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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates series preview

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The Cubs return to Wrigley Field for their final homestand of 2019.

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

The Cubs did pretty well against the Pirates the last time the teams met, and they’re 5-1 against them in Wrigley Field this year.

For more on the Pirates, here’s Tom Bellucco of our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

Since the last time the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs squared off in Williamsport, PA, the Bucs have played some pretty solid baseball, going 14-10 including sweeps of the Cincinnati Reds and the Colorado Rockies (four games). Even still, Pittsburgh finds themselves 17 games below .500 due to a dismal start to the second half of the season, which the Cubs had the pleasure of starting, by the way.

There are still a few things going right for the Pirates these days, and you have to start with the back-end of their bullpen as a strength. Felipe Vazquez, Keone Kela, Michael Feliz, and at times Richard Rodriguez have all been great when healthy. Vazquez has a crazy low 0.54 WHIP and 30 strikeouts in 21⅔ innings. His two earned runs allowed in the second half of the season have both been solo shots. Kela has also been lights out since returning from injury on July 24. He himself has a 0.64 WHIP with one earned run allowed in his 14 innings while striking out 20 batters. If things don’t shuffle up too much during the offseason, a formidable bullpen should be a strength and foundation for this Pirates team in 2020. The starting pitchers continue to be where the Pirates need to improve, as injuries and inconsistency have haunted them since things took a turn in May.

On offense Starling Marte had been having a remarkably good second half, but you won’t see much of him the rest of this year due to a wrist injury. Rookie Bryan Reynolds continues to hit from both sides of the plate, as his .325 batting average and 16 homers on the year are more than any Pirates fan could’ve asked for when he was called up on April 20. Josh Bell sits at 37 home runs for the year, and he’s been great the last 15 games with five of those homers, a .309 average, and 12 walk to 9 strikeout ratio. Rookie shortstop Kevin Newman also deserves a mention, as he’s hit .295 in the second half himself racking up four homers, six doubles, and nine stolen bases. He’s been a rock solid bat and an above average glove for the Pirates all year.

Pittsburgh only has pride to play for a this point, but it has still made for some exciting late-inning entertainment of late. Even being out of the playoff race, I imagine the boys in black and gold would love nothing more than to steal a series in Wrigley.

Fun fact

Since the Cubs returned to contention in 2015, they are 27-16 against the Pirates at Wrigley Field and overall, have won six of the last seven games between the two teams.

Pitching matchups

Friday: Jon Lester, LHP (12-10, 4.51 ERA, 1.465 WHIP, 4.34 FIP) vs. Steven Brault, LHP (4-4, 4.13 ERA, 1.405 WHIP, 4.37 FIP)

Saturday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (10-9, 3.33 ERA, 1.115 WHIP, 3.77 FIP) vs. James Marvel, RHP (0-1, 3.60 ERA, 1.200 WHIP, 3.61 FIP)

Sunday: Jose Quintana, RHP (13-8, 4.15 ERA, 1.304 WHIP, 3.87 FIP) vs. Trevor Williams, RHP (7-6, 5.21 ERA, 1.409 WHIP, 4.72 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Friday: 3:05 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Pirates market territories)

Saturday: 1:20 p.m. CT, NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (outside Cubs and Pirates market territories)

Sunday: 1:20 p.m. CT, WGN

Prediction

If the Cubs don’t take at least two of three here, they’re in deep trouble. So I’ll say two of three and be hoping for a repeat of the July sweep.

Up next

The Cubs host the Cincinnati Reds in a three-game series which begins Monday evening.

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    3
    (87 votes)
  • 24%
    2
    (38 votes)
  • 15%
    1
    (25 votes)
  • 5%
    0
    (8 votes)
158 votes total Vote Now