The Cubs return from their road trip having won just three of eight games to let the Brewers catch them for the second Wild Card spot. While the Cubs split a four-game series with the Padres, the Brewers swept the Marlins in Miami. With 16 games left in the season, all of which come against Central opponents, the Cubs are four back in the division.
Mercifully, they are back Chicago on Friday to face the dumpster fire formerly known as the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since the All-Star break, Clint Hurdle’s out-of-control club has racked up almost twice as many losses as wins and now sits firmly in fifth place behind the Reds. But baseball is a fickle game and being a spoiler always gives a last-place team something to play for.
Despite their position in the standings, the Pirates have an impressive lineup with the highest team batting average in the league. Bryan Reynolds has had an excellent under-the-radar rookie season and his .326 batting average is fourth highest in the National League. A quick check of the stats, however, shows that he’s hitting just .111 against Cubs pitching in 36 at-bats.
Jason Heyward and Kris Bryant have had resurgent weeks offensively. Following a cortisone shot in his right knee last weekend, Bryant smacked two home runs in Tuesday’s game. Heyward has a .500 on-base percentage with three home runs in his last six games.
No Cubs analysis would be complete without mention of Nico Hoerner, who in his first big league game had his first hit, first triple, and first four RBI. He heard his name chanted in an opposing team’s ballpark, but he has yet to experience a Wrigley Field welcome. He’ll get the chance this weekend.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, September 13 at 3:05 PM CDT on NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Saturday, September 14 at 1:20 PM CDT on NBC Sports Chicago, MLB Network (out-of-market only)
- Sunday, September 15 at 1:20 PM CDT on WGN
What to Watch For
- Quintana is 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA against the Pirates this season and he takes the mound for the series finale on Sunday. He’s set to face Trevor Williams, who has allowed 13 combined runs in his two previous starts against the Cubs
- Kyle Hendricks has a 1.78 home ERA versus a 4.94 ERA on the road. He gets the start for game two of the series on Saturday.
- Starling Marte is batting .353 with five home runs and 11 RBI against the Cubs this season.