Pittsburgh Pirates (0-0) at Chicago Cubs (0-0)
MLB Baseball: Thursday, April 1, 2021 at 2:20 pm (Wrigley Field)
Chad Kuhl (0-0) (0.00) vs. Kyle Hendricks (0-0) (0.00)
The Line: Chicago Cubs -225 / Pittsburgh Pirates +204 --- Over/Under: Click to Get Latest Betting Odds
The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs meet Thursday in Opening Day MLB action from Wrigley Field.
The Pirates are coming off a disappointing season in 2020, finishing 19-41 overall. That mark left Pittsburgh in last place in the National League Central. As for the Cubs, they went 34-26 last year. Chicago won the NL Central division, but the team was swept by the Marlins in the Wild Card Series. Check back all season long for free MLB picks at Sports Chat Place.
Pittsburgh is coming off an ugly campaign in the shortened season of 2020, finishing with an MLB-worst 19-41 record and the franchise’s worst winning percentage since 1952 (.317). The Pirates didn’t play horribly against division opponents, but were crushed by American League teams with a 3-17 mark.
For the Opening Day start, Pittsburgh will trot out Chad Kuhl. In 2020, Kuhl posted a 4.27 ERA with a 2-3 record across 46.1 innings total. This will be his first career Opening Day start. Kuhl will look to play his first full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2018.
Over on the Cubs’ side, they had a solid regular season in 2020, clinching the National League Central Division title for the first time since 2017. Things fell apart for Chicago in the Wild Card Series however, as they fell in consecutive games to the Marlins (scoring just one run in the process) and exited the playoffs early.
Chicago will be rolling with Kyle Hendricks in the Opening Day starter slot. Last season, Hendricks managed a 6-5 record over 12 starts, maintaining a 2.88 ERA with 26 earned runs in 81.1 innings. Hendricks went 6.1 innings with five hits and three earned in his lone playoffs start.
The Pirates are 5-0 ATS in their last five Thursday games and 19-43 ATS in their last 62 overall. Pittsburgh is 2-5 ATS in their last seven after an off day and 19-48 ATS in their last 67 road games.
Meanwhile, the Cubs are 22-7 ATS in their last 29 during game one of a series and 60-28 ATS in their last 89 Thursday games. Chicago is 2-6 ATS in their last eight overall and 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
PICK: I’m going to lean toward the Cubs here, provided the offense can supply a few runs. (That line is pretty thick, though.) Over Hendricks’ last three starts, Chicago has scored just three runs with a 1-2 record in that span. (The lone victory was a 1-0 shutout versus Minnesota). Hendricks should be able to post a solid five or six innings in this opener, and a two- or three-run cushion on the scoreboard when he exits would go a long way toward a Cubs victory.