Series Preview: Pirates at Cubs, June 8 - June 10, 2018

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Series Preview: Pirates at Cubs, June 8 – June 10, 2018

Chicago Cubs

The Pirates are coming to town this weekend, as the Cubs look to continue this nice little stretch of winning they’ve cobbled together.

The biggest questions for the series include whether or not Addison Russell will return from the shelf and start again (there’s a chance he’ll be available, but not start, in today’s game) or hit the disabled list. And whether or not Mike Montgomery can string together a third solid start in place of Yu Darvish. Given the way things have gone with Tyler Chatwood (more on him later today), the Cubs really need Montgomery to keep looking good.

The Pirates have been struggling lately and the Cubs just took two of three from them, but they’ve still got a talented team. Let’s see if the streaking Cubs can keep it up at home, or if the Pirates will return the favor of a series loss from a couple weeks back.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (35-24) are a season-high 11 games over .500, have won four consecutive series, and 10 of their last 13 games. They’re just a half-game behind the first-place Brewers, and have the fewest loses in the National League.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (31-31) have hit a massive wall. Since May 18th, when they were still nine games over .500, they’ve gone just 5-14, including two walk-offs (three total losses) at the hands of the Cardinals, two losses to the Cubs, two losses to the Reds, and two losses to the Dodgers. Their division (1.0%) and wild card (10.8%) odds aren’t dead, but they each took quite a hit.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Friday, June 8 at 1:20 CT on NBC Sports Chicago, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, June 9 at 1:20 on ABC-7, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, June 10 at 1:20 on WGN, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Mike Montgomery (3.89 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 2.18 K/BB)
  • Jon Lester (2.44 ERA, 4.14 FIP; 2.44 K/BB)
  • Kyle Hendricks (3.59 ERA, 4.48 FIP; 3.35 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – Javy Baez
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Addison Russell (day-to-day)
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber/Ben Zobrist
  • CF – Albert Almora/Ian Happ
  • RF – Jason Heyward/Ben Zobrist

Unavailable: Eddie Butler, Yu Darvish, Carl Edwards Jr.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Probable Pitchers:

  • Chad Kuhl (3.86 ERA, 4.80 FIP; 2.52 K/BB)
  • Nick Kingham (4.03 ERA, 3.46 FIP; 6.00 K/BB)
  • Joe Musgrove (1.89 ERA, 3.48 FIP; 3.40 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Francisco Cervelli
  • 1B – Josh Bell
  • 2B – Josh Harrison
  • 3B – Colin Moran
  • SS – Jordy Mercer
  • LF – Corey Dickerson
  • CF – Starling Marte
  • RF – Gregory Polanco

Unavailable: Ivan Nova, Enny Romero, A.J. Schugel

Keep an Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Mike Montgomery is obviously the one to watch this weekend. Given the revelation that Yu Darvish is going to need multiple rehab starts (and, thus, weeks) before returning, Montgomery is likely to get another 2-3 rounds in the rotation. So while his continued dominance isn’t necessarily needed, his continued usability is.

Cubs Player: Jason Heyward. Although the peripherals are there and he has built up a nice little stretch in the meantime, Heyward has reached base just twice in his past 13 plate appearances. The good news is one of those was a walk-off grand slam, but I’d be very happy if this very hot streak (.389/.405/.528 since May 9) didn’t already come to an end.

Pirates Pitcher: Joe Musgrove. After stifling the Cubs for seven one-run innings at the end of May, Musgrove lasted just 5.0 innings against the Dodgers and allowed three earned runs on two homers, six hits, and a walk. His season stats look good, but seeing the Cubs twice in such a short period of time won’t do him any favors.

Pirates Player: Corey Dickerson has a seven-game hitting streak going on, with a .414/.433/.517 slash line underneath it. HOWEVA, during that stretch he’s only had two extra base hits, zero walks, a .545 BABIP, a tiny 22.7% hard-hit rate, a massive 22.7% soft-hit rate, and a gigantic 59.1% ground ball rate. He’s not actually hitting the ball well. He’s getting lucky. Regress that, Cubs.

The Pirates are never an easy crew, but I’ll take the Cubs in two of three this weekend.

Author: Michael Cerami

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