Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, August 16th - August 19, 2018

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Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, August 16th – August 19, 2018

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs are moving away from Wrigley Field for their next six games, starting with a four-game set against the Pirates.

This is the beginning of a lengthy 13-game stretch against very beatable teams (Pirates, Tigers, Reds, Mets), so here’s to the Cubs taking advantage and banking some wins ahead of the tough stretch that follows (Braves, Phillies, Brewers, Nationals, Brewers).

There’s also a number of really important starts coming up for Cubs pitchers this weekend. For example, we’ll be watching closely to see if Jon Lester can break out of his funk, if Cole Hamels can keep the good times rolling, if Mike Montgomery will jump right back into the rotation without issue, and if Jose Quintana can get back on track.

And, of course, at the end of this stretch, the Cubs should be close to getting Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, and/or Brandon Morrow back. So there’s the potential for us to have a very good two weeks. Let’s just hope the Cubs pull it off.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (69-50) continue to flirt with .500 here in the second half, but have a shot to pull three games over later tonight. They remain the best team in the National League, with the biggest first-place lead at the moment (3.0 games).

The Pittsburgh Pirates (61-60) are 13-11 in the second half, but have lost three in a row and four of their last five. They’ve dropped to 9.0 games out of first and 6.0 in the Wild Card race. The fun run they had just before the break appears to be over. Let’s hope the Cubs keep it that way.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Thursday, August 16th at 6:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Friday, August 17th at 6:05 CT on CSN-C, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, August 18th at 6:05 CT on WGN, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, August 19th at 12:35 CT on ABC-7, 670 The Score

Chicago Cubs

Probable Pitchers:

  • Jon Lester (3.89 ERA, 5.02 FIP; 2.02 K/BB)
  • Cole Hamels (1.00 ERA, 1.94 FIP; 5.00)
  • Mike Montgomery (3.62 ERA, 3.96 FIP; 1.91 K/BB)
  • Jose Quintana (4.46 ERA, 4.85 FIP; 2.00 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: Justin Hancock, Kris Bryant, Yu Darvish, Drew Smyly, Brandon Morrow, Brian Duensing

Pittsburgh Pirates

Probable Pitchers:

  • Ivan Nova (4.42 ERA, 4.58 FIP; 3.26 K/BB)
  • Trevor Williams (3.66 ERA, 4.27 FIP; 2.00 K/BB)
  • Joe Musgrove (3.49 ERA, 3.60 FIP; 3.10 K/BB)
  • Jameson Taillon (3.66 ERA, 3.47 FIP; 3.42 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: Sean Rodriguez, Chad Kuhl, A.J. Schugel

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Carl Edwards had a tough appearance yesterday, allowing two hits and a walk while recording just 1 out in relief of Kyle Hendricks. I’m sure it’ll be a one-time thing, but I’m excited to see him go out there, kick butt, and wash that one away.

Cubs Player: David Bote continues to draw all eyes his way, and he’s currently got a three-game hitting streak going, so we’ll be watching to see if that keeps up. Meanwhile, he’ll be crossing the 100 PA threshold this weekend, which also allows for a little more confidence in the in-depth analysis. 

Pirates Pitcher: Joe Musgrove has a 2.33 ERA through four starts in the second half of the season, though it’s worth pointing out that his 3.42 FIP and 4.40 xFIP tell a very different story. As does his 11.2% strikeout rate. He’s gotten good results, but the Cubs can definitely bust him.

Pirates Player: Adam Frazier has somewhat erupted here in the second half of the season, slashing .385/.411/.615 (174 wRC+) in 56 plate appearances. However, he is 1 for his last 11, so perhaps he’s finally slowing down. The timing sure would be swell.

Author: Michael Cerami

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