Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, July 31 - August 1, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, July 31 – August 1, 2018

Chicago Cubs

The Chicago Cubs are still in first place of the NL Central, but the Milwaukee Brewers are hot on their tails and the Pittsburgh Pirates are motoring behind them, making blockbuster deals at the deadline and everything.

Indeed, after winning six-straight games heading into the break, the Pirates won five-straight immediately after and are suddenly threatening to be relevant again. Sure, they’re still 7.0 games behind the Cubs in the NL Central, but they’re just 3.5 out of the Wild Card and have been using the deadline to their advantage this season.

This won’t be an easy matchup for the Cubs, who’ve had their fair share of injuries and issues lately, but at least they won’t have to face Chris Archer right away, right?

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (61-44) just dropped two of three to the Cardinals after splitting a four-game set with the D-Backs. They won 3 of 5 from St. Louis before that, but it’s been a mediocre start to the second-half, at best.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (55-52), as discussed, have been flying high lately, but have finally started to lose at least some games. They dropped two (of four) to the Mets and one of three to the Indians, but make no mistake: they’re hot.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Tuesday, July 31st at 6:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, August 1st at 6:05 CT on WGN, MLBN (out-of-market), 670 the Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jon Lester (3.06 ERA, 4.59 FIP; 2.09 K/BB)
  • Cole Hamels (4.72 ERA, 5.20 FIP; 2.71 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – Javy Baez/David Bote
  • 3B – Ian Happ/David Bote
  • SS – Addison Russell
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber/Ben Zobrist
  • CF – Albert Almora/Ian Happ
  • RF – Jason Heyward/Ben Zobrist

Unavailable: Anthony Bass, Justin Hancock, Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Drew Smyly, Brandon Morrow

Pittsburgh Pirates

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jameson Taillon (3.73 ERA, 3.44 FIP; 3.56 K/BB)
  • Nick Kingham (4.80 ERA, 5.19 FIP; 3.06 K/BB)

Active Depth Chart:

  • C – Francisco Cervelli
  • 1B – Jose Osuna
  • 2B – Josh Harrison
  • 3B – Colin Moran
  • SS – Jordy Mercer
  • LF – Jordan Luplow
  • CF – Starling Marte
  • RF – Gregory Polanco

Unavailable: Josh Bell, Corey Dickerson, Chad Kuhl, Adam Schugel

Keep An Eye Out For …

*New* Cubs Pitcher: Cole Hamels gets his Cubs debut in the second game this week, and he’ll surely be looking to impress. He’s had a bit of a rough stretch lately – and changing teams midseason rarely helps – but he’s a grizzled veteran with a ton of experience, so let’s see if he can shine a bit,

Cubs Player: Javier Baez is working on a three-game hitting streak, and while it features just four hits so far, those four hits include a double, two homers, and five RBI. Dude knows how to make it count. More impressively, Baez’s streak was actually interrupted by a two-PA pinch-hit opportunity on the 26th. Otherwise, it would’ve stretched back another four days. And you know what, now that I’m looking closely, check this out:

*New* Pirates Pitcher: Keone Kela isn’t likely to decide this series on his own, but he has been very good this year and will likely appear out of the pen before it’s all said and done. With that in mind, note that he has given up runs in each of his last two outings and in three of his last six appearances overall. Cracks, reveal thyselves!

Pirates Player: Corey Dickerson, in case you were wondering, continues to be an absolute unit for the Pirates, slashing .318/.351/.517 on the season after being dumped from the Rays over the winter. He’s got a six game hitting streak going right now and it features 13(!) hits including three doubles and five home runs. He’s absolutely scorching hot and the Cubs pitchers should do their best to avoid him.

Author: Michael Cerami

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