.2 runs per game, but allow 3.5 against teams from their own division. The Pirates are fourth in the league in WHIP at 1.05. The have been extremely effective at striking opposing batters out, averaging 9.1 strikeouts per game.
Moving on to the away team, the Cubs come into this game with a solid win percentage of .667 when playing as the underdog (2-1) and an overall money line of +128. Against fellow NL Central members, they are 3-2 SU. Within their division, Chicago's offense has been struggling. Chicago has averaged 3.2 runs per game, compared to 4.3 for the duration of the season. Chicago is a terror on the base paths, with an MLB-best 13 stolen bases. Chicago's pitching staff tends to perform well when they play division rivals. They've allowed an average of 2.4 runs per game against teams from the NL Central, lower than their season average of 3.8. They also allow just 2.1 walks per game, fourth-best in the NL. The Chicago pitching staff has been an intimidating group this year, averaging 8.7 strikeouts per game.
The Pirates will take on a right-hander (Arrieta) in this game and have a 5-6 record against right-handed starting pitchers this season. Taking the hill against the Cubs will be the right-hander Burnett. They sport a 6-3 record against righties.
Predictions: SU Winner - PIT, O/U - Over
The Pirates hold a 5-4 record this season against teams in the NL Central Division. The Cubs' record in these matchups is 3-2.
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 two walks during their last outing. The Pirates have a 4-5 record when opponents give up that many walks or fewer.
When they outhit their opponents, the Pirates are 6-1. The Cubs have a 2-0 record when outhitting opponents.
Pittsburgh and Chicago both rank in the bottom half of the league in runs. Pittsburgh sits at 17th with 46 runs this season and Chicago ranks 18th with 45.
Ranking 26th, Pittsburgh is near the bottom of the league in walks, notching 24 this season. Chicago ranks in the top 10 at seventh with 43.
When the Pirates hit at least one home run, they are 6-2, well-matched with the Cubs who are 5-1 when hitting one or more homers.