I’m heading to Wrigley Field tonight, to watch the Cubs and Pirates square up in their first of (what’ll ultimately be) seven games over the next two weeks.
Mike Montgomery is taking the mound for an injured Jon Lester, but perhaps there’ll be no love lost tonight, as Montgomery was pretty good his last time out: 6.0 IP, 4H, 0ER, 1BB, 4Ks. In that last start, which came against the Reds, he did an especially good job of inducing ground balls (76.5%), and that could be on repeat tonight as the Pirates have the fifth highest ground ball rate in baseball (the Reds, for what it’s worth, have one of the lowest ground ball rates in the league).
Another advantage for Montgomery: the Pirates have just an 88 wRC+ against left-handers this season, eighth worst in MLB. Josh Bell, their star first baseman, has had a particularly tough time against lefties this season (91 wRC+).
Opposing Montgomery is the young righty Trevor Williams. Williams has made 20 starts this season and six appearances out of the pen, working a 4.40 ERA (4.09 FIP) in the process. Like Montgomery, Williams has done a great job at getting a lot of ground balls (48.3%), but he’s struggled to strike batters out (17.8 K%).
Other stuff: Williams doesn’t walk many guys and gives up pretty league average contact, so the Cubs’ bats will just have to jump on him early and make him pay with hits when he makes mistakes in the zone.
I’ll see you at Wrigley if you’re going. Otherwise, Go Cubs!
Chicago Cubs (69-60) at Pittsburgh Pirates (63-68) – 7:05 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: Mike Montgomery (L): 3.43 ERA, 4.11 FIP, 4.34 xFIP; 1.76 K/BB
Pirates: Trevor Williams (R): 4.40 ERA, 4.09 FIP, 4.56 xFIP; 2.22 K/BB
- Sean Rodriguez, 2B
- Jose Osuna, RF
- Andrew McCutchen, CF
- Josh Bell, 1B
- David Freese, 3B
- Starling Marte, LF
- Jordy Mercer, SS
- Chris Stewart, C
- Trevor Williams, P
Chicago Cubs Lineup:
- Jon Jay, CF
- Tommy La Stella, 2B
- Kris Bryant, 3B
- Anthony Rizzo, 1B
- Ian Happ, LF
- Alex Avila, C
- Jason Heyward, RF
- Javy Baez, SS
- Mike Montgomery, P