The Chicago Cubs turn to one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball over the past six weeks as they look to gain ground in the National League wild-card race Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Cubs hand the ball to Jake Arrieta as they continue a four-game series with the Pirates after Pittsburgh maintained its four-game lead over Chicago by splitting a doubleheader Tuesday.
Arrieta aims for his 17th consecutive quality start as he looks to become the Cubs’ first 20-game winner since Jon Lieber in 2001. The right-hander is 5-1 with a 2.05 ERA in seven career starts against the Pirates, including a 3-0 mark and 2.63 ERA in four outings at PNC Park. The Pirates hope to have more success against Arrieta than they did versus Jon Lester, who tossed a five-hitter in a 2-1 Cubs victory in the nightcap of Tuesday’s twinbill. Pittsburgh counters with right-hander A.J. Burnett, who is 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 15 career meetings with the Cubs.
TV: 7:05 p.m. ET, ESPN, CSN Chicago, ROOT (Pittsburgh)
LINE HISTORY: The Pirates opened at +125, moved as low as +133 and are now back to the opening number. The total hasn’t moved from the opening number of 7.0 runs.
Cubs – RP J. Motte (15-day DL, shoulder), RF J. Soler (15-day DL, oblique).
Pirates – N/A.
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night in Pittsburgh for baseball. The forecast calls for clear skies with temperatures in the mid 70’s with little to no wind.
HOT FAN WAR:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Cubs RH Jake Arrieta (19-6, 1.99 ERA) vs. Pirates RH A.J. Burnett (8-5, 3.14)
Arrieta had never won more than 10 games in a season, but he has won eight straight starts since the beginning of August. The 29-year-old has posted a 0.46 ERA over that stretch, compiling 57 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings. Arrieta began his recent stretch of dominance in Pittsburgh, where he threw seven scoreless innings of two-hit ball to beat the Pirates on Aug. 4.
Burnett’s return from the disabled list Thursday against Milwaukee was a mixed bag. The 38-year-old gave up three runs in the first inning but rallied to pitch four scoreless frames thereafter in a no-decision. Burnett has been outstanding in two starts against the Cubs this season, going 1-0 while allowing one run over 13 innings.
* Cubs are 4-1 in Arrieta’s last five starts versus the Pirates.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Arrieta’s last four starts versus the Pirates.
* Pirates are 4-0 in their last four games when following a loss.
* Over is 5-0 in Burnett’s last five starts overall.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public likes the Cubs and red-hot Jake Arrieta in this spot, with 60 percent of the wagers backing Chicago at -137.