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pittsburgh-piratesThanks to an overloaded early portion of the schedule for these two teams, the Cubs and Pirates haven’t played each other since mid-June.

All things considered, you’d like to see the Cubs continue their hot ways, but if you had to pick a realistic team to back in the NL Central at this point, it would definitely be the Pirates. Because they aren’t the Cardinals or Brewers.

I’ll be at today’s game in the right field bleachers in my blue BN shirt, wearing lovely blue and yellow shoes. Come say hey.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs have been doing their part to help the Pirates, holding serve with the Cardinals and then sweeping the Brewers.

The Pirates, however, haven’t lived up to their end of the deal, losing four in a row, and just getting swept by those Cardinals. They’re now five back in the Central.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Friday, September 5 at 1:20 CT on WGN.
  • Saturday, September 6 at 3:05 CT on CSN.
  • Sunday, September 7 at 1:20 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: Tsuyoshi Wada (2.79 ERA, 3.80 FIP; 3.14 K/BB), Felix Doubront (1.29 ERA, 2.41 FIP; 4.00 K/BB), Travis Wood (4.81 ERA, 4.28 FIP; 1.90 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Chris Coghlan, LF
  2. Javier Baez, 2B
  3. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  4. Jorge Soler, RF
  5. Welington Castillo, C
  6. Arismendy Alcantara, CF
  7. Logan Watkins, 2B
  8. Chris Valaika (Mike Olt?), 1B
  9. Pitcher

Pirates

Starters: Vance Worley (3.01 ERA, 3.75 FIP; 3.75 K/BB), Francisco Liriano (3.91 ERA, 3.81 FIP; 2.22 K/BB), Gerrit Cole (3.86 ERA, 3.65 FIP; 2.62 K/BB)

Lineup:

  1. Josh Harrison, 3B
  2. Andrew Lambo, RF
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Neil Walker, 2B
  5. Russell Martin, C
  6. Ike Davis, 1B
  7. Starling Marte, LF
  8. Jordy Mercer, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

It’s an all lefty rotation for the Cubs, who will feature Felix Doubront in the middle game. He’s making his second start with the Cubs after a great one in St. Louis.

We might see Mike Olt returning to the Cubs for this series, after his rehab stint with the Kane County Cougars (hamstring).

In his last 12 games, Arismendy Alcantara has homered five times, and sports a .250/.292/.591 (.376 wOBA, 139 wRC+).

Although Andrew McCutchen is obviously pacing the Pirates, how about the walk year Russell Martin is putting together? A .288/.408/.415 line, and he’s walking nearly as much as he’s striking out. He’s going to get paaaaid this offseason. (Just beware the BABIP that is 50 points higher than his career average.)

Matching Martin’s .369 wOBA and 139 wRC+? Former Cubs farmhand Josh Harrison, whose breakout season continues.

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