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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates series preview

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Last time the Cubs played in PNC Park, it went pretty well.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs got swept by the Pirates at Wrigley Field in April, but took two of three in Pittsburgh later that month.

Eli Nellis of our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout updates us on his team.

In a pretty trying year, the number one reason for optimism regarding the Pirates is the Cubs.

While locals are eager to bury the Buccos, the Cubs haven’t cooperated. In a stagnant division race such as this one, opportunities are going to arise for teams to make moves, and this weekend is just that for the Pirates.

They took two of three from the mighty Rockies this week, won a season high four straight through Tuesday, Jameson Taillon is back after a testicular cancer scare, and Andrew McCutchen might, just might, have a little magic back.

McCutchen sat out a couple games in Atlanta last month and, upon his return, was dropped to the No. 6 spot in the batting order. He hit two homers on Tuesday, and is slashing .388/.468/.701 with five homers in the sixth spot.

Taillon was one of the more reliable starting pitchers on the team when he went down; he came back with a strong start against a good Colorado lineup. The recently struggling Gerrit Cole had a good game against the Rockies, too. While it’s not great to see Tyler Glasnow go down to Triple-A, the team won’t be subject to his roller-coaster ways every five days, which might help if the Pirates are to somehow get into this division race.

The bullpen looks to have gotten to a nice resolution, too, with Tony Watson removed from the closer role and Felipe Rivero filling a more flexible late-inning role and Juan Nicasio also getting some closing opportunities – much better than locking Rivero, by far their best reliever, into a ninth-inning-only role or leaving Watson out to suffer.

Fun fact

The Cubs are 15-8 in PNC Park since the beginning of 2015 (including the win in the 2015 wild-card game).

Pitching matchups

Friday: Eddie Butler, RHP (3-2, 4.03 ERA, 1.379 WHIP, 4.11 FIP) vs. Trevor Williams, RHP (3-3, 5.13 ERA, 1.331 WHIP, 4.80 FIP)

Saturday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (6-4, 4.68 ERA, 1.329 WHIP, 4.02 FIP) vs. Ivan Nova, RHP (6-4, 2.83 ERA, 1.011 WHIP, 3.51 FIP)

Sunday: John Lackey, RHP (4-7, 5.26 ERA, 1.381 WHIP, 5.53 FIP) vs. Jameson Taillon, RHP (3-1, 2.90 ERA, 1.339 WHIP, 3.91 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday: 6:05 p.m. CT, WGN

Saturday: 7:15 p.m. CT, Fox-TV (regional -- coverage map)

Sunday: 12:35 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago, MLB Network (outside Chicago and Pittsburgh markets)

Prediction

As noted above, the Cubs have done exceptionally well in PNC Park since the beginning of 2015. So, I’ll say they’ll take two of three here.

Up next

The Cubs host the San Diego Padres in a three-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    3
    (32 votes)
  • 36%
    2
    (55 votes)
  • 30%
    1
    (47 votes)
  • 11%
    0
    (18 votes)
152 votes total Vote Now