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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates series preview

Here is a test to see just how good the 2022 Cubs can be.

Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Cubs played the Brewers very well in the opening series of 2022. Now, they get to play a team that’s not expected to be nearly as good as the Brewers, so I think these two games will be a good indication of where this year’s Cubs could be headed.

This is good news:

For more on the Pirates, here’s Jeremy Brener, an editor at our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout:

The Pirates are coming into the series off a rainout against the Cardinals Monday, so they should have fresh legs for the 4:12 on 4/12 PNC Park opener. Overall, the team this year resembles a lot of last year’s team: mostly replacement-level players with a few exciting key pieces, including Ke’Bryan Hayes and Bryan Reynolds. Hayes signed the richest contract in Pirates history just before the season started, while Reynolds is fighting for arbitration and looking to either surpass Hayes or slide in right under him among the richest contracts in franchise history.

The team is still waiting for top prospect Oneil Cruz to come up, and he should be here by the summer. The top pitching prospect, Roansy Contreras, was called up this past weekend after an injury to former Cub Duane Underwood Jr.

Overall, the Pirates are still expected to lean towards the bottom of the division standings, but the team is expected to perform better than the year before. In Year 2 of the team’s true rebuild, the team is simply looking for progress and that’s what we should see this season.

Fun fact

The Cubs were 14-5 against the Pirates in 2021, but outscored them only 91-77, which is the Pythagorean equivalent to an 11-8 record. Why is this? Eight of the Cubs’ 14 wins over Pittsburgh in 2021 were by one run, while the Bucs won games over the Cubs by 8-2 and 7-1.

Pitching matchups

Tuesday: Drew Smyly, LHP (11-4, 4.48 ERA, 1.374 WHIP, 5.11 FIP) vs. Jose Quintana, LHP (0-3, 6.43 ERA, 1.730 WHIP, 4.66 FIP)

Wednesday: Kyle Hendricks, RHP (0-0, 1.69 ERA, 1.500 WHIP, 2.30 FIP) vs. Zach Thompson, RHP (3-7, 3.24 ERA, 1.213 WHIP, 3.69 FIP)

NOTE: 2021 numbers for Quintana, Smyly and Thompson, 2022 numbers for Hendricks.

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 3:12 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wednesday: 11:35 a.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Jeremy Brener of Bucs Dugout mentioned that odd start time for the Pirates home opener and I had been wondering why they chose it. Turns out you have to think in Eastern time, as the Pirates are doing a ticket promotion (and it’s also Pittsburgh’s area code):

Chicagoans who live near downtown can sort of participate, as the game will start at 3:12 in the 312 area code. And you don't have to buy a ticket!

Prediction

The Cubs might not be worldbeaters in 2022, but they really ought to be able to win both of these games.

Up next

The Cubs head to Denver to face the Colorado Rockies in a four-game series beginning Thursday evening. Denver in April: What could possibly go wrong weatherwise?

Poll

How many games will the Cubs win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    2
    (175 votes)
  • 35%
    1
    (102 votes)
  • 4%
    0
    (13 votes)
290 votes total Vote Now