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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Saturday 8/17, 12:35 CT

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Maybe this afternoon.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Happy 26th birthday to Cubs catcher Victor Caratini.

Saturday notes:

  • Friday night’s loss was the Cubs’ sixth this season in which they had entered the ninth inning with a lead, the most such losses in the majors this season. (Hint: That’s a lot. Last year they were 82-2 when leading entering the ninth.)
  • Anthony Rizzo homered Thursday off southpaw Drew Smyly. Since his Cubs debut in 2012, Rizzo’s 52 home runs off left-handed pitchers are the most by any N.L. lefthanded hitter in that span, and fourth-most in the majors.
  • Nicholas Castellanos belted five homers in his first 12 games as a Cub. Per STATS, Inc., Castellanos is the seventh player since 1913 to hit at least five homers in his first 12 games as a Cub, and the first since Shane Andrews did it in September 1999.
  • The Cubs are 7-31 in road games decided by two or fewer runs. (Hint: That’s bad.)

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Jon Lester, LHP vs. Steven Brault, LHP

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Lester has been really bad in three August starts. How bad? 10.93 ERA. .364 opponents BA. Shall I go on?

66I didn’t think so.

The good news, hopefully, is that his last start against the Pirates, July 13 at Wrigley Field, was solid: 6⅔ innings, eight hits, three runs, no walks, six strikeouts.

Current Pirates are hitting .281 (47-for-167) against Jon. His opposing pitcher, Steven Brault, is 3-for-3.

Regarding Steven Brault: He began the year in the bullpen, made a couple of starts in May, returned to the pen, then became a fulltime starter May 29. Since then: 2.78 ERA, 1.390 WHIP, just two home runs in 45⅓ innings, which is pretty good. He’s gotten past the fifth inning in just three of those starts, so perhaps being patient will be good for the Cubs this afternoon.

Speaking of afternoon, Brault is considerably worse (5.50 ERA, 34⅓ innings) in day games than in night games (3.22 ERA, 36⅓ innings). So there’s that.

Also, Brault has been a pretty good hitter this year: 9-for-25 with a double and only four strikeouts. He’s been used as a pinch-hitter three times and got a hit all three at-bats.

Today’s game is on ABC7 Chicago. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Pirates market territories). There is in-market streaming of this game inside the Cubs market on the Cubs Facebook page.

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. If you do go there to interact with Pirates fans, please be respectful, abide by their individual site rules and serve as a good representation of Cub fans in general and BCB in particular.

The 2019 Game Thread procedure will be the same as the one used in previous years. Here’s how it works.

You’ll find the game preview posted separately on the front page, two hours before game time (90 minutes for some early day games following night games).

At the same time, a StoryStream containing the preview will also post on the front page. The First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads will be published in that stream, as well as the recap. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post, and at the time I write the recap I will rename the stream “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of Week) Game Threads” so you can go back and find every thread related to that particular game.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread, all the overflow threads and recap 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 the game’s StoryStream as noted above.

The First Pitch thread will post at five minutes before game time, then an overflow thread at one hour, two hours and 2:45 after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.