Pre-Gamin': Cubs at Pirates (6:05 CT) - Lineup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

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Pre-Gamin’: Cubs at Pirates (6:05 CT) – Lineup, Broadcast Info, Game Thread

Chicago Cubs

Okay, so what’s the big deal?

If the Cubs win tonight, they’ll have split their four-game road set with the Pirates and have pushed their magic number down to, at least, 19. Given that it’s September 7 and they’re playing without their starting catcher and shortstop (and will/have missed starts from their two best starting pitchers in the last two weeks alone), I’d say things could be a heck of a lot worse.

Jameson Taillon, tonight’s Pirates starter, isn’t the easiest matchup in the world (his 3.50 FIP would rank 13th in baseball had he enough innings to qualify), but he’s certainly beatable. For one thing, his results this season (4.50 ERA) have been a hell of a lot worse than his peripherals. And while he’s not quite benefiting from a “normal” BABIP, it’s not like he’s been a master of contact management either.

Furthermore, that solid 3.50 FIP trickles down to a less impressive 4.19 FIP when facing left-handers this season, and he’ll have to work his way through five of them tonight (not including the pitcher, Jon Lester, or the good-against-everybody Kris Bryant). I think the Cubs have a shot.

And obviously their chances will improve if Lester comes out looking like the pitcher we all know he can be, instead of the one was injured and blown up in his start against the Reds in August.

To be sure, Lester has already made one start since returning from the disabled list, and it was just okay (at best). He went five innings and walked just one batter, which is good, but he gave up four earned runs on three homers while striking out just four. On the bright side, he did get a TON of soft contact in that one (36.8%), but, unfortunately, his low 36.8% ground ball rate betrayed him. Like Quintana yesterday, you should look for Lester angling to get more balls on the ground.

If he can do that against the Pirates later today, I have no doubt the Cubs magic number will be in the teens before midnight.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (76-63) at Pittsburgh Pirates (67-73) – 6:05 CT on CSN-C, 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.

Starting Pitchers

Cubs: Jon Lester (L): 4.46 ERA, 3.99 FIP, 3.68 xFIP; 3.38 K/BB


Pirates: Jameson Taillon (R): 4.50 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 3.86 xFIP; 2.55 K/BB

Pittsburgh Pirates:

  1. Starling Marte, LF
  2. Max Moroff, 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Josh Bell, 1B
  5. Jordan Luplow, RF
  6. Sean Rodriguez, 3B
  7. Elias Diaz, C
  8. Jordy Mercer, SS
  9. Jameson Taillon, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup:

  1. Ian Happ, CF
  2. Kris Bryant, 3B
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
  5. Kyle Schwarber, LF
  6. Javy Baez, SS
  7. Jason Heyward, RF
  8. Rene Rivera, C
  9. Jon Lester, P

Author: Michael Cerami

Michael Cerami covers the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls at Bleacher Nation. You can find him on Twitter @Michael_Cerami