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Remember back when we thought this time would represent the long-awaited “easy” part of the Cubs’ schedule? Well, the White Sox and Astros certainly didn’t oblige, so how about the Pirates?

By way of reminder, the Series Preview hooks you up with what you need to know about every series this year – streaks, broadcast information, pitchers, expected lineups, etc. That way, if you want to check only one place to get a sense about an upcoming series, or to plan ahead, you’ve got it. Oh, and there will be pictures of beautiful women, too.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs have lost nine games in a row, their worst streak in a decade. It can only get better from here. Unless it gets worse.

The Pirates have been hovering around the .500 mark all year (presently four games below), but they haven’t won a series since mid-May (against the Astros, natch). They’re coming off of two straight losses to the Mets.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, May 25 at 6:05 CT on CSN+.
  • Saturday, May 26 at 6:15 CT on FOX.
  • Sunday, May 27 at 12:35 CT on WGN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Ryan Dempster (0-2, 2.28), Paul Maholm (4-3, 4.73), Matt Garza (2-2, 3.72)

Lineup (unless Dale finally shakes things up):

  1. David DeJesus, RF
  2. Tony Campana, CF
  3. Starlin Castro, SS
  4. Bryan LaHair, 1B
  5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  6. Ian Stewart, 3B
  7. Darwin Barney, 2B
  8. Koyie Hill, C
  9. Pitcher

Astros

Starters: A.J. Burnett (2-2, 4.78), Kevin Correia (1-5, 4.50), Erik Bedard (2-5, 3.52)

Lineups:

  1. Jose Tabata, LF
  2. Josh Harrison, RF
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  5. Neil Walker, 2B
  6. Garrett Jones, 1B
  7. Rod Barajas, C
  8. Clint Barmes, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

David DeJesus has a .382 OBP in May, so he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. But when a team has lost nine in a row, most folks fall into the “not hot” category. I could list everyone who’s on a cold streak, but you would tear your eyes out by the end.

Bryan LaHair is still cool, having just one hit in his last 21 at bats. “Closer” Rafael Dolis has given up runs in four of his last five appearances. Ryan Dempster has given up four earned in each of his last two starts. Matt Garza is coming off his worst start in a Cubs uniform.

Andrew McCutchen is hitting an excellent .338/.391/.543, but pretty much no other Pirate bats are hitting well. Former Cubs farmhand Josh Harrison is the only other semi-regular with an OBP over .300. That ain’t good. Clint Barmes, never a heavy-hitter, is going just .178/.206/.287.

A.J. Burnett gave up 12 earned in an early-May start against the Cardinals, but since then has a scant 2.45 ERA in three starts.

Juan Cruz – yes, that Juan Cruz – has a 1.08 ERA in 16.2 bullpen innings for the Pirates. The whole team has a nice 3.33 ERA on the year.

Series She-View

The Series She-View is one beautiful woman representing the Cubs taking on another (usually) beautiful woman representing the opponent. The Cubs’ representative will change as the team’s needs change – in other words, if the Cubs are winning, the rep will stay the same. But if the Cubs’ performance calls for a change, someone new will step in. The opponent’s representative will change from series to series, at my whim. But at least she’ll probably be wearing the opponent’s colors or have some connection to the team or something like that. It is immature, and the connection to baseball is tenuous at best. These things, I know.

I’m going to catch a lot of heat for this, but I’m sticking with Erin Heatherton as the Cubs’ rep for at least one more series. Like Marisa Miller before her, Erin has thrown out the first pitch at Wrigley Field, which makes me assume she’s a Cubs fan, which makes me believe she can bring home some wins. Also, candidly, she’s a personal favorite. Did I mention that she grew up in Skokie? She actually probably is a Cubs fan. In fact, she probably reads Bleacher Nation, and has a huge e-crush on me. Easy now, Erin. I’m married.

I usually try to find a pirate connection for the Pirates’ rep, but there are only so many pirate movies and TV shows. So I’m going with Robin Wright, circa 1987. Why Robin Wright, circa 1987? Well, that’s when ‘The Princess Bride’ came out, and established itself as one of the greatest, most quotable movies of all-time (most quotable movie of all-time? ‘The Big Lebowski,’ duh). In it, the Dread Pirate Roberts plays a key role. So, there you go. Pirates connection.

Actually, you know what? Screw it. I’m going with Wallace Shawn, the guy who played little smart guy, Vizzini.

Versus

  • Fishin Phil

    Last chance Erin. If you can’t beat Wallace Shawn, we never want to see you grace these pages again.

  • cjdubbya

    WALLACE SHAWN! My favorite character actor. Brett, my man crush grows by the day. My wife and I were talking just last night about the difference between when a guy says a guy they’d like to meet vs. a guy they’d like to have a beer with. You, most definitely, fall in the latter category.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Hopefully we can make that happen some day.

  • Patrick

    Cubs sign Diory Hernandez? Who is this guy?

    https://twitter.com/eddymk/status/206025934149660673

    • Fishin Phil

      This had better be a joke.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Journeyman-type infielder. Has to be a minor league deal, and not really big news. (Glad you passed it on, though.)

