At this time on Tuesday, San Diego's Blake Snell was approximately -700 at DraftKings to win the 2023 NL Cy Young Award and the Chicago Cubs' Justin Steele was about +400. Steele had a shot but clearly had to be magnificent down the stretch and Snell had to struggle. However, Snell threw seven no-hit innings Tuesday night vs. Colorado and is now the -1400 favorite with Steele at +800 as he takes the mound Wednesday against visiting Pittsburgh. The Cy Young race is all but over in both leagues (Gerrit Cole will likely win in the AL).
This normally would have been Jameson Taillon's spot in the rotation for Chicago, but the Cubs decided to skip the struggling right-hander and start Steele on what will be normal rest for the lefty. It also sets up Steele to pitch the final day of the regular season if the Cubs need him to clinch a Wild Card spot.
Steele (16-4, 2.73 ERA) realistically lost his Cy Young chances last time out when he was pounded for six runs over six innings in a loss at Arizona. It was the first time Steele allowed more than three earned runs since May and matched the total of amount of runs he had allowed over his previous 33 innings across five starts. He hadn't personally lost since July 16.
Chicago snapped a season-high-tying five-game skid with Tuesday's 14-1 rout of the Pirates to improve to 10-1 in the season series, 29-18 against NL Central opponents and 50-36 in games decided by three or more runs this season. The Cubs have five 10-plus run games against the Pittsburgh this year, the first time the first time they have accomplished the feat since 2019 (also vs. the Bucs). Chicago currently holds down the NL's final wild card spot. It is -110 at DK to both make and miss the playoffs.
Steele is 1-1 with a 3.80 ERA in 23.2 career innings against Pittsburgh. His lone outing against the Pirates this year was Aug. 24 at PNC Park, in which he allowed three earned over six in a no-decision. Steele is set at over/under 5.5 strikeouts, 18.5 outs recorded, 5.5 hits, 0.5 walks and 1.5 earned runs – you don't see 1.5 all that often, but the Over is a -170 favorite. He is +165 to personally win.
The Bucs start their best pitcher in Mitch Keller (12-9, 4.04 ERA). Throw out one horrible start in Atlanta on Sept. 8 (the Braves do that) and Keller has dominated since mid-August. That includes eight shutout innings at home vs. the Cubs on Aug. 25 in a victory, Keller's only outing this year in the series.
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