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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates series preview

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Much has changed in the N.L. Central race since the last time these teams met.

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

When these teams last faced each other, just before the All-Star break at Wrigley Field, the Cubs were at a low ebb. The Pirates took two of three and dropped the Cubs to two games under .500 and 5½ games out of first place. The Bucs were seven games out, but won five of six going into the break.

Since then the Cubs are 26-15 and the Pirates 21-21.

So, I asked Eli Nellis, manager of our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout, to give us an update on his team.

It's a bit awkward watching the Pirates play out the string.

They didn't make any major additions or subtractions at the trade deadline. They just sort of looked at Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson and let other teams snap them up in waiver trades. That's understandable; this team just isn't that good right now. They're seven games back in the N.L. Central, a number they haven't been able to eat away at too much so far, and there's little reason to think they will do so from here.

There also isn't much incentive to tear things down, at least not yet.

When I think of late-season baseball for a team unlikely to make the playoffs, I think of newcomers -- trade hauls and home-grown prospects filling the spots of guys sent away. But that isn't the case here; this roster is quite similar to the one that left Florida in the spring. The baseball isn't quite meaningless -- the players are still playing with purpose -- but, barring the extremely bizarre, there isn't a ton to watch for regarding the present or the future.

The Pirates are playing because the schedule says so, and so that folks like me can continue to stave off silly things like football and responsibility and the darkness of the offseason.

Fun fact

The teams have traded 14-3 blowouts this year; the Cubs won by that score in Pittsburgh, and the Pirates by that score at Wrigley. And despite trailing the season series five wins to seven, the Cubs have outscored the Pirates 60-56 in the 12 games.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Mike Montgomery, LHP (4-6, 3.43 ERA, 1.270 WHIP, 4.11 FIP) vs. Trevor Williams, RHP (5-6, 4.40 ERA, 1.321 WHIP, 4.09 FIP)

Tuesday: Jake Arrieta, RHP (13-8, 3.49 ERA, 1.204 WHIP, 3.87 FIP) vs. Chad Kuhl, RHP (6-9, 4.52 ERA, 1.454 WHIP, 3.99 FIP)

Wednesday: Jose Quintana, LHP (8-11, 4.49 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 4.03 FIP) vs. Ivan Nova, RHP (11-11, 3.97 ERA, 1.249 WHIP, 4.39 FIP)

  • Jose Quintana’s numbers above include his 18 starts with the White Sox. With the Cubs: eight starts, 4-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.261 WHIP, 4.11 FIP

Times & TV channels

Monday: 7:05 p.m. CT, WGN

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago Plus

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, CSN Chicago

Prediction

The Cubs have won at least two games in four of their last five series. I don’t see any reason that will change here, not with these pitching matchups and the fact that the Pirates are 28-37 on the road. Two of three.

Up next

The Atlanta Braves come to Wrigley Field for a four-game series beginning Thursday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    3
    (59 votes)
  • 52%
    2
    (117 votes)
  • 13%
    1
    (30 votes)
  • 7%
    0
    (16 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now