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Back to Wrigley Field: Pirates at Cubs, July 31 – August 2, 2020

Chicago Cubs

There are postponed games across baseball, including the NL Central, so we’ll just have to see what happens this weekend, but for now there is Cubs baseball and it’s at Wrigley Field. The Cubs are hosting the Pirates for three games in Chicago starting tonight, before welcoming the Royals for two quick games early next week (the Cubs will then head to Kansas City for two more games on Wednesday and Thursday, effectively creating a four-game series).

It’s been a good start competitively so far, let’s see if they can keep it up against an NL Central bottom-feeder.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (4-2) won their first series of the year against the Brewers, before taking two of three against the Reds, with the fourth banged by rain last night. On the whole, they’ve looked good offensively and have had some nice starting pitching performances, but the bullpen is … exactly what we thought it was going to be coming into the season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (2-4) dropped two of three to the Brewers and two of three to the Cardinals. Thanks for nothing, Pittsburgh. Also, keep it up and give us two of three this weekend.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Friday, July 31st at 7:15 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, August 1st at 7:15 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, August 2nd at 1:20 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Trevor Williams (R) v. Yu Darvish (R)
Game 2: Mitch Keller (R) v. Tyler Chatwood (R)
Game 3: TBD v. Jon Lester (L)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Anthony Rizzo
•   2B – Nico Hoerner
•   3B – Kris Bryant
•   SS – Javy Baez
•   LF – Kyle Schwarber
•   CF – Ian Happ
•   RF – Jason Heyward
•   DH – Victor Caratini

Unavailable: Quintana, Wieck, Descalso

Pittsburgh Pirates

•   C – Jacob Stallings
•   1B – Josh Bell
•   2B – Adam Frazier
•   3B – Colin Moran
•   SS – Kevin Newman
•   LF – Bryan Reynolds
•   CF – Jarrod Dyson
•   RF – Gregory Polanco
•   DH – Rotates daily (Osuna, Moran, Bell, and Polanco have all done it).

Unavailable: Kela, Holmes, Crick, Maile, Riddle, Archer, Kramer, Taillon

Keep An Eye Out For …

Cubs Pitcher: Yu Darvish was supposed to go against the Reds last night, but will get the Pirates today, instead. Optimistically, the Pirates are a weaker lineup than the Reds, so that’s working for him. But pessimistically, Darvish and Caratini likely game planned for Cincinnati, which is a very different group than Pittsburgh. Alas, it happens. I just really want Darvish to have a good start to build some momentum after a weak 2020 debut against Milwaukee, defined by poor command.

Cubs Player: Thanks in no small part to five (5!) HBPs and 3 HRs in just six games, Anthony Rizzo has a 237 wRC+, despite a .235 batting average and .111 BABIP. That is one seriously weird production, which happens to be 8th best in MLB.

Pirates Pitcher: Mitch Keller had a pretty good 2020 debut against the Cardinals (5.0 IP, 2H, 1ER, 3BB, 2Ks), but I’m more interested in his two starts against Chicago late last season. In the first, Keller surrendered six earned runs to Chicago, allowing two walks, three doubles, and two homers in just 4.1 IP. A month later, however, he held them to just 1 earned run over 5.0 innings with 7 strikeouts. The lineup is little different this year, but it seems he did make an effective adjustment between starts. Let’s hope he forgot it.

Pirates Player: Colin Moran has been the Pirates hottest hitter so far, slashing .300/.364/.800, with 3 homers in just 6 games, after hitting 13 homers in 149 games last season.

Author: Michael Cerami

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