Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Pick-Odds-Prediction - 3/31/14
Chicago Cubs (0-0) at Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0)
MLB Baseball: Monday, March 31, 2014 at 1:05 pm (PNC Park)
Jeff Samardzija (R) (0-0) (0.00) vs. Francisco Liriano (L) (0-0) (0.00)
The Line: Pittsburgh Pirates -159 / Chicago Cubs +140 --- Over/Under: 7 See the Latest Odds
TV: WGN, ROOT-Pit
National League Central rivals the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs face off at PNC Park in the 2014 opener.
If you have followed the Cubs over the years you know why they are called the lovable losers although I'm not sure the organization or the fans are in love with the losing. The question is whether Chicago has done enough to turn things around in the off season. I don't see any earth shattering addition or subtractions with Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta hopefully giving the rotation innings while ace Jeff Samardzija and All Star Travis Wood needing big seasons on the mound. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo anchore the offense but this unit was 28th in the majors a season ago and has to improve dramatically. Samardzija gets the start on opening day after going 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA in 2013.
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh endured years (decades) of losing so a postseason appearance in 2013 was bigger then big. The question is will the Pirates make a repeat appearance in the playoffs and go further or regress. I can't answer that with ace AJ Burnett gone meaning Francisco Liriano, Wandy Rodriguez and Gerrit Cole need solid seasons. The offense wasn't in bad shape at number nine in the league with 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alverez (36 HR) the most recognizeable names. However if the Buccos can give the lead to the pen they will be in good shape because the BP was nearly flawless in 2013. Liriano gets the ball on opening day after a 16-8 campaign with 3.02 ERA a year ago.
I can only go on what I saw from each team in 2013 and that being the case I will go with Pittsburgh as I don't think the changes either team made have an effect here...