      • CubFan Paul

        are we hurting for infield depth at Iowa or is this a precurser to an Iowa call up?

      • Fishin Phil

        Ok, explain this one to me. Go slow, remember I’m a puppet. Why do we need a light hitting 28 year old journeyman infielder in our minor league system. Did all the kids get mono at the same time or something?

        • Kyle

          Theo and Hoyer collect AAA utility infielders the way Jim Hendry collected MLB 2b. It’s an odd compulsion, but ultimately harmless.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Blake DeWitt was hurt yesterday, so it could be little more than that.

          • Fishin Phil

            I didn’t realize DeWitt got hurt. Now it makes sense. Garbage In, Garbage Out.

          • Cubbie Blues

            Is it wrong of me to be a little happy since this means he won’t be called back up?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I’ll let you know after I find out how serious his injury is.

            • Papi

              How could you be happy Dale’s favorite hitter won’t be called back up? You spell slump-buster Capital D-e-Capital W-i-t-t

    • rcleven

      159/.240/.159

      With numbers like this he fits right into current system.
      Ho hum.

      • ColoCubFan

        He’s probably got a huge upside!! (Is anybody else besides me getting really tired of hearing about some player’s upside? I kind of prefer proven average players than somebody with lousy numbers, but a huge upside.)

        • rcleven

          Keep telling yourself he is only a fill in, he is only a fill in, he is only a fill in.

  • Dougy D

    Just because someone throws out the first pitch certainly doesn’t make them a Cubs fan. Remember a few years ago when that nascar guy threw out the pitch and sang the 7th inning stretch (Jeff Gordon, I think). There is know way in hell he even knew what was going on. For about half to a quarter of them it is just a publicity deal.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Tongue —> cheek.

  • necusfan

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Mrp

    “Clint Barmes, never a heavy-hitter, is going just .178/.206/.287″

    Now I know who is going to crush a 3 run bomb in every game of the series.

  • Kyle

    I’m trying to reconcile Callis confidently predicting that the 2003 Cubs’ amazing minor league system would result in a WS by 2013 with so many people’s insistence that the Cubs have never tried building from within before.

  • EQ76

    Not a big Erin fan at all.. she’s just ok for me and we’ve sucked under her watch.. Brett, I guess you have a thing for her?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I said so explicitly…

      • EQ76

        So she’s on your “Free Pass” list with the wife?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          We should probably have that conversation. I have no list, but, yes, she would assuredly be on it.

          • Cubbie Blues

            I assumed celebrities didn’t get to have those lists?

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Haha, the day I become a celebrity,* I’ll tear it up.

              * Incidentally, the day I become a celebrity is the day I make someone else’s list.

              • EQ76

                Just make sure the list gets laminated.. that makes it official.

              • Joker

                How do you know that you’re not already on someone’s list? Seems like there is a lot of Brett bromance love going on around these parts.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Shout it from the rooftops, folks!

  • FromFenwayPahk

    Can we win in a land war
    in Asia?

  • RY34

    based on these matchups on paper, if we don’t break our losing streak this series, lord help us the rest of the way!

  • Stephen

    Watching DeWitt, Baker, and Koye Hill play on the same field should replace waterboarding.

  • ytowncubsfan

    Since I am only about an hour away I will be making my yearly trip down to PNC Park to check out the cubs. Anyone else making the trip to see two of the worst hitting teams in the NL?

  • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

    Clint Barmes will break out of his slump this series, guaranteed (Damnit!)

    • Spriggs

      Or to put it another way — Starting on Friday, Barmes will temporarily stop blowing.

      I will cut him some slack though, since he’s a Sycamore.

  • Ivy Walls

    Proof read insert: Cubs playing Pirates not Astros

  • ottoCub

    Cubs lineup for tonight. Castro (finally, IMO) moves to second in the order, and Mather gets a rare start in place of Campana in CF.

    DeJesus RF
    Castro SS
    Mather CF
    LaHair 1b
    Soriano LF
    Stewart 3B
    Barney 2B
    Hill C
    Dempster P

  • Cheryl

    Brett, Just saw on MLB that Castro is in batting second and Mather is 3rd with LaHair 4th, I like this lineup exept that Campagna is not in it.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, remember that there is very little you can do by juggling a lineup.  Yes, putting low OBP guys at the top of the lineup decreases run production, but that plays out over days, not single games.  Now, what little benefit you do get over weeks will be maximized by putting your best overall hitter #2: but batting Castro #2 instead of #3 will result in extra runs per month, not per series!  (Still, that means that some series will see an extra run, and thus some fraction of those series will see an extra win.)

      Still, switch out Barney for Cardenas and get one of the other 3 catchers back, and this might be close to a league average lineup.

  • MTCubbie

    The Wall Steet Journal has an article showing that the Pirates offense is the worst since the chang of the last (1900) century!

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303360504577412462105087518.html?grcc=88888Z0ZhpgeZ1Z0Z0Z0Z0&mod=WSJ_hpp_sections_sports

    Can only mean one thing…. They are going to light us up!

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