Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, September 28 – September 30, 2021

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The Cubs are done with Wrigley Field for the year, but there are six more games left to be played. The first three come against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, which will feature the final starts of the season for Kyle Hendricks and Justin Steele. Would love to see them both finish strong.

After this, the Cubs will head to St. Louis to face the streaking Cardinals three more times. And that’ll be all she wrote.

You still with us?

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (67-89) have lost six games in a row and 9 of their last 10. As of today, they’re slated to pick 7th in the 2022 MLB Draft, but anything from 6th to 8th is at least possible. The Pittsburgh Pirates (58-98) are two loses away from a 100-loss season. They’ll pick either 3rd or 4th in the draft.

Game Times and Broadcasts Info

•   Tuesday, September 28th at 5:35 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Wednesday, September 29th at 5:35 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
•   Thursday, September 30th at 5:35 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Alec Mills (R) vs. Mitch Keller (R)
Game 2: Kyle Hendricks (R) vs. TBD
Game 3: Justin Steele (L) vs. TBD

Chicago Cubs

•   C – Willson Contreras
•   1B – Frank Schwindel
•   2B – Matt Duffy/David Bote
•   3B – Patrick Wisdom
•   SS – Nico Hoerner
•   LF – Nick Martini/Trayce Thompson
•   CF – Rafael Ortega
•   RF – Ian Happ

Unavailable: Jason Heyward, Manny Rodriguez, Alfonso Rivas, Robinson Chirinos, Jonathan Holder, Nick Madrigal, Jose Lobaton, P.J. Higgins, Kohl Stewart, Brad Wieck, Michael Hermosillo

Pittsburgh Pirates

•   C – Taylor Davis
•   1B – Colin Moran
•   2B – Kevin Newman
•   3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
•   SS – Cole Tucker
•   LF – Anthony Alford
•   CF – Bryan Reynolds
•   RF – Yoshi Tsutsugo

Unavailable: Jacob Stallings, Michael Chavis, JT Brubaker, Luis Oviedo, Dillon Peters, Blake Cederlind, José Soriano, Trevor Cahill, Chase De Jong, Duane Underwood Jr., Steven Brault, Bryse Wilson

By the Numbers:

Run Differential:
Cubs: -143
Pirates: -222

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.33
Pirates: 3.71

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 5.24
Pirates: 5.13

Keep An Eye Out For …

Ke’Bryan Hayes did not have the sort of season Pirates fans were hoping to see, with injuries and ineffectiveness pretty much throughout. Here in September, he is making enough contact for a .296 batting average, but without much patience (2.4 BB%) or pop (.086 ISO) his .310 OBP and .383 SLG leave a lot to be desired.

Willson Contreras has finished the season strong. After returning from the injured list, the Cubs catcher is slashing .263/.358/.509 (129 wRC+) with a 12% walk rate and 30% strikeout rate, both elevated above where you’d expect to see long term. Contreras is hitting a bit too many balls on the ground over this stretch, but he is making a lot of hard contact and using all three fields pretty evenly.

Kyle Hendricks’ last start wasn’t as much of a disaster, but against the Twins, you’d like to see more than 4 runs (3 earned) on two homers with only 3 strikeouts. Please, just give us one great start to end the year, Hendricks.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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