Cubs @ Pirates Series Preview: (9/1-9/3)


The Cubs have held steady in the standings despite uneven play the last two weeks. Chicago made a series of moves at the deadline to strengthen the roster around the edges. José Martinez and Cameron Maybin will hopefully be effective against left handed pitchers.

Perhaps the best news for the Cubs is the return of Kris Bryant from his left wrist injury. September is here, there are just 26 games left in the 2020 season. Every win is huge now, while each loss stings a bit more.

Next up are three games against the last-place Pirates at PNC Park. Pittsburgh has given the Cardinals and Brewers some tough games of late, but they are still very bad. The bullpen is shaky and the offense has been disappointing so far.

The Cubs playoff push starts right now, buckle up.


Tuesday: 6:05 PM CT on Marquee Sports/670AM

Wednesday: 6:05 PM CT on Marquee Sports/670AM

Thursday: 12:35 PM CT on Marquee Sports/670AM



1. Ian Happ (S) CF
2. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
3. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
4. Javier Baez (R) SS
5. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Jose Martinez (R) DH
9. Jason Kipnis (L) 2B
1. Erik Gonzalez (R) SS
2. Cole Tucker (S) CF
3. Kevin Newman (R) 2B
4. Josh Bell (S) 1B
6. Colin Moran (L) DH
7. Ke'Bryan Hayes (R) 3B
8. Adam Frazier (L) LF
9. Jose Osuna (R) RF
Starting Pitcher Matchup


Bullpen Usage



Filed under: Series Preview


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  • Strictly speaking as offensive players (swinging the bat/not defensive play), to this point in their careers, who's the better hitter, Javy Baez or Ian Happ? And also as far as future, who will have the better career offensively, Javy or Ian?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    What I appreciate about Happ, is that he sure looks like he has improved noticeably in his pitch recognition. I always liked him for how he battles and plays hard - but when he was sent down early last year, I wouldn’t have guessed he would have improved this much, in one year.

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    Cubs should have scored more than 1 run before. After the bases loaded walk Happ swung twice. Let Kuhl throw a strike before you swing.
    Here, 2 on, no out and now man on 3rd two outs, Jacob needs to drive him in.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Well, he did. One is better than none. Bryant had a good two out at bat then hit the ball hard.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    At least in second the Cubs made the error hurt by scoring one.

  • Dang did we trade Kimbrel to the Pirates?

  • It's great to have KB back.

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    Alright, I’m scoreboard watching. StL is winning 11-0 so we need a win to stay 3 games ahead.

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    So far their rookie out hit our rookie.

  • jeffress is a cold closer. Cubs played solid game defensively. Ross had a good night. Nice win.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Ross might have had a good night but it might have been better if he had gotten Lester out in the 6th. Even if they were soft hits the Pirates were hitting his first pitch and had more hits in the 6 th than the first 5 nnings.

  • In reply to stix:

    Couldn't agree more. Although the piece meal BP couldn't hold a lead again. Twice.

  • In reply to stix:

    Ok, that did happen really quick . The thing with Lester is that 'Big Jon' is good at getting out of innings with runners left on base. Anyway, Ross used every position player and all contribued. He mixed and matched his butt off to win that game.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Almost every position player to be accurate. I think Ross did a heck of a job during the time that the team was injured and struggling squeaking out important victories. Seems like he is not a rookie manager.

  • Cubs win! MIL lost, StL won, and ATL won. Only a Double Dip (trademark pending) for the playoff Magic Numbers. The new Numbers:

    Clinch a playoff berth: 21. Closest pursuer is MIL/ SFG/COL (see below)
    Clinch the division: 27.
    Clinch the nr 2 seed: 26.

    For all you Countdown nerds out there, if there are, well, any, both SFG and COL now have 19 losses, the same as MIL. Technically, the Cubs now have to end up with a better record than COL to reach the playoffs, as COL is the 3rd WC team and has a better record than 3rd place MIL, but all 3 teams are currently relevant for Countdown purposes. Fortunately, SFG and COL are playing each other, otherwise I might have to get a new abacus to keep up with the permutations. (SFG beat COL yesterday at Coors, 23-5. That game will really give distorted expected W-L records in a short season.)

  • Cubs were 7-12 since Bryant injury. 13-2 before the injury and now 1-0 since he is back. I know poor starting pitching was the major factor but it is interesting.

    Please leave Bryant at third. Let's get the starters going again and if we can get bryant, rizzo, baez and contreras hot lookout. Oh ya and put Jeffress as your closer. Let's close this thing out.

