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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates series preview

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The Cubs are going to have to start beating their division rivals.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Cubs took two of three from the Pirates at Wrigley Field in April. That was certainly welcome after their horrid 2-7 season-opening road trip.

In general the Cubs have played all right, but not great, against their N.L. Central rivals. They are 6-3 against the Cardinals, but have negated that with a 3-6 mark against the Reds. They’ve split 3-3 with the Brewers, so including the 2-1 record vs. the Pirates they are overall one game over .500 against the Central teams (14-13). Also, that means there are still 49 games left for the Cubs within the division (of the 78 remaining). Thus games against these rivals will play a huge factor in deciding the division title.

FWIW, here are the other teams’ records within the division:

Brewers 22-13
Cardinals 15-17
Pirates 13-16
Reds 15-20

The Brewers and Cubs begin play Monday with identical 45-39 records. The Brewers, then, are 23-26 in games outside the N.L. Central, while the Cubs are 31-26 outside the division.

Fun fact

The Cubs scored just four runs in a four-game series last August at PNC Park, all the runs coming on solo homers (Ian Happ, Kyle Schwarber, Ben Zobrist, Schwarber again). Nevertheless, the Cubs won two of the four games by winning 1-0. The Cubs had four 1-0 wins in 2018 (and three 1-0 defeats). They have not been in a 1-0 game at all in 2019, either a win or a loss. In fact, there have been only 14 1-0 games in all of MLB so far in 2019. Last year there were 55.

Pitching matchups

Monday: Adbert Alzolay, RHP (1-0, 2.08 ERA, 0.923 WHIP, 6.18 FIP) vs. Trevor Williams, RHP (2-2, 4.25 ERA, 1.188 WHIP, 3.79 FIP)

Tuesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (7-5, 3.36 ERA, 1.143 WHIP, 3.49 FIP) vs. Joe Musgrove, RHP (6-7, 4.27 ERA, 1.246 WHIP, 3.59 FIP)

Wednesday: Yu Darvish, RHP (2-4, 4.98 ERA, 1.362 WHIP, 5.24 FIP) vs. Chris Archer, RHP (3-6, 5.50 ERA, 1.466 WHIP, 5.77 FIP)

Thursday: Jose Quintana, LHP (5-7, 4.21 ERA, 1.372 WHIP, 4.11 FIP) vs. Jordan Lyles, RHP (5-4, 3.71 ERA, 1.223 WHIP, 3.79 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Monday: 6:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, ESPN (outside Cubs and Pirates market territories)

Tuesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Wednesday: 6:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago

Thursday: 3:05 p.m. CT, WGN, ESPN (outside Cubs and Pirates market territories)

Prediction

The Pirates are having a weird season. They’re 17-19 at home, but have the best road record in the N.L. Central at 22-24. That 17-19 mark was worse before they swept the Padres in their last home series.

This is the Cubs’ first visit to PNC Park this year and they still have two series left vs. the Pirates at Wrigley, which means 16 of the Cubs’ final 78 games will be against Pittsburgh, more than against any other team. Since 2015 they are 47-31 against the Pirates, including 23-15 in Pittsburgh. They won two of three against the Bucs at Wrigley in April.

Maybe I’m just trying to will it to happen, but I think the Cubs can take three of four here.

Up next

The Cubs have a rare Friday off day, then take on the White Sox on the South Side in a two-game series beginning Saturday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    4
    (30 votes)
  • 33%
    3
    (64 votes)
  • 32%
    2
    (63 votes)
  • 9%
    1
    (18 votes)
  • 9%
    0
    (18 votes)
193 votes total Vote Now