wrigley stands crowd

The Chicago Cubs head to Pittsburgh for the final series of the first half.

And although they lead the division by 8 games over the Cardinals and 8.5 games over the Pirates, the Cubs are limping into this weekend set – having won just once in their past eight games. The Pirates, on the other hand, have only lost once in their past eight games, and have creeped back above .500.

So, yeah. It’s gut check time.

Jake Arrieta takes the ball for Chicago for the final time in the first half, although he’ll like pitch (if not start) in the All-Star game next week. He’s coming off another abbreviated start against the Mets (5.1 IP) in which he allowed 4 earned runs on eight hits (including a homer), 2 walks and 4 strikeouts. Since May 8, he has a 3.31 ERA (which is not bad, but is not the Arrieta we had come to know). He’ll throw to Miguel Montero and behind and otherwise normal lineup.

Opposing Arrieta is lefty Francisco Liriano. Liriano used to have the Cubs number, but has not quite found it against them this year. In fact, through two starts (10.1 IP), Liriano has allowed 12 earned runs on 15 hits, 9 walks and 13 strikeouts. Still, he boasts pretty mean splits against lefties (.267 wOBA vs. L; .318 vs. R) for his career and he’ll face three of them tonight.

Wins have beens scacre lately, but the Cubs have ended rough stretches with series wins against the Pirates three separate times this year (8-1), including two sweeps. Hopefully, they can do it one last time in the first half.



 


Game Info

Chicago Cubs (52-34) at Pittsburgh Pirates Braves (44-42), 6:05 CT on CSN, MLBN, 670 The Score.

Game Thread and Series Preview

Your game thread is down there in the comments, so have fun. But keep it “safe for work” type fun, all right?

The Series Preview lives hereThe Lineup Discussion lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Cubs: Jake Arrieta (R): 2.33 ERA, 2.90 FIP, 3.41 xFIP; 2.74 K/BB

versus

Pirates: Francisco Liriano (L): 5.34 ERA, 5.83 FIP, 4.79 xFIP; 1.55 K/BB



Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup:

1. John Jaso, 1B

2. Gregory Polanco, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. David Freese, 3B

5. Starling Marte, LF

6. Josh Harrison, 2B

7. Sean Rodriguez, SS

8. Erik Kratz, C

9. Francisco Liriano, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup:

1. Ben Zobrist, 2B

2. Kris Bryant, RF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Willson Contreras, LF

5. Addison Russell, SS

6. Jason Heyward, CF

7. Javy Baez, 3B

8. Miguel Montero, C

9. Jake Arrieta, P




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