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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates Series Preview

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The Pirates have been hot lately. But the Cubs have handled them this year. Something's gotta give.

♬♪♫ "We can dance if we want to..." ♬♪♫
♬♪♫ "We can dance if we want to..." ♬♪♫
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

As cold as the Cubs have been the last couple of weeks, that's how hot the Pirates have been. Pittsburgh has won 10 of their last 13, and since the Cubs swept the Pirates at Wrigley Field last month, the Pirates are 11-6, while the Cubs have gone 5-13.

Ouch. That isn't good.

But, the Cubs have won eight of nine against the Pirates this year and outscored them 58-21. They're 19-9 against the Bucs since the start of 2015 and, including last year's wild-card game, have won the last seven times they've played in PNC Park.

Have I gotten you off the ledge yet?

Late note: The Pirates are promoting top prospect Josh Bell to make his major-league debut tonight. He's a first baseman. At this writing there's no word on what roster move will be made to make room for Bell on the Pirates' 25-man roster.

Fun fact

The Pirates' pitching staff has been pretty bad this year. They have allowed just one less run than the Braves, and rank 11th in the National League in HR allowed, walks allowed, ERA+ and WHIP.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (12-3, 2.33 ERA, 1.062 WHIP, 2.90 FIP) vs. Francisco Liriano, LHP (5-8, 5.34 ERA, 1.643 WHIP, 5.33 FIP)

Saturday: Jon Lester, LHP (9-4, 2.67 ERA, 1.050 WHIP, 3.70 FIP) vs. Chad Kuhl, RHP (1-0, 4.09 ERA, 1.364 WHIP, 4.18 FIP)

Sunday: John Lackey, RHP (7-5, 3.50 ERA, 1.084 WHIP, 3.66 FIP) vs. Jonathon Niese, LHP (7-6, 4.87 ERA, 1.531 WHIP, 5.44 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday: 6:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Pittsburgh markets)

Saturday: 6:15 p.m. CT, Fox-TV (regional). Coverage map

Sunday: 12:35 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

This is where things turn around. The Cubs have favorable pitching matchups all three days, and will win two of three going into the break.

Up next

Seven Cubs head to San Diego for All-Star festivities. The rest of the team gets four days off before the Texas Rangers visit Wrigley Field for a three-game series beginning Friday afternoon, July 15.