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    We need to win our division. I really don't want to play a 3 game series. I still have doubts about this team, but once in the playoffs anything can happen as we've seen. Col and StL had huge offensive games yesterday--I just don't see us doing that. We have all the
    "names"--KB, Javy, Rizzo etc but they just aren't living up to what they have done in the past. I don't understand. They are all in their prime, this is their time of the best productivity but it isn't happening here. Maybe they are due for a new start somewhere else. I know they all won't be here next year.

  • In reply to Jonathan Friedman:

    Point taken on run scoring ability but Colorado was swamped by the Giants 23-5. Cubs also are second in the majors in runs scored per game on the road. Imagine where they would be if KB,JB and Contreras and to some extent Rizzo get back to “normal”.

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    In reply to stix:

    Unfortunately, "imagining" matters none. I agree with Jonathan. I expected at least a big year or two from Bryant, Baez, and Contreras being that they are in their prime years/ages.

  • Kyle hasn’t pitched well either over his last 3-4 starts he needs to turn it around also so at least we have a a good 1-2 punch in the playoffs. Again top of the line up has got to get better.

  • The Pirates have a strong case. With both Tumpane and Bucknor, this B/S umpiring crew may be the worst in MLB.

    Still waitin' for Robo-Ump!

  • In reply to wthomson:

    This was one of those games where I was happy they had the real umps lol. Those called strikes on Moran...just wow that’s a situation where I felt the pirates manager was almost obligated to get an ejection. Just glad the cubs came away with that win when you recall big moments like that

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Akin to good and bad bounces on a golf course. They even out over time. That said the tech exists. Robo-Ump is coming in the not so distant future.

    On a somewhat related note as an old school guy I don't miss watching most pitchers hit either. I like running water and electricity at home too.

    If you're not moving forward you're moving backwards.

  • In reply to Cubmitted:

    While I'm at it last night was a great example of why I like the runner at 2B in bonus baseball. Instant drama. Can't even say I have a problem with the 7 inning double dips. Split or not. 3 batter minimum? YES. I already don't miss the never ending pen calls after Sept. expanded rosters.

    As crazy as 2020 has been some good might come of it.

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    In reply to Cubmitted:

    I totally agree with you. When I first heard about the runner on 2nd I was dismissive, but now seeing it has made me a believer. It adds drama and tension in the game like we never had in a regular extra inning game. There will be more ways to win too, and getting that run in is almost a given which was why when Hoerner didn't drive in any runs almost lost us the game.
    I don't even mind the 7 inning double headers. Now complete the renovations and add the robo umps. I am so tired of seeing missed calls, and the fact that they even out doesn't work for me--one can be on Kyle Hendricks in the WS and the other can be in a game in June. It's not the same. Change now to get the game better.

  • Any one have any info on what's going on in SB? Apparently nothing amazing. We traded for a couple lefties and yet we have Patterson, Steele, Hultzen, Marquez and Carroway down there. I guess nothing that impressed the FO.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    Honestly people won’t want to hear this but I think it’s really as simple as the front offices prioritizing what’s in each individual’s prospects best interests for their development, rather then prioritizing win now type moves by bringing up a Carraway or Marquez. Keep in mind their top pitching prospect Brailyn Marquez has never pitched at AA. They also want to develop him as a starter and not a reliever, which they should with the way Marquez finished last season on a tear. In Carraways case he’s never even pitched in the minor leagues at all keep in mind.

    It’s one thing to rush a prospect up from AA like they did with Hoerner. But he was more advanced then the rest of these players, and I frankly still think he would’ve benefited from facing AAA pitching. He’s now forced to try to make adjustments at the big league level, which isn’t easy to do. I like that he’s been at least working on hitting with a more disciplined approach lately. It’s hurt his average but I think long term this type of approach that will help him have a long career in the big leagues. I think hoerner would’ve been better suited though to work on his more patient approach at the AAA level, against lower level competition. I see people writing hoerner off on other sites, but I truly think that skipping the AAA level has hurt him. I still think he becomes better player then prime almora, because he’s willing to work on being a more selective hitter. He wasn’t practically MLB ready at the plate like Kris Bryant was as a rookie. And Nico is one of the teams more advanced prospects. Marquez and Carraway would be skipping multiple minor league levels. I’m not sure what’s going on with Hultzen you’d think he’d be in consideration, but Steele isn’t ready IMO (still has good stuff at least). Patterson is a bit closer but he’s also not ready, and doesn’t have the high end stuff that Carraway it Marquez have anyways. Patterson is also being developed as a starter and not a reliever.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    Good points all the way around. I can't believe anybody is writing off Hoerner. He's a player. I'm confident when he is up with men on base. Again last night, he spoiled several pitches and hit the ball hard. The pitcher or third baseman threw him out after the nailed the pitcher. Trainer came out to see if he could continue throwing. Just didn't get the result Nico was hoping for.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    In general I think people tend to panic too much when a young hitter goes through ups and downs. I always try to judge by process and it’s why I’ve always said that I liked happ over almora, even when almora was doing well and happ wasn’t. With Albert I just see a hitter that’s very reliant on his average, because he has limited power and rarely walks. He’s never been comfortable or willing to make the adjustments towards being a patient hitter. I hate to say it also but either you come through in big spots with RISP, or you don’t on a consistent basis. Almora just has been a guy that I had any trust in with a man on 3rd and 1 out.

