Cubs vs. Pirates Preview, Saturday 6/21, 6:15 CT

Brian Kersey

The Cubs go for two in a row over the Pirates in their first Fox-TV appearance of 2014.

Tonight's game is one of the "Baseball Night In America" games on your local Fox-TV channel.

Here is the coverage map, which, as usual, I don't understand at all. For example, there are tons of Cubs fans in Arizona -- but they're getting Braves/Nationals. That's the typical New York media attitude -- just assign the markets by "league influence" (thus, parts of Iowa getting an A.L. game), regardless of where fans actually are. It would make sense for Fox to allow each affiliate to request a specific game, within reason, if that local station feels the one the network offers won't deliver ratings in that market. I'd imagine the Phoenix Fox affiliate would much rather have the Cubs game tonight. Fox does this to a limited extent with NFL games. They should do the same with baseball, in my view.

However, if you don't live in one of the areas where this game is carried, you can still watch it via MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV -- the only area where MLB has relented on blackouts.

Cubs lineup:

Coghlan LF, Ruggiano RF, Rizzo 1B, Castro SS, Valbuena 3B, Lake CF, Barney 2B, Whiteside C, Wood P

Hmmm. The team is winning with Luis Valbuena leading off, so let's change it! Also, Travis Wood should hit seventh in this lineup. Or maybe even sixth.

Pirates lineup:

Polanco RF, Harrison 3B, McCutchen CF, Martin C, Tabata LF, Sanchez 1B, Mercer SS, Barmes 2B, Worley P

Today's Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood

Travis Wood


Cubs

vs. Vance Worley

Vance Worley


Pirates

vs. Pit

--

vs. Cubs

See above for specific TV info for this game. One more TV note: Len Kasper will be calling play-by-play tonight. Former MLB pitcher C.J. Nitkowski, who is a studio analyst for Fox, will join Len in the booth.

Travis Wood had a good April and horrific May. He's been much better in June (2.29 ERA, 1.322 WHIP, just one home run allowed in 19⅔ innings). In two starts this year against the Pirates he has allowed six earned runs in 13 innings, about along the lines of most of his career. June 10 in Pittsburgh, Wood threw reasonably well and the Cubs won the game. He even survived giving up a home run to Andrew McCutchen. Remember, Travis: "Don't throw anything good to Andrew McCutchen!"

Vance Worley is the type of pitcher I'd like to see the Cubs go after. After a successful rookie season in 2011 (third in RoY voting), he was somewhat less good in 2012 and eventually had elbow surgery (for "loose bodies," not Tommy John surgery). He was awful last year for the Twins. The Pirates picked him up; he didn't throw that well in Triple-A for them but has made one very good MLB start. At 26, he still has a chance to have a long career. The Cubs tried this with Scott Baker last year, but Baker was older. This offseason, perhaps the Cubs could identify some guys like this and sign one.

Current Cubs are a small-sample-size 5-for-30 (.167) against Worley with one home run (Eli Whiteside, of all people).

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com game preview

SB Nation game preview

Please visit our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

For 2014, we are going to have the same game-thread routine as 2013. Here's how it works.

You'll find the game preview -- like this one -- posting as the first link in the StoryStream™, which will then contain all the overflow threads and the recap. The recap will also be on the front page as a separate post; once I post a game recap, the stream for each game will be retitled "Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads" so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

In general, game previews will post two hours before game time. Exception: for day games after night games, that will usually be 90 minutes.

You will also be able to find the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked "Chicago Cubs Game Threads" at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). They will also appear in this StoryStream™. As I've done for each regular-season game for several years now, we'll have the First Pitch thread at five minutes before game time (moved up from actual game time per your requests), then an overflow one hour, two hours and 2:45 after game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.

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