Josh VanMeter turns a double play

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Josh VanMeter, left, turns a double play after getting Chicago Cubs’ Seiya Suzuki (27) at second base to get Cubs’ Willson Contreras at first as Pirates shortstop Kevin Newman, right, watches in the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • The Chicago Cubs are -170 favorites over the Pittsburgh Pirates in a National League afternoon game slated for Saturday, April 23
  • Chicago is 3-13 straight up in the club’s past 16 home games
  • Pittsburgh is 3-17 SU in the club’s last 20 games at Wrigley Field

When the Chicago Cubs are playing host to the Pittsburgh Pirates at Wrigley Field, it’s proven to be an uphill battle for the Bucs. Then again, there aren’t too many ballparks that have provided friendly confines to the Pirates in recent seasons.

Could the tide be turning at Wrigley for Pittsburgh? In their first game there of the 2022 MLB season on Thursday, the Pirates came away 4-3 winners. That ended a four-game losing streak in Chicago. Entering play Friday, Pittsburgh was 3-17 straight up in the club’s last 20 games at Wrigley Field.

Oddsmakers are expecting that downward trend to continue for the Pirates. It’s the Cubs who are -170 favorites in Saturday’s meeting between the two teams.  The Cubbies are just 3-13 SU in their last 16 home games.

Pirates vs Cubs Odds

Team Moneyline Runline Total
Pittsburgh Pirates +150 OFF OFF
Chicago Cubs -170 OFF OFF

Odds as of April 22nd at Caesars Sportsbook.

First pitch for Saturday’s game at Wrigley Field is set for 2:20pm ET. The forecast is calling for clouds, 17 mph wind and a temperature of 74 degrees. Neither the Cubs (+900) or Pirates (+10000) are given much chance of winning the division in the NL Central odds.

Probable Pitchers

In this battle of righthanders, the biggest fight that Kyle Hendricks of the Cubs and Zach Thompson of the Pirates are facing so far this season is with themselves. Thompson is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA , 7.00 xERA and 2.00 WHIP. Hendricks is 0-1 with a 6.08 ERA and 1.95 WHIP.

Cast as the ace of the Chicago staff, Hendricks has struck out 17 batters in 13.1 innings. However, he’s also surrendered nine hits and issued nine walks. He’s made it past the fifth inning just once.

Thompson vs Hendricks

0-1 Record 0-1
9.00 ERA 6.08
7.00 xERA 4.84
2.00 WHIP 1.95
1.60 SO/W Ratio 1.89

Hendricks took the loss in a 6-2 setback April 13 at Pittsburgh. He coughed up six earned runs in 3.2 innings while walking four and allowing seven hits. He’s 7-11 with a 3.99 ERA in 25 career starts against the Pirates.

In two starts, Thompson has allowed eight earned runs in eight innings, walked five and served up 11 hits, including two homers. He started the 6-2 win over the Cubs on April 13. However, Thompson didn’t figure in the decision, lasting only four innings.

He’s 0-1 in three career starts against the Cubs but with a sterling 1.93 ERA. Thompson has struck out 13 in 14 innings and checked Chicago hitters on a .192 batting average. He took the loss in his only previous start at Wrigley Field. But Thompson gave up just one unearned run in four innings on the mound.

Batting Average vs Starting Pitchers

Cubs Batters Batting Average vs Thompson Pirates Batters Batting Average vs Hendricks
Wilson Contreras .500 Anthony Alford .500
Yan Gomes 1.000 Diego Castillo .000
Ian Happ .250 Michael Chavis .000
Michael Hermosillo .000 Ben Gamel .250
Jason Heyward .000 Ke’Bryan Hayes .500
Nico Hoerner .500 Andrew Knapp .000
Nick Madrigal .000 Jake Marisnick .000
Rafael Ortega .200 Kevin Newman .320
Alfonso Rivas .000 Roberto Perez .000
Frank Schwindel .000 Brian Reynolds .238
Seiya Suzuki .500 Yoshi Tsutsugo .286
Jonathan Villar .200 Cole Tucker .167
Patrick Wisdom .250 Josh VanMeter .333
Daniel Vogelbach .500

Cubs catcher Wilson Contreras is batting 2-for-4 (.500) with a solo homer against Thompson. Catcher Yan Gomes is 2-for-2 (1.000). Both rightfielder Seiya Suzuki and shortstop Nico Hoerner are 1-for-2 (.500).

It might be easier to catalogue which Pirates haven’t hit well against Hendricks.  Third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes is 6-for-12 (.500). He’s clouted two homers and driven in four runs. Outfielder Anthony Alford is 3-for-6 (.500) with an RBI. Designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach is 4-for-8 (.500). Shortstop Kevin Newman is batting .320 (8-for-25) with two RBI. Second baseman Josh VanMeter is 2-for-6 (.333).

Leftfielder Ben Gamel, centerfielder Brian Reynolds and first baseman Yoshi Tsutsugo have all homered off of Hendricks.

Pirates vs Cubs Prediction

Hendricks is a different pitcher at Wrigley Field. He’s 42-25 their lifetime, a .627 winning percentage. Five of his six career MLB complete games have come there. He has a 1.08 WHIP at his home ballpark.

Combine that data with Pittsburgh’s perennial Wrigley woes and the afternoon figures to be a battle for the Bucs.

Pick: Chicago Cubs moneyline (-170)

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