Series Preview: Pirates at Cubs, July 25 - July 27, 2022

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Series Preview: Pirates at Cubs, July 25 – July 27, 2022

Chicago Cubs

I was supposed to be at The Obvious Shirts store today for the Willson Contreras signing/event. And tomorrow, I was supposed to take my two nephews to their first ever game at Wrigley Field. Instead, I was (pretty directly) exposed to COVID-19 over the weekend, which means those plans have gone POOF! I just can’t risk it. Not with those two little nuggets (not with Contreras, either!).

At least, the kiddos are still going to the game with my brother. They’re going to have a blast. And I’m very happy they’re growing up Cubs fans. I wish I could see their faces when they first lay eyes on the field.

Speaking of that field … Wrigley will play host to the Pirates, who are in town for two quick games before an off-day on Thursday. These are the last two games at Wrigley Field before the Trade Deadline, so you can absolutely expect to see some tears and deep breaths (from at least Willson Contreras, who’s quite aware of what’s coming).

The Cubs head to San Francisco on Thursday for four games against the Giants, then there’s a day off before the trade deadline … which coincides with the start of a series against the Cardinals. That’s going to be brutal.

We’re Going Streaking

After building up another nine-game losing streak, the Chicago Cubs (38-57) have now won four games in a row against the Mets (1) and Phillies (3). However, they’re still trailing the Pittsburgh Pirates (40-56) by a game and a half. So. You know. Let’s maybe not change any plans too quickly.

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Adrian Sampson is finally catching a break! Sampson, 30, has made seven appearances (5 starts) for the Cubs this year, and here’s who he faced, in order: Dodgers, Braves, Cardinals, Red Sox, Brewers, Orioles (when they were on an MLB leading winning streak), and the Mets. And despite that mountain of contenders/hot teams, Sampson escaped with a 3.34 ERA over 32.1 IP. Today, he’ll face the Pirates, who are one of the weakest teams vs. RHP in MLB.

For however impressive Oneil Cruz has been in the field (and he has been impressive), it hasn’t all come together at the plate just yet. We’ve past the 100 PA mark, but Cruz is slashing just .208/.241/.415 (80 wRC+) with a 36.6% strikeout rate.

Mychal Givens gave up four earned runs to the Padres back on June 14, and he hasn’t allowed an earned run since: 0.00 ERA with 15Ks in his last 14.1 IP.

Chris Morel is so good he might actually have the makings of a legitimate run at 2022 NL Rookie of the Year. Overall, he’s slashing .283/.354/.496 (136 wRC+). And in his last six games, he’s got 10 hits including three 2Bs, three walks, and just two strikeouts!

Game Times and Broadcast Info

  • Monday, July 25 at 7:05 CT on MARQ, 670 The Score
  • Tuesday, July 26 at 1:20 CT on MARQ, MLBN, 670 The Score

Pitching Probables

Game 1: Adrian Sampson (R) vs. J.T. Brubaker (R)
Game 2: Keegan Thompson (R) vs. Bryse Wilson (R)

Chicago Cubs:

  • C – Yan Gomes/Willson Contreras
  • 1B – Alfonso Rivas/P.J. Higgins
  • 2B – Chris Morel
  • 3B – Patrick Wisdom
  • SS – Nico Hoerner
  • LF – Ian Happ
  • CF – Rafael Ortega
  • RF – Seiya Suzuki
  • DH – Willson Contreras/Rafael Ortega

Injured/Unavailable: Nick Madrigal, Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons, Wade MIley, Alec Mills, Kyle Hendricks, Adbert Alzolay, Brad Wieck, Codi Heuer, Manuel Rodriguez, Michael Hermosillo, Ethan Roberts

Pittsburgh Pirates:

  • C – Jason Delay
  • 1B – Josh VanMeter
  • 2B – Kevin Newman
  • 3B – Ke’Bryan Hayes
  • SS – Oneil Cruz
  • LF – Ben Gamel
  • CF – Greg Allen
  • RF – Cal Mitchell
  • DH – Yoshi Tsutsugo

Injured/Unavailable: Bryan Reynolds, Chase De Jonh, Nick Mears, Blake Cederlind, Roberto Perez, Max Kranick, Canaan Smith-Njigba

By the Numbers

Run Differential:
Cubs: -69
Pirates: -140

Runs Scored Per Game:
Cubs: 4.33
Pirates: 3.60

Runs Allowed Per Game:
Cubs: 5.06
Pirates: 5.07

Author: Michael Cerami

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