Chicago Cubs (82-60) at Pittsburgh (86-56)
When: Tuesday, September 15th, 2015
Where: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA
Time: 7:05 ET
TV: WGN Radio: XM 184
The Cubs and Pirates meet in Pittsburgh tonight in what could be a preview of the 1-game National League Wild Card game. The Pirates are red-hot and have all of the sudden have ideas of avoiding that Wild Card game and winning the division. With the Cardinals losing 7 of 10, the Pirates have won 7 of 10 and find themselves only 2.5 games behind St. Louis in the National League Central. They just took 3 of 4 against the Brewers and scored 27 runs. In fact, they’ve scored 5 or more runs in 7 of their last 10 games. They might have the best all around team in Baseball. Statistically the rank near the top in both offense and pitching. They now own the 2nd best record in the majors and might have to play in the Wild Card game. J.A. Happ starts tonight and this guy has had a sudden resurgence in his career. He hasn’t had an ERA lower than 4.00 since 2010, but in his 7 starts with Pittsburgh, he’s 5-1 with a 1.79 ERA. I really don’t even know how to explain that. He’s never been a big strikeout pitcher, but he has 42 in 40 innings with the Pirates. His worst outing came in his first with Pittsburgh, and that was against the Cubs on August 4th, a 5-0 loss.
The Cubs had won 7 of 8 until this weekend when they dropped the final 2 in Philadelphia. Still, they’re only 6.5 behind St. Louis and 4 behind Pittsburgh. It appears they will be playing in the Wild Card game, unless they can come up with a sweep this week, then things get interesting. If they take 3 of 4, they can still gain 2 games on the Pirates. This will end their 11-game road trip before they return home Friday to take on the Cardinals. Needless to say, this is a huge week for the Cubbies. Jon Lester will be on the mound tonight and he’s been a little up and down all year. He’s had 2 good starts recently, but was hit hard at Los Angeles on August 29th. He’s only faced Pittsburgh once this year and he only allowed 1 run in 7 innings on May 16th. One thing going against him tonight is that his night record is 3-7 with an ERA of 4.32 and has allowed 10 road home runs.
Technically this is the second game of the series with the first being played earlier today. Still, this won’t affect our prediction for this game. I would like to say that Happ is due to get hit, and eventually he will, but until he does, I have to stick with him and the red-hot Pirates.
Pick: Pirates -105