Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, June 20-June 23, 2022

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Series Preview: Cubs at Pirates, June 20-June 23, 2022

Chicago Cubs

The Cubs next ten games are all taking place in the NL Central, starting with a seven-game road trip against the Pirates (for 4) and Cardinals (3), before heading back home to face the Reds (3). There’s an off-day mixed in there after the Cardinals series, but then the next scheduled day off doesn’t come until July 11.

In other words, that’s just one day off in a 30 game stretch!

We’re Going Streaking

The Chicago Cubs (25-41) somehow managed to stop their ten game losing streak against the red-hot Braves, taking two of three from Atlanta at Wrigley Field. They’re 1.5 games behind the Pirates in fourth place of the NL Central.

The Pittsburgh Pirates (26-39) have lost 8 of their last ten games and are exactly what they were expected to be this season.

Hot or Not and What to Watch

Christopher Morel had a quiet series against the Braves (1-12, 6Ks) and has been just barely above the league average in June, which is not particularly impressive this season: .250/.291/.458 (103 wRC+); 31.3K%. He’s still making hard contact, but his launch angle has disappeared and so he’s carrying a 65.3% groundball rate this month.

It’s the series of young pitching for the Chicago Cubs, with rookies Caleb Kilian and Matt Swarmer going today and tomorrow, both coming off short, rough outings. Followed by Justin Steele and Keegan Thompson on Wednesday and Thursday. Thompson had hit a REALLY rough patch before absolutely exploding with one of the best starts of his career against the Braves: 6.0 IP, 2H, 0ER, 2BB, 9Ks. Meanwhile, Steele has strung together four really nice starts

Oneil Cruz is a 6’7″ shortstop and top-10 overall prospect making his 2022 debut for the Pirates this weekend. Here’s what Brett had to say about him earlier today:

The Pirates are finally bringing up shortstop prospect Oneil Cruz today, which means the Cubs get the top ten overall prospect first. If you don’t recall, Cruz is the 6’7″ freak of an athlete (yes, he can play shortstop at that size) who hits the ball as hard as anyone in baseball. He had a weird time at Triple-A this year, struggling badly at first (after a very brief cup in the big leagues late last year), and then hitting pretty well the last month and a half. What’s been particularly weird about it, though, is that he’s become like a mega contact guy (over that successful month and a half, the strikeout rate is just 17.6%). That wasn’t always his bag, especially given the absurd power when he lets it all hang out. You’ve gotta believe there was some specific work going on there for him in the final polishing before the big leagues, and now maybe the 23-year-old is in a better position to succeed.

Game Times and Broadcast Info

  • Monday, June 23 at 6:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, June 24 at 6:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
  • Wednesday, June 25 at 6:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
  • Thursday, June 26 at 11:35am CT on MARQ, 670 The Score

Pitching Probables

Game 1: Caleb Kilian (RHP) vs. JT Brubaker (RHP)
Game 2: Matt Swarmer (RHP) vs. Roansy Contreras (RHP)
Game 3: Keegan Thompson (RHP) vs. Zach Thompson (RHP)
Game 4: Justin Steele (LHP) vs. Jose Quintana (LHP)

Chicago Cubs:

  • C – Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Alfonso Rivas
  • 2B – Jonathan Villar
  • 3B – Patrick Wisdom
  • SS – Nico Hoerner
  • LF – Ian Happ
  • CF – Christopher Morel
  • RF – Jason Heyward
  • DH – Rafael Ortega

Injured/Unavailable: Michael Hermosillo, Seiya Suzuki, Nick Madrigal, Frank Schwindel, Drew Smyly, Marcus Stroman, Wade Miley, David Bote, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Codi Heuer, Manuel Rodriguez, Ethan Roberts

Pittsburgh Pirates:

  • C – Tyler Heineman
  • 1B – Michael Chavis
  • 2B – Diego Castillo
  • 3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
  • SS – Oneil Cruz
  • LF – Jack Suwinski
  • CF – Bryan Reynolds
  • RF – Cal Mitchell
  • DH – Daniel Vogelbach

Injured/Unavailable: Duane Underwood Jr., Tucapita Marcano, Jake Marisnick, Yoshi Tsutsugo, Ben Gamel, Josh VanMeter, Dillon Peters, Nick Mears, Blake Cederlind, Greg Allen, Kevin Newman, Roberto Perez, Canaan Smith-Jjigba

By the Numbers

Run Differential:
Cubs: -70
Pirates: -104

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.17
Pirates: 3.40

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 5.23
Pirates: 5.00

Author: Michael Cerami

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