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Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs Picks, Predictions & Starting Pitchers (May 17)

Adam Spencer

by Adam Spencer in MLB Baseball

Updated May 17, 2024 · 8:16 AM PDT

Paul Skenes delivers a pitch for the Pittsburgh Pirates during his MLB debut on May 11.
May 11, 2024; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Paul Skenes (30) delivers a pitch in his major league debut against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • The Pirates (20-25) are looking to beat the Cubs (25-20) for the second day in a row.
  • Paul Skenes (0-0, 6.75 ERA) and Kyle Hendricks (0-3, 10.04 ERA) feature the fastest and slowest fastballs, respectively, in the majors this season.
  • Check out the picks for the second game of the Pirates vs Cubs series below.

Paul Skenes will take the mound for the second time in his young MLB career as his Pittsburgh Pirates take on the Chicago Cubs in the second game of their four-game series. The Cubs are looking to even the series after losing to the Pirates (5-4) yesterday. Chicago will send Kyle Hendricks to the mound.

The game will be played in Chicago at Wrigley Field with first pitch scheduled for 2:20pm ET.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs Picks

  • Over 7.5 runs
  • Paul Skenes over 6.5 strikeouts

When a game features starting pitchers with a combined ERA of 16.79, don’t overthink it. On May 11, in Skenes’ debut, a total of 19 runs were scored in the game. On May 12, when Hendricks took the hill for the Cubs, 9 runs were scored. It should be a beautiful spring afternoon at Wrigley Field, which should only help hitters produce plenty of runs for this to cover. You can currently get -105 odds on the over at bet365, probably because many bettors are expecting Skenes to immediately be an ace. He’s just not there yet.

But while we’re on the topic of Skenes, he did produce 7 strikeouts in only 4 innings of work in his debut against the Cubbies. I expect him to work a little longer in today’s outing. If he’s able to work 5+ innings, we should see him continue to produce strikeouts at a high rate. You can get Skenes over 6.5 K’s for -115 odds at bet365.

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Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Pittsburgh Pirates -1.5 (+150) -110 O 7.5 (-105)
Chicago Cubs +1.5 (-180) -110 U 7.5 (-115)

Odds via bet365 as of May 17. Use our bet365 bonus code SBDXLM to land $150 in bonus bets when you place any initial $5 wager today.

Dating back to last weekend’s series, the Pirates and Cubs have played 3-straight games decided by 1 run. Thus, it might not make a ton of sense to take Pirates -1.5 at +150. The moneyline odds, via bet365, indicate that these teams are evenly matched, and the recent results back that up. If you have a strong lean as to which team will win, it probably just makes sense to put some money on the moneyline, which is -110 for both squads.

As mentioned above, my favorite play is to take the over at -105. These teams should be able to combine for 8 or more runs this afternoon in favorable conditions.

Pittsburgh Pirates vs Chicago Cubs Starting Pitchers

Paul Skenes VS Kyle Hendricks
0-0 Record 0-3
6.75 ERA 10.04
35.0% SO% 16.7%

This is a matchup between 2 pitchers who are about as different as humanly possible. Skenes is a flame-throwing rookie making his second-career start. Hendricks is a crafty veteran whose fastball tops out right around 90 mph (and that’s when he really puts some oomph into it).

Hendricks has had a rough start to the season, as his 0-3 record and 10.04 ERA indicate. But in his last start, which came against this same Pirates squad on May 12, he looked sharp. In 5 innings of work, he allowed only 1 earned run while striking out a season-high 5 Pittsburgh hitters.

Skenes, on the other hand, threw 4 innings in his debut on May 11 against the Cubs, striking out 7 and

How different are these pitchers when it comes to fastball velocity? This post should illustrate that point for me:

Still not convinced about Skenes’ fastball? How about this stat? He’s already joining historic company with the velocity he’s able to reach as a starter:

Velocity isn’t everything in baseball, of course. If it was, Hendricks would not be pitching in his 11th season in the big leagues. But watching (and listening to) Skenes’ fastball pop into the catcher’s mitt is a thing of beauty. Enjoy it this afternoon at Wrigley in this important early season NL Central clash.

Which style will win out on Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field? We’ll find out starting at 2:20 p.m. ET on the MLB Network.

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