The Cubs (78-72) picked the absolute worst time to go on a five-game losing streak. Getting swept in Arizona dropped them into a tie with the Reds for the third and final spot in the National League Wild Card race, but Cincinnati owns the tie-breaker. The offense, which came out of the All-Star break red-hot, has gone ice-cold and the overworked bullpen is suffering injuries that are proving very costly.
They now find themselves in a position where they must start winning again to stay in the race. The first important test in the final 12-game sprint to the playoffs starts Tuesday night as the Pirates (70-80) come to Wrigley for three.
Pittsburgh has gone 12-7 since they lost three out of four to the Cubs at the end of August. Bryan Reynolds and Ke’Bryan Hayes are still the most dangerous hitters in the lineup, and Chicago kid Jack Suwinski has increased his team-leading home run total to 25.
The Cubs will have to see Pirate ace Mitch Keller again after he threw eight shutout innings against them in August. Closer David Bednar is up to 36 saves and has a sparkling 1.86 ERA, so it’s best not be trailing late in any of these games.
Just about any team could beat the North Siders the way they’ve played recently, and this Pirates team is no exception. The Cubs could very well recapture their form and run off a string of wins, but it’s going to take a lot to get that done and they’ve got no room for mistakes with just 12 games left.
It’s officially put up or shut up time, so the Cubs have to play better or they are going home in two weeks. The gauntlet has been thrown down, let’s see if they come out on the other side intact.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, September 19 at 6:40pm CT on Marquee.
- Wednesday, September 20 at 6:40pm CT on Marquee.
- Thursday, September 21 at 6:40pm CT on Marquee.
What to Watch For
- Ian Happ performed pretty well in the leadoff spot the past two games, collecting five hits and a walk.
- The Cubs are skipping Jameson Taillon‘s turn in the rotation after he struggled against the Rockies. It’s unclear if he will be used out of the bullpen.
- Marcus Stroman appeared in two games against the Diamondbacks out of the ‘pen after coming off the injured list.
- Cody Bellinger has cooled off during the Cubs’ losing streak, going 4-for-23 in his last six games.