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National League Central Battle: Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs

The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs will resume their four game series on Saturday afternoon at PNC Park. The Cubs have won the first two games of this series on a pair of solo homers, winning each game 1-0. The Pirates hit into a MLB record seven double plays in their loss on Friday night.

The Chicago Cubs have opened up their biggest lead in the National League Central Division. The Cubs lead the Milwaukee Brewers by 4.5 games and the St. Louis Cardinals by 5 games. The Pirates fell to a game below .500 with Friday’s loss, and their playoff hopes are realistically over. Pittsburgh is +105 in Saturday’s game against the Cubs.

Chatwood Starts For Cubs

With Mike Montgomery heading to the 10-day disabled list, Tyler Chatwood will make the start for the Cubs on Saturday. Chatwood will return to the rotation after being shipped to the bullpen when the Cubs acquired Cole Hamels. The right hander has struggled with command all season long, and has walked 90 batters in just 99 innings this season. The Cubs hope that Chatwood can limit the damage against the Pirates on Saturday.

The Cubs have won the last two games, but their offense continues to scuffle. Ian Happ and Kyle Schwarber have provided the only offense for the Cubs this series, but Chicago will need to score more runs on Saturday. Look for Anthony Rizzo and Javier Baez to break out of their mini slumps and have a solid game in this one.

Pittsburgh Offense Is MIA

The Pirates were the hottest team in July, but August has been rough on the Pittsburgh team. The lack of offense has been the biggest reason for their recent slide, and they haven’t scored a run against the Cubs this series. Gregory Polanco and Corey Dickerson have been the offensive stars for the Pirates in 2018. Polanco leads the team with 19 homers and 67 runs batted in, while Dickerson is hitting .302 on the season. The left handed batters should fare well against Chatwood.

Right hander Joe Musgrove will make the start for the Pirates on Saturday afternoon. Musgrove has struggled on the mound this season, coming in with a 4-7 record through 13 starts. Musgrove has lost his last three starts for the Pirates, but will look to snap that streak against the Cubs. He beat Chicago with seven one run innings back on May 30.

Chatwood Struggles, Pirates Win

The Chicago Cubs will need to provide plenty of offense in this game in support of Chatwood if they want to win their third straight against the Pirates. Chatwood has had a miserable season for the Cubs, and he hasn’t shown any signs of breaking out of it. Look for the Pirates to be patient and take their walks against him on Saturday.

Pittsburgh will now take on the role of spoiler for the remainder of the 2018 season. They had a ton of baserunners on Friday night, but bounced into seven double plays to ruin any chances of scoring. Look for the Pirates to cash in on some walks on Saturday and break out on offense to earn the victory. Bet the Pittsburgh Pirates +105 over the Cubs.

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