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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Wednesday 9/23, 6:05 CT

The Cubs look to get back on the winning track.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday notes:

  • WELCOME TO OCTOBER: This is the first time in Cubs franchise history the team will have advanced to post-season play five times in a six-season span. Prior to this six-season run that started in 2015, the club had made the postseason just six times in 69 seasons from 1946-2014.
  • AN EXCLUSIVE GROUP: Including 2020, the Cubs are one of three teams to advance to the postseason at least five times since 2015. The others: Dodgers (six times) and Yankees (five).
  • THE PROFESSOR: Kyle Hendricks has a 1.21 ERA (four earned runs in 29⅔ innings) in four starts this month, striking out 27 batters and walking three while opponents have batted .212 (22-for-104) with a .529 OPS. More on Hendricks below.
  • RELEASE THE KRAKEN: In his last 12 appearances since August 14, Craig Kimbrel has a 1.59 ERA (two earned runs in 11⅓ innings), holding opponents to a .108 average (4-for-37), a .267 OBP, a .108 slugging mark and a .375 OPS. In that span he has struck out 24 of the 45 batters he has faced.
  • PLOINK: The Cubs have been hit by 47 pitches this season, the most in the majors (Mets are second, 45), an average of 0.85 HBP/game. In 2016, the Cubs set a franchise record with 96 HBP, which equates to only 0.59 HBP/game.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Kyle Hendricks, RHP vs. Trevor Williams, RHP

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Remember, Kyle Hendricks’ road woes are exacerbated by bad outings in Cincinnati. This year, in four road starts in places NOT named “Great American Ballpark,” Kyle has a 3.16 ERA and 1.208 WHIP in 25⅔ innings. Lifetime in 10 starts (54 innings) at PNC Park, Kyle has a 3.17 ERA and 1.111 WHIP. That includes a very good outing September 2, in which he allowed six hits and one run in six innings, with six strikeouts.

Kyle’s going to have a good outing tonight. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Just two years ago, Trevor Williams looked like was on the cusp of being a really good major league pitcher. His breakout season in 2018 produced 4.0 bWAR, a 3.11 ERA and 1.178 WHIP.

Last year was a lot worse and this year has just been horrific for him. He enters this game with a 6.70 ERA and leads the major leagues with 14 home runs allowed. He threw 4⅔ innings against the Cubs July 31 at Wrigley Field and allowed four hits, three walks and three runs and that is one of his better starts of 2020.

Williams’ last five starts: 25⅓ innings, 9.59 ERA, 1.895 WHIP, 11 (!) home runs.

Seriously, the Cubs ought to just pound him.

Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee. It’s also on MLB Network (outside the Cubs and Pirates market territories).

Here is the complete Mediacenter for today. Gameday 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 2020 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, titled “Cubs vs. (Team) (Day of week/date) game threads.” It will contain every thread related to that particular game, including the First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads, as well as the recap when it’s published. The recap will also live on the front page as a separate post.

You will also be able to find the preview, First Pitch Thread and all the overflow threads in the box marked “Chicago Cubs Game Threads” at the bottom of the front page (you can also find them in this section link). The StoryStream for each game can also be found in that section.

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.