So far this season, the Chicago Cubs are 20-15 at home, but just 12-18 on the road. If they hope to take the Central by the end of the year, that’s going to have to change … and, like, fast.
Because starting today, the Cubs are playing in 17 straight contests, of which only three will be at Wrigley Field. That’s 14 road games they can not afford to win at a .400 pace. In reality, they really need to play even better than *.500* during this stretch if they hope to cover some ground in the standings.
And that all starts tonight with Eddie Butler. But unlike some of his early starts with the Cubs, hearing Butler’s name isn’t terrifying (in my opinion). In fact, he’s put together back-to-back usable starts against two pretty good lineups in Colorado and Miami:
Miami: 5.2 IP, 3H, 1ER, 1BB, 4K
Colorado: 5.0 IP, 6H, 3ER, 1BB, 3K
The best part of both games is that Butler’s walked just two batters in 10.2 innings pitched, versus 13 in the 18.1 IP prior. If he can continue to work in the zone and keep the free passes to a minimum, he might be able to string together three straight winnable starts. And that’s all you can ask from him at this point. Remember, he’s got the talent, it’s just about harnessing all of it.
And if you’re still nervous about Butler’s start tonight, you can at least take solace in the fact that he’s matched up against arguably the weakest pitcher of the weekend. Trevor Williams, 25, has made just 7 starts this season and they haven’t gone too well: 5.05 ERA, 4.62 FIP, 4.62 xFIP.
He does have a pretty nice 48.3% ground ball rate and an unfairly low 63.4% strand rate, but the Cubs should be able to manage this righty. It might not be a low scoring affair, but I’ll take the Cubs over the Pirates tonight.
Chicago Cubs (32-33) at Pittsburgh Pirates (30-36) – 6:05 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
Game Thread and Series Preview
Your game thread is down in the comments, so let’s have some good, clean (safe-for-work) fun today.
Cubs: Eddie Butler (R): 4.03 ERA, 4.13 FIP, 4.75 xFIP; 1.40 K/BB
Pirates: Trevor Williams (R): 5.13 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 4.98 xFIP; 2.38 K/BB
- Adam Frazier, LF
- Josh Harrison, 2B
- Gregory Polanco, RF
- David Freese, 3B
- Josh Bell, 1B
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Francisco Cervelli, C
- Jordy Mercer, SS
- Trevor Williams, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ian Happ, 2B
- Kyle Schwarber, LF
- Addison Russell, SS
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Willson Contreras, C
- Tommy La Stella, 3B
- Eddie Butler, P
- Albert Almora Jr., CF