The Cubs dropped their first series of the year this weekend to the Padres, which was a bummer in a number of respects, even if it didn’t feel like we were watching a crappy team lose to another crappy team. The Cubs easily could have taken that series with a bounce here or a strike three call there.
On to Pittsburgh – from one playoff-potential obstacle for the Cubs (Wild Card) to another (Division).
We’re Going Streaking
The Cubs lost yesterday, but haven’t lost two in a row yet this year. At 6-5, the Cubs are a couple games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central.
The Pirates, coming off a rough start to the year, just swept the Brewers, who are scuffling badly. At 6-6, the Pirates are just a half-game behind the Cubs in the Central, in third place.
Game Times and Broadcasts
- Monday, April 20 at 6:05 CT on CSN+.
- Tuesday, April 21 at 6:05 CT on WGN-9.
- Wednesday, April 22 at 6:05 CT on CSN.
- Thursday, April 23 at 11:35 CT on CSN, MLBN
And, if you’re not in the blackout region, you can always watch on MLB.tv.
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.
Starters: Jake Arrieta (1.98 ERA, 2.11 FIP; 3.00 K/BB), Travis Wood (2.31 ERA, 1.96 FIP; 3.00 K/BB), Jason Hammel (5.11 ERA, 3.56 FIP; 11.00 K/BB), Kyle Hendricks (6.10 ERA, 2.41 FIP; 11.00 K/BB)
- Dexter Fowler, CF
- Jorge Soler, RF
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Starlin Castro, SS
- Chris Coghlan, LF
- Miguel Montero/David Ross/Welington Castillo, C
- Jonathan Herrera, 2B
Starters: A.J. Burnett (2.25 ERA, 2.33 FIP; 5.00 K/BB), Francisco Liriano (2.08 ERA, 3.76 FIP; 3.50 K/BB), Vance Worley (5.84 ERA, 3.88 FIP; 1.67 K/BB), Jeff Locke (1.93 ERA, 2.28 FIP; 8.00 K/BB)
- Josh Harrison, 3B
- Gregory Polanco, RF
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Neil Walker, 2B
- Starling Marte, LF
- Pedro Alvarez, 1B
- Francisco Cervelli, C
- Jordy Mercer, SS
Hot or Not and Whom to Watch
Obligatory Kris Bryant line check: .300/.500/.400. Nice, round numbers.
Chris Coghlan seems to be getting a lot of grief for a guy hitting .235/.316/.500.
Jason Hammel’s 235 wRC+ still leads the team, and I hope that never changes (but, you know, everyone else’s wRC+ reaches 234).
Jorge Soler’s strikeout rate – 32% – is starting to creep up to uncomfortable levels. The good news is that, given how damn hard he hits the ball, I’m not sure his .357 BABIP is unsustainable.
Anthony Rizzo has taken eight walks. He has struck out seven times. He is a machine.
Arismendy Alcantara isn’t getting any starts these days, and he’s not doing anything off of the bench, either. With his .083/.241/.083 line and 30% strikeout rate, you’ve got to figure that a stop back at AAA Iowa might not be too far off.
The Cubs miss Gerrit Cole this series, which ain’t too bad. Still, as a whole, the Pirates are pitching quite well in the early going, with a 3.03 ERA, a 2.84 FIP, and a 2.90 xFIP.
Big offseason signing Jung-Ho Kang is currently hitting .100/.182/.100 for the Pirates. It’s early, obviously, but we’re seeing why the posting price on Kang was so small.
So far, Pedro Alvarez’s bat is responding well to his move across the diamond to first base – he’s hitting .256/.310/.590 with four homers already.
Overall as a team, though, the Pirates are hitting just .222/.281/.355 right now.