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On The Horizon: Cubs vs. Pirates series preview

It’s the first meeting of the year between these division rivals.

Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

This is the latest first meeting of the year between the Cubs and Pirates since 1998, another year where there was a balanced schedule. That year, the teams did not meet until the Cubs’ 85th game on July 1, a game the Cubs won 12-9. Tonight is the Cubs’ 66th game.

The teams will also meet next week in Pittsburgh, so six of the Cubs’ next nine games will be against the Pirates. Get used to seeing a lot of these guys over the next nine days.

For more on the Pirates, here’s Jeremy Brener of our SB Nation Pirates site Bucs Dugout.

The Pirates find themselves in unusual territory: First place atop the NL Central in the middle of June. Thanks to some veteran leadership (Andrew McCutchen & Carlos Santana), along with inspired play from unexpected sources (Ji Hwan-bae, Connor Joe), the Pirates have been able to play at an above .500 pace.

The team has also improved in the pitching department, posting a team ERA of 4.05, which currently ranks fourth in the National League. Former Cub Rich Hill, Wednesday’s starter, is another example of this unexpected source of success. At 43 years old, Hill is turning back the clock and has been one of the more reliable arms for the Pirates this year. The other starters for the series, Luis Ortiz and Johan Oviedo, have also shown signs of strength this year.

Pittsburgh is proving to be a team that’s tough to beat night in and night out. They play a lot of games close, which should make for an exciting series this week.

Fun fact

The Cubs have won 1,259 games against the Pirates, tied for their most wins against any team. They also have 1,259 wins against the Cardinals. But the Cubs have lost 1,305 times to the Pirates, 94 more than their 1,211 to the Cardinals. The Cubs and Pirates have also played 18 ties, for a total of 2,582 games. That is the most between any two teams in MLB history.

Three other rivalries have surpassed 2,500 games: Cardinals-Pirates (2,573), Dodgers-Giants (2,557) and Braves-Phillies (2,522). Cubs-Cardinals will join that list when the teams square off for the final time this season, July 30 at St. Louis. (Courtesy BCB’s JohnW53)

Probable pitching matchups

Tuesday: Jameson Taillon, RHP (1-4, 7.02 ERA, 1.535 WHIP, 4.67 FIP) vs. Luis Ortiz, RHP (1-2, 4.23 ERA, 1.807 WHIP, 6.09 FIP)

Wednesday: Drew Smyly, LHP (5-4, 3.27 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 3.94 FIP) vs. Rich Hill, LHP (6-5, 4.23 ERA, 1.369 WHIP, 4.39 FIP)

Thursday: Marcus Stroman, RHP (7-4, 2.42 ERA, 1.039 WHIP, 3.48 FIP) vs. Johan Oviedo, RHP (3-5, 4.16 ERA, 1.430 WHIP, 3.97 FIP)

Times & TV channels

Tuesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Wednesday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network

Thursday: 7:05 p.m. CT, Marquee Sports Network


These aren’t going very well lately, though the Cubs outdid my prediction of one win against the Giants.

The Pirates just came off a nine-game homestand in which they:

  • Swept the Cardinals, then
  • Lost two of three to the A’s, then
  • Took two of three from the Mets

No, I can’t figure that out either. I have no idea what to think here, but I’m going to say the pitching matchups are favorable enough for the Cubs, and they will win two of three anyway.

Up next

The Cubs host the Baltimore Orioles in a three-game series at Wrigley Field beginning Friday afternoon.


How many games will the Cubs win against the Pirates?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    (35 votes)
  • 40%
    (67 votes)
  • 30%
    (51 votes)
  • 8%
    (14 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now