I Believe They Call This the Home Stretch: Pirates at Cubs, September 13-14, 2019

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I Believe They Call This the Home Stretch: Pirates at Cubs, September 13-14, 2019

Chicago Cubs

I will not lie to you: things are looking down.

The Chicago Cubs have a 4.0 game deficit in the division and are tied with the Brewers for the second NL Wild Card (the final postseason slot). The good news is that the Cubs still have seven head-to-head matchups against the Cardinals *and* the Cardinals/Brewers are playing each other this weekend, which means the Cubs will make up some ground on either one of them, so long as they win. The thing is that they still have to, you know, win.

But, hey, we’re Cubs fans. We’re nothing if not delusional, right?

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (78-68) just (frustratingly) split a four-game set with the very beatable Padres and are just 5-5 over their last 10 games. They have an elimination number of 13, as the time on the clock begins to expire.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (65-82) just won two in a row and are also 5-5 over their past ten games. Of course, they’ve also already been eliminated from the division race and are on the doorstep of total elimination (E#: 3). Perhaps the Cubs can do them the courtesy this weekend.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

  • Friday, September 13th at 3:05 CT on NBCSCH, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Saturday, September 14th at 1:20 CT on NBCSCH, MLBN, 670 The Score
  • Sunday, September 15th at 1:20 CT on WGN, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Jon Lester (L) v. Steven Brault (L)
Game 2: Kyle Hendricks (R) v. James Marvel (R)
Game 3: Jose Quintana (L) v. Trevor Williams (R)

Chicago Cubs

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Anthony Rizzo
  • 2B – Ben Zobrist
  • 3B – Kris Bryant
  • SS – Nico Hoerner
  • LF – Kyle Schwarber
  • CF – Jason Heyward
  • RF – Nicholas Castellanos

Unavailable: Craig Kimbrel, Javy Baez, Addison Russell, Xavier Cedeno, Brandon Morrow, Allen Webster

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • C – Edwin Diaz
  • 1B – Josh Bell
  • 2B – Adam Frazier
  • 3B – Colin Moran
  • SS – Kevin Newman
  • LF – Brian Reynolds
  • CF – Starling Marte
  • RF – Melky Cabrera

Unavailable: Chris Archer, Chris Stratton, Jason Martin

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Kyle Hendricks has posted back-to-back solid efforts after getting blown up by the Mets in NY (4.2 IP, 8H, 6ER). Hopefully, so he can string together another one this weekend. If the Cubs are going to reach the postseason, they’ll need to have at least one other starter outside of Yu Darvish on which to rely.

Cubs Player: Ian Happ’s first 61 PAs this season (.278/.361/.574; 138 wRC+) were a billion times better than his next 54 PAs (.149/.241/.234; 27 wRC+), HOWEVER I’ll point out that he’s actually striking out (~24%), walking (~11%), and making “soft” contact (~20%) around the *exact* same rates in both samples.

The big differences, as far as I can tell, have been an increase in his ground ball rate (at the expense of line drives) and less “hard” contact overall. The broader point here is that although he’s definitely struggling, he hasn’t quite been a disaster. In other words, the lack of results is at least partly due to his .176 BABIP (which isn’t entirely unearned, but certainly shouldn’t be that low). I still wouldn’t give him too many starts now that Ben Zobrist and Nico Hoerner are around right now, but I wouldn’t stay clear of him either. If the right matchup presents itself, he should be in there.

Pirates Pitcher: Trevor Williams has given up 56 earned runs over his last 77.1 innings pitched (6.52 ERA) dating back to June 19th. If the Cubs can’t do anything with that this weekend … yikes.

Pirates Player: Starling Marte has been the Pirates only true standout offensive contributor in the second-half of the season, with a 141 wRC+ over his last 229 PAs. If you’re going to let anyone beat you this weekend, it can’t be him.

Author: Michael Cerami

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