- Long eliminated from postseason contention, the Cubs and Pirates wrap up their regular-season meetings on Thursday
- Chicago is 13-5 overall against Pittsburgh this season, but is in a slump, having lost 11 of its last 13 games
- Read on for a preview, full odds and a best bet for this Thursday evening contest
The Chicago Cubs (68-90, 29-48 away) visit the Pittsburgh Pirates (59-99, 35-42 home) on Thursday, September 29th, in their 19th and final head-to-head meeting of 2021. After splitting the opening pair of contests in this three-game series, first pitch for the finale is set for 6:35 pm ET.
While both teams were eliminated from postseason contention long ago, Chicago is currently 27 games out of first place in the NL Central following Wednesday night’s 3-2 win, with Pittsburgh a further nine games back in the division’s basement.
Cubs vs Pirates Odds
|Chicago Cubs||-125||-1.5 (+135)||Over 8 (-120)|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||+105||+1.5 (-155)||Under 8 (+100)|
Odds as of September 29th at DraftKings.
With little on the line other than pride, the Cubs are turning to Justin Steele to make his 20th appearance of the season on Thursday. The left-hander will be looking to quickly leave behind the memory of his last start, against St. Louis on Sept. 24. In that game, Steele gave up a career-high six runs on seven hits, leaving him 1-4 with 5.89 ERA in eight starts this season.
Justin Steele, Wicked Sliders. 🤢 pic.twitter.com/YzXfhoo9L1
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 20, 2021
Looking on the bright side, however, he has a virtually unblemished record against the Pirates, having given up zero hits in two scoreless innings when he pitched against them back in May.
Steele vs TBD Stats
However, while he has done okay against last-place Pittsburgh, Steele has not fared so well against the rest of the NL Central over the course of his rookie season. The 26-year-old is now 0-3 with a 5.64 ERA in five starts and 30.1 innings against the Cardinals, Brewers and Reds.
Batting Average vs Starting Pitchers
|Pirates Batters||Batting Average vs Justin Steele|
Cubs In Control
It’s hard to believe that Chicago holds a 13-5 edge in the head-to-head series this season when you look at the runs for and against. The Cubs have scored 82 runs and given up 77, so the games have been close.
However, much of that dominance has come at Wrigley Field this season, where the Cubs are 8-2 against Pittsburgh, including a four-game sweep in their last series back at the start of September. Things have been much closer at PNC Park, where Chicago now holds a slim 5-3 edge after Wednesday night’s 3-2 win.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 30, 2021
Chicago has held the season edge in recent years as well, going 6-4 in last year’s pandemic-shortened season, as well as besting the Pirates 11-8 in 2019 and 10-9 in both 2018 and 2017.
Cubs Sliding Home
Since trading many of their stars at the trade deadline back in July, including Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, Chicago’s season has plunged into a tailspin. The Cubs had lost season straight before winning Wednesday, and that losing run stretched to losing 21 of their last 36 since Aug. 17, which marked the end of a season-high 12-game losing streak.
Cubs are 17-35 since the trade deadline. #FlyTheL
— Jason Shetler (@Jason_Shetler) September 29, 2021
On the flip side, the last-place Pirates have gone 11-10 in their past 21 games.
Cubs vs Pirates Prediction
With no announced pitcher at the time of going to publication, it is tough to get a read on the Pirates for this game, but Steele has performed with credit in his rookie season and should be able to produce another seasoned outing here.
Best bet: Cubs -1.5 (+135)