NL Central rivals Chicago Cubs (4-4) and Pittsburgh Pirates (2-6) will play a rubber match to decide the winner of this weekend’s three game series. The Cubs took the series opener on Friday 4-2 on the strength of Javier Baez’s sixth inning two run homer. The Cubs would tack on another run in the eighth to secure their third win in a row against the Pirates.
Pittsburgh ended that streak yesterday, blasting the Cubs 8-2. Mitch Keller bounced back from a rough first start, allowing just a single run in five innings. The Pirates scored seven runs in the second inning to chase Zach Davies early, and tax the Chicago bullpen. Four Chicago pitchers combined to work the final 7.1 innings of the game. With the win, Pittsburgh ended its six game losing streak.
On the injury front, Chicago is fully healthy, while Pittsburgh is missing third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who was placed on the 10-day IL last Wednesday.
Williams Faces Former Teammates as He Looks to Build on His Solid First StartTrevor Williams was really good in his first start, pitching five perfect innings before allowing a pair of runs in the sixth inning against the Brewers. He allowed just two hits and walked two while striking out six in his Cubs debut. Now, Williams will have to face his former teammates in the stadium he spent his first five seasons.
While Williams was with the Pirates, his best season was in 2018, when we went 14-10 with a 3.11 ERA, fanning 126 batters in 170.2 IP. Last season, Williams’s ERA ballooned to 6.18 as he went 2-8 in 11 starts, earning a 1.572 WHIP and a 6.30 FIP.
Over the past six games, the Cubs have slashed .169/.277/.371 as a team, hitting 10 home runs while scoring 20 runs on 30 hits. The Cubs have a .174 BABIP over that span, and have struck out 54 times in 178 at bats.
Kris Bryant leads the Cubs with a .250/.357/.625 slash line. Bryant has hit two home runs and driven in three runs thus far. Javier Baez is the only other Cub regular hitting above the Mendoza line. Baez has slashed .200/.259/.440 with two home runs and five RBI.
The Cubs bullpen has been strong. They have allowed just seven runs in 26.1 innings of work, striking out 39 while walking 15. The collective ERA is 2.39, and the collective WHIP is 1.139.
Brubaker Hopes To Lead Pirates to First Series Win of 2021JT Brubaker started his sophomore season with a four inning, one run, three hit performance against the Reds in his first start. The Pirates ended up losing the game, but Brubaker did not factor in the decision. The righthander walked four and struck out six, throwing 82 pitches in four innings. He will need to be more efficient against the Cubs today if he’s going to lead the Bucs to their first series win of 2021.
Brubaker started against the Cubs twice a season ago. He allowed three earned runs and 11 hits in 11.2 innings. He walked two and struck out 14 last season.
The Pirates are going to need their bats to stay awake to give Brubaker some run support, something he severely lacked last season. Thus far, the Pirates have slashed .192/.256/.337 with six homers, 14 runs scored, and 59 strikeouts as a team over the last seven days.
Individually, the Pirates are led by Phillip Evans, who hit his third home run of the season yesterday in the 8-2 win. Evans has slashed .368/.429/.737 to start the season. Colin Moran has slashed .280/.379/.600, and has hit two home runs and driven in three.
Pittsburgh has had trouble in the bullpen, which means Brubaker needs to go deep in this one. The pen lost a 2-1 lead against Cincinnati for Brubaker last time out. As a unit, they have a 6.67 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP, giving up 22 earned runs while striking out 36 in 29.2 innings.
- Chicago: Cubs are 1-5 in their last 6 games vs. a right-handed starter.
- Chicago: N/A