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Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates preview, Wednesday 5/18, 6:40 CT

The Cubs go for the series sweep!

Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Wednesday notes...

  • WEIRD NUMBERS OF THE DAY:
  • STARTING PITCHING IS MUCH IMPROVED: Cubs starting pitchers have posted a 2.37 ERA (13 earned runs in 49⅓ IP) in the team’s last nine games since May 8. Also in those nine games, Cubs starters have walked 15 and struck out 39 while opponents have batted .218 (39-for-179).
  • THE HITTERS, TOO: The Cubs are hitting .288 (23-for-80) with runners in scoring position in the team’s last nine games since May 8.
  • AND DON’T FORGET THE BULLPEN: The Cubs bullpen has posted a 2.62 ERA (16 earned runs in 55 innings) since May 1, the best mark in the NL.

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.

Drew Smyly, LHP vs. Wil Crowe, RHP

USA TODAY NETWORK
USA TODAY NETWORK

Drew Smyly has made two starts against the Pirates this year. One was really good (five shutout innings), the other not so much. Overall vs. Pittsburgh in 2022: 10 innings, four runs (3.60 ERA), 1.000 WHIP, five strikeouts, one walk.

The Pirates aren’t hitting lately, though they have been better vs. LH starters (7-4) than RH starters (8-17) this year. Hope Smyly brings his “A” game tonight.

Wil Crowe was a starter last year for the Pirates (25 starts in 26 appearances) and the results were not good: 5.48 ERA, 1.569 WHIP, 25 home runs allowed in 116⅔ innings.

So this year the Bucs have turned him into a reliever and he’s been pretty good: 2.57 ERA, 1.143 WHIP in 13 appearances covering 21 innings. His walk rate is a bit high (4.3 per nine innings, about the same as last year).

Crowe’s high pitch count this year is 50, but he hasn’t done that in a month and hasn’t gone more than two innings since he threw three shutout innings against the Cubs April 13 in Pittsburgh, so I would guess he’s being used as an opener today. Overall vs. the Cubs this year, Crowe has thrown 6⅔ shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. The Cubs will have to be better tonight.

Pirates manager Derek Shelton hinted that Mitch Keller, who ordinarily would have taken this turn, could be used in relief today. Keller was pounded by the Reds in each of his last two starts. He has not faced the Cubs this year, but one Cub in particular has hit him hard: Ian Happ (7-for-15, a double, two home runs, three walks).

Statcast
Statcast

Today’s game is on YouTube. Here’s how to watch.

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 2022 Game Thread procedure will be like last years, 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.