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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Tuesday 5/25, 5:35 CT

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The Cubs open a three-game set at PNC Park.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s roster move: Here

Tuesday notes:

  • SCORING RUNS AND NOT ALLOWING THEM: The Cubs enter tonight with a plus-16 run differential this season (213-197), tied for the fourth-best differential in the N.L. with the Marlins and behind the Padres (+73), Dodgers (+72) and Giants (+47).
  • THAT HOME/ROAD SPLIT: While the Cubs have won 17 of their last 20 games at Wrigley Field against the Pirates since September 26, 2018, they are just 6-13 in 19 games at PNC Park in that span (and 1-0 at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pa.)
  • WHAT A RELIEF: The Cubs bullpen has not allowed an earned run in 13 of the last 14 games since May 8, posting a 0.87 ERA (five earned runs in 51⅔ IP), walking 21, striking out 66, holding the opponent to a .145 average (26-for-179) and a .407 OPS.
  • HEY, THEY REALLY CAN HIT: Dating to April 17, Cubs hitters lead the majors with a .776 OPS. The team leads the N.L. and is second in the majors with 5.42 runs per game in 33 contests (179 runs scored) and a .340 on-base percentage

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

Pirates lineup:

Jake Arrieta, RHP vs. Cody Ponce, RHP

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY NETWORK

Jake Arrieta has already made two starts against the Pirates this year and both were good. Overall vs. Pittsburgh in 2021: 12 innings, three earned runs (2.25 ERA), 1.416 WHIP, nine strikeouts, no home runs allowed. The Cubs won both games.

Since Jake returned from a stint on the IL due to a finger abrasion, he’s made two starts, neither of which we’ll probably want to remember. He’s on five days’ rest due to Monday’s off day; hopefully that will help him get back on track.

Cody Ponce made his MLB debut against the Cubs in the 11th inning August 2, 2020. The inning started with a placed runner, David Bote, who advanced to third on a fly to right by Anthony Rizzo. Then this happened [VIDEO].

Ponce made four other appearances for the Pirates last year (three starts) and overall posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.059 WHIP, decent enough numbers in a small sample size. This year at Triple-A Indianapolis he’s made three appearances (two starts) with a 5.40 ERA and 1.543 WHIP. He’s 27 and was a second-round pick of the Brewers in 2015, traded to the Pirates in 2019 for Jordan Lyles. Per Fangraphs he has a traditional fastball/curve/slider combination, with the FB averaging about 93 miles per hour.

All of this, to me, raises this question: With the Pirates having trouble with their starters in general this year (they have a 5.46 ERA, second-worst in MLB to the Angels), if this guy was any good, he’d probably have been in the major leagues before now. Or so you’d think, anyway.

Today’s game is on Marquee Sports Network. Here’s a list of providers currently carrying Marquee.

Here is the complete MLB.com Mediacenter for today.

MLB.com Gameday

Baseball-reference.com 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 2021 Game Thread procedure will be a bit different than previous years. It will be similar to what we’ve used for Spring Training.

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 post related to that particular game, including the First Pitch Thread and the overflow thread, 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 the overflow thread 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 90 minutes after the scheduled game time.

Discuss amongst yourselves.