Photo: Arturo Pardavila III
Pittsburgh Pirates (40-46) @ Chicago Cubs (42-43)
Time: Friday – 2:20
The Pirates are on a 3 game winning streak entering their final series before the All Star break. Yesterday the Cubs got massacred by the Brewers. The Cubs starter lasted just 2.1 innings which put a lot of stress on the bullpen. Jon Jay, the Cubs center fielder, even made a relief appearance last night.
Eddie Butler is not good. He’s almost walking as many as he’s striking out. With the Cubs fatigued bullpen, getting to Butler early could be huge. Chad Kuhl hasn’t lasted deep into games this year. But Eddie Butler has been worse, averaging just 4.7 innings per start. In his last start against the Pirates, Butler gave up a home run and a triple to Josh Bell.
Trevor Williams has 3 straight quality starts. He doesn’t have 4 straight quality starts because 4 starts ago the Cubs forced him out of the game before he could go 6 innings. I started as a Williams skeptic, but I have become a Williams believer. He looks like a solid pitcher, and now that he’s starting to get swings and misses, he could be a nice starter for the Pirates.
According to Bovada, the Pirates are underdogs in this one.
Time: Saturday – 7:15
Jake Arrieta has a 4.03 ERA over his last 30 starts. He has struggled
Ivan Nova has a 3.27 ERA over his last 30 starts. He has not struggled. Since May, Nova’s ERA is 4.04. He hasn’t been as good and that’s partly due to him owing a 12.0 K% since then. He will need to see an increase in strikeouts if he wants to keep that ERA in the low to mid 3s.
Time: Sunday – 1:10
Even though Lester has a 3.94 ERA, he has been their best starting pitcher this season. Lester is a lefty and the Pirates match up well against him. Over his career, the Pirates are hitting .264/.340/.404 against Lester. Those numbers suggest that this game is very winnable, especially with…
Jameson Taillon is on the mound for the Pirates in the 1st half finale. His 2.73 ERA is the 7th best for starting pitchers with at least 60 innings pitched this year. Once again, the Pirates will be underdogs in this one. But you have to feel confident with Taillon on the mound at this point.
The Pirates are not expected to win this series. But that doesn’t matter. The Pirates need to win this series.
Cubs: Willson Contreras – Last 14 days .308/.400/.641, 4 HR, 23.9 K%, 13.0 BB%
Pirates – Andrew McCutchen is obvious, but other than that… The Pirates bullpen has given up just 3 earned runs over their last 19 IP. Suddenly, Watson and Hudson look like they are capable of getting outs.
Rays: Addison Russell – Last 14 days .219/.286/.250 0 HR, 31.4 K%, 5.7 BB%
Pirates: Adam Frazier – Last 30 days .211/.283/.289 0 HR, 14.1 K%, 8.1 BB%
Pirates: Completely healthy