Series Preview: Pirates at Cubs, September 2 - September 5, 2021

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Series Preview: Pirates at Cubs, September 2 – September 5, 2021

Chicago Cubs
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Later tonight, the Cubs will kick off their second-to-last homestand of the season. This one starts with four games against the Pirates and three games against the Reds, before hosting the Giants for three and hitting the road.

In terms of the #DiveForFive, the Cubs have a 1.0 game lead over the Royals (9th) and a 2.5 game lead over the Rockies (10th) for the 8th pick in the draft, but they trail the Twins (7th) by a half-game after sweeping them this week. Miami has pulled away for the 5th pick in the draft, but the Cubs could realistically end up as high as 6th if things go … right? Wrong? You get the idea.

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (59-75) just swept the Twins … which was actually a bad thing for their place in the reverse standings. But what are you gonna do. They’re a very bad team, too. You know who else is bad? The Pittsburgh Pirates (48-85) who have as many losses as the Dodgers have wins here in September. They also have the worst run differential in the NL and have lost six of their last ten.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Thursday, September 2nd at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Friday, September 3rd at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score
•   Saturday, September 4th at 1:20 on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Sunday, September 5th at 1:20 on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Mitch Keller (R) vs. Keegan Thompson (R)
Game 2: Steven Brault (L) vs. Alec Mills (R)
Game 3: TBD vs. Kyle Hendricks (R)
Game 4: 
Wil Crowe (R) vs. Zach Davies (R)

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Robinson Chirinos
•   1B – Frank Schwindel
•   2B – Matt Duffy
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Sergio Alcantara/Andrew Romine
•   LF – Ian Happ/Patrick Wisdom
•   CF – Rafael Ortega
•   RF – Jason Heyward/Michael Hermosillo

Unavailable: Nico Hoerner, Willson Contreras, David Bote, Jonathan Holder, Nick Madrigal, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins, Kohl Stewart, Brad Wieck

Pittsburgh Pirates

•   C – Jacob Stallings
•   1B – Colin Moran
•   2B – Hoy Park
•   3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
•   SS – Kevin Newman
•   LF – Anthony Alford
•   CF – Bryan Reynolds
•   RF – Cole Tucker

Unavailable: JT Brubaker, Dillon Peters, Michael Chavis, Blake Cederlind, José Soriano, Trevor Cahill, Chase De Jong

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -104
Pirates: -203

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.23
Pirates: 3.57

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 4.99
Pirates: 5.10

Keep An Eye Out For …

Kyle Hendricks has been … not great for a while now. Dating back to July 26th, he’s got a 6.92 ERA (5.52 FIP) with an uncharacteristically low strikeout rate (16.9%) and a little less soft contact than usual. He is still getting ground balls and preventing too many free passes, but he’s allowed four or more earned runs in four of his last 7 starts. To be fair, those other three starts includes 6.0 innings of one-run ball, 6.0 innings of two-run ball, and 7.0 innings of one-run ball. So it’s basically just been all in or all off.

Zach Davies’ walk rate is finally coming down. And that’s been nice to see. I still don’t believe he, a free agent at the end of the season, and the Cubs will re-up for next year, but I suppose anything is possible.

Keegan Thompson’s first two starts with the Cubs haven’t gone well, including more walks than strikeouts and more runs scored than innings pitched. It’s no doubt disappointing, but I’m also not really concerned just yet. It’s been two starts. His first two starts. Let’s see what he does against a weak offense and perhaps eventually with some momentum.

Frank Schwindel freakin’ rocks. He’s got a .644 slugging with a strikeout rate almost under 18%. And he’s making a ton of contact and he’s got a great smile. Is it all smoke and mirrors? Maybe! But I’m enjoying the heck out of it right now.

Author: Michael Cerami

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