    With happ he really had a promising 2017 rookie year, and I thought we had a long term starter. I was surprised that he ran into some struggles, but these things tend to happen with young talent. That’s why there’s a thing called the sophomore slump. But when you look at the tools he’s athletic with big time power, and he’s carried a really nice walk rate with good ABs. I can’t say I saw this type of season coming but I loved Ross giving happ regular ABs from day 1.

    With hoerner I think the bat to ball skills are too good for his average to stay this low. Like I said too I think he’s still getting comfortable working with a more selective approach at the major league level. I do like that Nico seems to come through with RISP, as that’s an area a similar hitter like almora has struggled. Nicos lack of power will always limit his upside. But I like the adjustments that he’s making and I still think he’ll have a long Mlb career. He has really promising defensive versatility, and again I think fans need to remember that he was supposed to be at AAA this 2020 season. It may not look like he’s making progress but the numbers show clear improvement in his plate discipline.

  • In reply to kkhiavi:

    I agree pretty much with everything you're saying. However one caveat to consider with Burl Carraway. Being a college player/relief pitcher, and his skill level and tools (fastball/big curve), coupled with the matter that there aren't scouts doing their job from inside the ballpark, no team really has the opportunity to solve him in less than a month, especially since the Cubs only face 7 different teams for the remaining schedule, and then are likely to matchup against a team they haven't faced all season in the first round. So I think it's a good environment for him to get his feet wet and maybe be a big impact BP arm in the postseason, if he's effective enough in the remainder of the regular season. Is this all a pipe dream? Yes! Of course it is. Very unlikely, as you say, he hasn't even pitched in a minor league game. But being that he's a relief pitcher with college experience, if his clock was started for this season, he'd still have the remaining options to develop next year and the following year in the minors, if that much more time is needed for him. But I think just the matter that teams won't have the opportunity to scout and adjust and solve him so quickly, he could be a useful weapon for the remaining 2020 season and postseason. Of course, we don't know what he's looking like in South Bend. If he's impressing the coaches and our FO, they will keep that under wraps and not share that info with anyone. If that's the case, I wouldn't be surprised to see him added to the roster on the last day where he'd still qualify for the post season roster. That truly doesn't even really matter though, because all it takes is an "injury" and then someone else can be added after the fact anyway. The likeliness of what I'm saying to happen? I'd put it at less than 5%. So you're saying there's a chance?

  • In reply to Cubber Lang:

    Yeah actually Michael Ernst was saying earlier in the season that Carraway would be the most likely call up, at least amongst the cubs better pitching prospects. Marquez it looks like they want to get innings down in south bend, as they’re currently developing him as a starter not a reliever.

    I can understand not bringing up guys that the team wants to get some starters innings to stretch out their arms. But carraway makes the most sense to call up, because he seems destined to be exclusively a reliever. My guess is they’re hesitant to start his clock, but more importantly he just hasn’t had any real live minor league action as a cub. I’d still be open to calling him up though if Chafin isn’t able to return. At this point I also wonder if Quintana maybe relegated to the bullpen. It’s getting too late to stretch him out as a starter with Q going on the IL again.

  • Happ, Heyward, Schwarber. 6 hits, 6 RBI's. Just another night. Since the rebuild began I can't recall the OF carrying the offensive water the way it has this season.

    The calls for trading Happ appear to have quieted. 3 years of ARB coming up. Heyward is becoming the hitter most thought he could be. 3 more years already locked up. Scwarber has become a more than adequate glove in LF with an above average arm. The threat his bat poses doesn't need comment. Safe to say Almora's days on the 27 man roster appear to over for now. Sans an injury. An extended stay at AAA has to be considered going forward. Why trade low?

    If the usually reliable INF bats get going and the pitching comes together (especially the pen) anything is possible. 25 games to get it done.

  • Q back to IL

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