Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs
MLB: 08.05 PM EST
September 25, 2018
The Chicago Cubs (91-65; 1st in NL Central) dropped the first game of a vital four-game series 5-1 against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates (79-76; 4th in NL Central) on Monday night, allowing the Milwaukee Brewers to inch a full game closer in a tight NL Central division race by virtue of their win over St. Louis. Chicago has seen their lead dwindle to 1.5 games with just six contests remaining in the 2018 season.
STARTING PITCHERS: Pittsburgh RHP Chris Archer (2-3, 4.86 ERA) vs. Chicago LHP Mike Montgomery (5-5, 3.75 ERA)
The Buccos acquired Chris Archer following a midsummer 10-game winning streak that looked to potentially propel them into the 2018 playoff race. Since trading prized prospect Austin Meadows to Tampa Bay, though, the Pirates have been severely outpaced by the three teams ahead of them in the fiercely competitive NL Central. Archer hasn’t quite been the splash in the Pittsburgh rotation that management was looking for either, pitching to nearly a 5.00 ERA since his acquisition. He’ll be opposed by southpaw Mike Montgomery, who has been forced back into a full-time starters role for Chicago after the season-ending injury to Yu Darvish and ineffectiveness of Tyler Chatwood. Montgomery has been his usual solid self as a starter this year, and has been relatively successful in his career against Pittsburgh, with a 3-0 record and 2.30 ERA in nine appearances.
Undoubtedly the Cubs can feel the pressure of defending the divisional title for the third straight year, but I don’t expect this seasoned group to succumb to the charging Brewers just yet. The Chicago offense has been notably better against right-handed pitching in 2018, and I expect them to break out after being shut down by Jameson Taillon a night ago. I expect more solid work from Montgomery and a fairly comfortable win at Wrigley Field for the home team.
Our Free MLB Pick: Chicago Cubs -1 (-105)