RECORDS: Cubs 45-39 Pirates 39-43
GAMETIMES: Monday-Wednesday 6:05, Thursday 3:05
TV: NBCSN Monday-Wednesday, WGN Thursday
STUDIED UNDER GRADY TRIPP: Bucs Dugout
PROBABLE CUBS LINEUP
Kyle Schwarber – LF
Kris Bryant – 3B
Anthony Rizzo – 1B
Javier Baez – SS
Jason Heyward – RF
Albert Almora – CF
Victor Caratini – C
Addison Russell – 2B
PROBABLE PIRATES LINEUP
Kevin Newman – SS
Bryan Reynolds – RF
Starling Marte – CF
Josh Bell – 1B
Colin Moran – 3B
Corey Dickerson – LF
Elias Diaz – C
Adam Frazier – 2B
Ok, this time the Cubs are going to get their road record straightened out and close out strong against an inferior opponent. We really mean it this time. For sure it’s going to happen here. Yep, definitely. Totally.
It sounds good, but much like the Reds the Pirates might not be exactly what they seem. They were 11-15 in June, worse than the .500 record than they had in April and May, but they actually had a positive run-difference in the month which they definitely did not in April and May. That’s baseball for you.
Overall, this is a pretty middling Pirates lineup. Josh Bell has been an unholy monster of course, and he killed the Cubs when he was struggling. But other than him, the only regulars to be above average at the plate are Bryan Reynolds and Kevin Newman, both newcomers on he scene. If you can believe it, Gregory Polanco is hurt again and so is Francisco Cervelli, so those grounders just past short that always seem to drive in two runs from him won’t be a feature this holiday week. Marte has made a lot of contact as usual but it doesn’t really result in much. Cory Dickerson returned from the IL in June and has actually hit, so he’s been a boost and has made left field his.
Guess what? The rotation isn’t that impressive either! That’s Pirates baseball, baby! They’ve missed Jameson Taillon, who looks unlikely to pitch again this year as they’re being awfully careful with the Tommy John survivor. Archer isn’t missing bats as much as giving up more fly balls these days, which in 2019 baseball means you’re getting crushed. Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove have been ok, with the former barely walking anyone. They’ve had to jumble it in the back with nine different guys making starts in June, with the occasional use of an opener.
Like most go-nowhere teams, they’ve had trouble bridging to their closer in Felipe Vasquez. Richard Rodriguez is on a heater with a scoreless June. But Francisco Liriano has been awful of late, Kyle Crick has no idea where the ball is going, and the rest of the crew is the normal gunk you find in a bullpen for a non-contending team.
For the Cubs, Kyle Hendricks will return tomorrow night from shoulder knack that the Cubs are most certainly not rushing him back from in the wake of Cole Hamels‘s injury. Nope, not at all. Ideally, this is the only outing Hendricks will have before the break, and it’ll be a good 10 days before his next one to clear up any lingering problems, if there are any. Alzolay will get another look tonight and if all goes well he could close out the Sox series. Jason Heyward’s latest flare-up at the plate has seen him move up to fifth in the order, which has always gone well in the past of course.
The Cubs caught a bad break with Hamels going down on Friday and leaving the pen to cover eight innings. But at some point, they either need to get going to we’ll just have to live with this being what they are. I’m not there yet, so enough bullshit. Let’s go.