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Series Preview: Cubs vs. Pirates

Written by , Posted in General

Tonight, the division leading Cubs (10-9) begin a three game series against the fourth place Pittsburgh Pirates (8-10) at PNC Park. The boys in blue are still scuffling a tad. Our starting pitching has not shown the same zip from last year. Jake Arietta and Kyle Hendricks, in particular, have lost some velocity from last season, though the former looked a little sharper in Cincinnati on Saturday. Our offensive stars are not hitting on all cylinders, with Kyle Schwarber, Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist producing substantially less than expected so far. And our relief corps, with the important exception of Wade Davis, still has not found its rhythm.

Still, the Cubs are in first place and will have the opportunity this week to avenge the three game sweep that the Pirates put on them in Wrigley three series ago. The Pirates, of course, will be without their best player, Starlin Marte. This past weekend, Marte began serving an 80 game suspension for violating the league’s rules regarding the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. Even without Marte, the Pirates are still dangerous. They just took two of three from the Yankees. Watch out for former MVP Lawrence McCutcheon, who looks to be regaining a bit of his old form.

The pitching match up tonight is Cubs left hander Brett Anderson (1-0, 4.40 ERA) vs Pirates righty Chad Kuhl (1-1, 2.60). Kuhl features an effective sinker that appears to NL hitters to be traveling at about 94 mph. Average in the league is about 92 mph.

As of this writing, the pitchers for the games on Tuesday and Wednesday have not been announced, but unless Joe Maddon surprises us, Hendricks will pitch for the Cubs on Tuesday and Jon Lester will go on Wednesday. I like our chances to take at least two games of this three game set.

As with every visit to PNC Park, take some time during this series to notice what a beautiful ball park it is. PNC shows well on television too. Since re-inventing itself a few decades ago, Pittsburgh is a city with a lot to offer and PNC measures up to the best of the rest of the city. The only thing about it that is not first rate is the name. In the late 90s, PNC Bank purchased the rights for 20 years at about $1.5 million per year. That deal is about to expire. I, for one, am rooting for the next name to have a little more pizzazz. How about Forbes Field? Pretty sure that name is available.

  • Mark_from_Toronto

    Lawrence McCutcheon? Any relation to Andrew?

    • Brad Lyerla

      haha. sorry. was a last second job and the proofreading suffered. funny, because I love andrew.

      • cap’n realist

        Those 4x 1,000 yard rushers are a tough out. Even in their 60’s.

      • Brad Lyerla

        I had a post half written on Tom Verducci’s new book. But Joe wanted a series preview. So I slapped one together. Oh well.

  • Bryzzo1744

    How about Heinz ponies up just like they did for the Terrible Towel?

  • Dork

    The reason for the last switch of Lester and Arrieta in the rotation was specifically for this series in which the Pirates have not hit left handers very well. Hopefully Anderson can get off to a good start tonight. The opposite is true of Mr Kuhl who takes the mound for the Pirates. Lefties have done very well and including Anderson the cubs have 6 lefties in the lineup or 5 of 8 excluding the pitcher if you prefer. The cubs can actually get another lefty in by playing Jay and moving ZO to 2B. That moves Javy to the bench and it seems like they like Javy playing second when the groundball pitcher in Anderson is in.

    • Brad Lyerla

      good points

  • Doug S.

    Sports venue names are….
    The Kingdome in Seattle made some sense, it was in King County. Safeco took some getting used to but now it’s just a name. Wrigley became that as well long ago. Who thinks of chewing gum when they go there? Beer and car sponsor names seem to get an easy pass. The white sox park name? Not so much. I don’t know what a Fenway is, but something tells me I may find out.

    Loved the suggestion by Bill Scheft after the Enron episode for the Houston park – Bankrupt One Ballpark.

    • Brad Lyerla

      then the juicebox. liked that one.

    • Bryzzo1744

      After the TARP bailout in 2008-09, there was a writer who suggested Citi Field should be called Taxpayer Field

    • Bryzzo1744

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenway_Park

      It was named after the neighborhood. I never knew that.

      • Doug S.

        CAPS to the rescue. Thanks.

      • Bryzzo1744

        I’ll be reading the article on fens tonight.

  • Sherm

    If Pontius Management buys the stadium rights, they’d be the Pontius Pirates.

    • cap’n realist

      If South Butt clothing bought the rights….they’d be, well, you know. I’ll leave it for Seymour.

      • Sherm

        If Off bug spray got it…could call the place “Buc Off”

  • Sherm

    If Jack Links did, it could be Jack Buc Stadium

    Maybe the Army would invest. Could be the Army Pitts.

  • cap’n realist

    Tomorrow’s leverage index is going to look like the approval rating index for s’mores.

    • Bryzzo1744

      Mmmmmmmmmmm…Smores. How do you like yours? I like them burned

      • Doc Raker

        Homer Simpson Episode 438

      • Bryzzo1744

        I could have called them smoes like Buzz did in Toy Story 2, but I decided not to. I did the homer drool because I had a camping trip last weekend.

  • Doc Raker

    Has anyone seen that they took the hill and flag pole out of Houston’s Ballpark.

    • Bryzzo1744

      It was planned a couple yeses ago.

  • Doc Raker

    Jason Heyward is hitting the ball hard consistently, this is such good news for the Cubs and Jason. He worked hard during the off season and he has gone from being one of the worst hitters in 2016 baseball to one of the best hitters in 2017 so far. Not only that but he kept his dignity throughout his difficult 2016 season even with a drunk Bill Murray in the World Series locker room interview slighting him. Good job Jason, I have a lot of respect for people who work hard to overcome adversity, if you consider earning $160M adversity.