The Pittsburgh Pirates’ struggles continue following a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on Friday in the first of three games against their National League Central rivals. Pittsburgh is 13-18 and has lost two straight and seven of the last 8. It is therefore not surprising that the Pirates are in the NL Central cellar 5 games behind the division-leading St Louis Cardinals.
Chicago is headed in the opposite direction as Pittsburgh. The Cubs have won four straight following their victory on Friday and have moved into a tie for third place in the NL Central with Cincinnati 2 ½ games behind the Cardinals. The Cubs have increased their team batting average from .193 to .226 over the last 10 days, but are only 22nd in that stat. The Cubs pitching staff also needs improvement as Chicago is 24th in baseball in team ERA.
Pirates struggling both at the plate and on the moundPittsburgh has struggled both at the plate and on the mound through its first 31 games of the regular season. The Pirates have a team batting average of .226, which is 21st in baseball but Pittsburgh's slugging percentage is next to last in baseball at .345 and the Pirates are 27th in runs scored with 108. Third baseman Colin Moran has a .300 batting average to lead Pittsburgh and is tied with Phillip Evans for the team lead in home runs four. Moran is the RBIs leader for the Pirates with 19. Pittsburgh has hit only 21 home runs in 31 games played.
On the mound, the Pirates are 21st in team ERA at 4.25, 18th in WHIP at 1.26 and opposing hitters are averaging .233 at the plate against Pirates pitching which is 17th. J T Brubaker has the best ERA for starting pitchers at 2.78 and is the team leader in strikeouts with 37. Pittsburgh will hand the ball to Tyler Anderson on Sunday. The Pirates' left-hander is 2-3 with a 3.24 ERA and 31 strikeouts. Anderson faced Chicago on April 8 and suffered the loss after allowing three runs on 10 hits over 5 ⅓ innings.
Injury Report: Steve Brault, Austin Davis, Ke’Bryan Hayes, Chad Kuhl, Gregory Polanco and Jose Soriano are all out.
Cubs must improve at the plateAlthough Chicago has improved its team batting average by 32 points over the last 10 days, the Cubs are still just a 22nd in team batting at .226. Chicago is 11th in slugging percentage at .403 and has scored the eighth-most runs with 149. Kris Bryant has a team-high .306 batting average and the Cubs third baseman has supplied the power with 9 home runs. Shortstop Javier Baez is second in home runs with 8 and is the leader in RBIs with 25. In their first 32 games played the Cubs have hit 41 home runs.
Chicago also needs to improve on the mound. The Cubs have the 24th best team ERA at 4.63. Chicago’s 1.43 WHIP is 28th in baseball. Opposing hitters are averaging .248 at the plate against Cubs pitching which is 24th in baseball. Adbert Alzolay is the leader in strikeouts for Chicago with 30 and veteran right-hander Jake Arrieta is the leader in wins with three. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks gets the nod on Sunday for the Cubs. Hendricks is 2-3 with a 6.07 ERA and 27 strikeouts.
Injury Report: Chicago's injury list is vast. The Cubs will be without Jake Arrieta, Ian Happ, Nico Hoerner, Jonathan holder, Trevor Megill, Shelby Miller, Austin Romine, Rowan Wick and Dan Winkler
- Chicago is 5-1 in the last six
- The Cubs are 8-2 in the last 10 at home
- Pittsburgh is 1-7 in the last eight
- The Pirates are 2-4 in the last six against Chicago