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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Tuesday 9/28, 5:35 CT

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The Cubs open their final road trip of 2021 in Pittsburgh.

Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

A couple of Cubs won’t play again in 2021:

Jason Heyward was already on the injured list. Keegan Thompson isn’t, I suppose the Cubs could put him on the 60-day and add one more player for the rest of the week. We’ll see what happens.

Tuesday notes...

  • BEATING THE BUCS: The Cubs enter tonight having won their last seven games against the Pirates. That’s their longest winning streak against Pittsburgh since another seven-game streak from July 1 - September 29, 2009. The Cubs’ last longer winning streak against the Pirates was a 10-game run from September 21, 2007 - May 16, 2008.
  • FRANK THE TANK UPDATE: Frank Schwindel has 69 hits in his first 50 games with the Cubs, the second-most in a player’s first 50 games with Chicago since 1906, surpassed only by Al Dark’s 73 hits in 1958. Since coming to the Cubs July 30, Schwindel ranks among the major league leaders in hits (tie for second, 69), batting average (third, .352), slugging percentage (fourth, .643), OPS (fifth, 1.041) and extra-base hits (tie for sixth, 30).
  • REMINDER NO. 1: The Cubs have had 21 different players hit at least one home run this season. That’s just one short of the franchise mark in which 22 players homered for the Cubs in 1996, 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2013. No Cubs pitcher has homered this year, and two position players on the active roster (Nico Hoerner and Nick Martini) have yet to homer.
  • REMINDER NO. 2: The Cubs have had 12 different pitchers record a save for the club this season, a single-season franchise record. That broke the previous record of nine Cubs with at least one save, set in 1970 and tied in 2019. The MLB mark for most pitchers with a save in a single season is held by the Rays, who have had 14 pitchers with at least one save this year. Two Cubs relievers on the active roster, Scott Effross and Trevor Megill, have not yet had a save in 2021.

Here are today’s particulars.

Cubs lineup:

The Pirates lineup was not available at posting time. Please check the BCB Twitter feed for the Pirates lineup.

Alec Mills, RHP vs. Mitch Keller, RHP

USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY NETWORK

Alec Mills has made just enough good starts to make you think he’s a solid MLB No. 5, and then he goes out and has a stinker like he did in his last outing against the Twins.

A 4.48 ERA and 1.351 WHIP in 18 starts covering 90⅓ innings isn’t horrible, though. If he’s the Cubs’ No. 5 starter in 2022, that wouldn’t be bad.

Because the Cubs played most of their games vs. the Pirates early this year, Mills has just two appearances against them in 2021, both in relief, 3⅓ scoreless innings, which probably means little almost six months after those two happened in April.

So, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Statcast

Mitch Keller was the Pirates’ No. 2 pick in 2014 and was a Top 50 prospect in all three ranking systems four straight years (2017-20).

This has not translated to good big league results. He’s made 37 starts for the Pirates over the last three years and posted a 5.90 ERA and 1.708 WHIP.

On the other hand, he threw six really good shutout innings against the Cubs — this version of the Cubs — September 2 at Wrigley Field. (The Cubs won the game anyway.)

On the other other hand, since that game: three starts, 4.60 ERA, 1.787 WHIP.

Seems like a guy these Cubs should be able to hit.

Statcast

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.