The Cubs host Pittsburgh after an off day yesterday for both teams’ second game of the 2021 MLB season. The Pirates took the first game 5-3 thanks to six innings of one-run ball from their bullpen, which allowed just one hit in the final three frames.
Let’s take a look at some of our favorite Cubs vs. Pirates player prop bets for this April 3, 2021 MLB matchup from Wrigley Field.
Cubs vs. Pirates Player Props
The Cubs will look to even their record behind the right arm of Jake Arrieta, who returns to the club with which he won the NL Cy Young Award in 2015.
Arrieta, who is coming off of three forgettable injury-plagued seasons in Philadelphia, will be opposed by Tyler Anderson, the 31-year-old lefty who moves over from San Francisco where he helped the Giants win his final four starts last September.
Click here to get 100-1 odds on the Cubs to record at least one hit with DraftKings Sportsbook.
Tyler Anderson Over 4.5 Strikeouts
A quick glance shows that despite his team winning his last four starts of the 2020 season, Anderson struck out four or less in each of those outings, making it seven straight outings with four strikeouts or less. However, he only averaged around 4 ⅔ IP across his final six starts of ‘20, meaning his K/9 IP average was a respectable enough.
Perhaps more importantly, Anderson has had great strikeout success against the Cubs in his career. In three lifetime starts versus Chicago, he has struck out 23 hitters in 20 IP.
Furthermore, current Cubs have struck out 12 times in 45 career at-bats against the lefty. With the Bucs having used six relievers for an inning each on Thursday, one would have to imagine they would like to get a few more innings out of Anderson than the three-inning effort Chad Kuhl delivered on Opening Day. If the lefty can last at least five innings here, he should have ample opportunity to top his strikeout prop number against a Cubs lineup that fanned 13 times in the opener and struck out the 11th-most in the league against left-handed pitching in the shortened 2020 season.
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Gregory Polanco to Homer
Polanco was bumped to the six-hole in the lineup to begin the 2021 campaign. He responded with an 0-for-4, two-strikeout thud on Opening Day. However, this is a favorable value spot for the lefty to grab an early season round-tripper against a righty he knows well in Arrieta.
Polanco has struggled since the 2018 season when he mashed 23 home runs, which, coupled with his lower spot in the lineup, creates the tremendous price we find on this prop today. Bettors should not overlook the fact that Polanco’s AB/HR averages the last two seasons were not far off his best power season during 2018.
Also, Polanco has plenty of experience against Jake Arrieta, accumuluating 40 ABs lifetime against the righty with three homers. In fact, he’s the only current Pirate to have homered off Arrieta.
Most importantly, remember this isn’t the Cy Young-winning Arrieta that Cubs remember so fondly. Instead, this is the guy who had given up 18 home runs by the start of July in ‘19. That was the 11th-most in baseball at that point, as he was allowing 1.6 HR/9 IP. In the unpredictable winds of Wrigley Field, Polanco will get chances to send one over the wall.
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Kris Bryant to Record Hit
Bryant opened his 2021 campaign with an 0-for-3 effort as part of a Cubs lineup that mustered just two hits in their Opening Day loss.
However, Bryant has hit LHP well in his career and should have a great opportunity to get his first hit of the season today.
He hit .286 against lefties in the shortened 2020 season, compared to just .184 against RHP. In 2019, he hit .295 against LHP and .279 against RHP. Against Anderson, Bryant is 3-for-8 lifetime, another positive sign.
Bryant could find himself in favorable hitting positions here, too, as he is likely to again hit behind Rizzo, who is 4-for-9 in his career against Anderson. The Pirates starter struggled away from home last season, allowing 35 hits in 29.0 IP and has given up more hits than he has innings pitched throughout his Major League career.
Bryant’s second consecutive quiet Cactus League performance coupled with his down 2020 season creates good value on the odds here, and we are backing him to find a way to get his first hit(s) of the season this afternoon.
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