The Cubs (28-37) took two of three from the Giants in San Francisco to survive a 10-game road trip with a 4-6 record. They now return home for a critical series with the surprising first-place Pirates beginning Tuesday night.
The expectations for Pittsburgh (34-30) were non-existent going into 2023 but they got off to a blistering start, at one point sitting 12 games over the .500 mark. They have come down to earth since that point, but they still find themselves a game up on the Brewers in a very weak National League Central.
The Pirates have a .734 team OPS, which is just about middle of the pack in MLB. Bryan Reynolds is having a big season after signing a long-term extension and Chicago-area kid Jack Suwinski has a team-leading 13 home runs for a power-deficient roster. Andrew McCutchen is also having a nice year in his return to his original team.
The Bucs’ pitching staff is also an average unit with a team ERA of 4.05, the 12th best in baseball. Mitch Keller has become the ace of the rotation, although the Cubs will miss him this series. They will get to see former Cub Rich Hill, who is still floating lollypop curveballs at age 43. David Bednar has been outstanding in the closer role with 14 saves and a 1.25 ERA.
If Chicago wants any chance to hang around in the race, winning this series would be huge. After several years of seeing the Cubs needing to beat up on a struggling Pirates team to boost their playoff chances, the roles are now reversed. Maybe the North Siders can muck up Pittsburgh’s chances for a change, that certainly would be fun.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, June 13 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Wednesday, June 14 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
- Thursday, June 15 at 7:05pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Stroman has made three excellent starts in a row to keep the Cubs from completely falling apart.
- Seiya Suzuki missed the last two games in San Francisco with an undisclosed injury.
- Nico Hoerner had five hits over the weekend after a bit of a slump.
- Adbert Alzolay has been the one recent bright spot in a mess of a bullpen.