Cubs vs. Pirates: Series Thread (Games 32-34)
The Cubs pulled off a sweep of the Dodgers, twice walking off in extra innings and raising their record to 15-16. They also climbed aboe Cincinnati and their next opponent, the Pirates, to take 3rd place in the division. Next up, the Pirates may get some say in that matter. They come into Wrigley for a three-game series. This will be the third time these teams have faced off in 2021. They've split the season series at 3-3 so far, but they have not seen each other since April 11. The Cubs will work to build on the momentum from the sweep and stay in the thick of the division. See below for the weekend's matchups.
Game 32, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Zach Davies (1-2, 8.22 ERA)
PIT: RHP Trevor Cahill (1-3, 7.40 ERA)
Davies last pitched on May 1st, when he set his current season best for earned runs allowed in a start (only 1), but also pitched only 4.0 innings. His walk rate remains worryingly inflated, especially for a pitch-to-contact guy. A sudden turnaround, particularly in terms of painting the corners, would be welcome.
Cahill is off to a rough start with the Pirates. The peripherals suggest he's due for better outcomes, however. His strikeout and walk rates are both better than his career averages, and he continues to get ground balls on more than 50% of balls in play. Last time out, the Cardinals knocked him around for 5 earned runs on 7 hits in 5.1 innings. Cubs hitters have seen little of him.
Game 33, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.00 ERA)
PIT: RHP Will Crowe (0-1, 4.66 ERA)
The Reds offense chased Trevor Williams from his last start after only 2.2 innings pitched. Before he could flee the scene, he was tagged for 3 homeruns, 6 hits, and 6 earned runs, and he surrendered 4 walks along the way for good measure. His only other bad start on the season was the April 11 loss to the Pirates, in which that offense sprayed 10 hits in only 3.1 innings.
Will Crowe made his MLB debut last season for the Nationals. He went 0-2 in three starts that season while walking almost a batter per inning. Walks have hampered him a nearly as high a rate in the early going of 2021 as well. He made one relief appearance, against the Cubs on April 3, and has made 2 starts. He's allowed 8 walks in 9.2 innings across those 3 appearances. Last time out he lost to the Cardinals, surrendering 3 earned runs in 5 innings of work. Most Cubs will be getting their first looks at him.
Game 34, 1:20 pm central
CHC: RHP Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 6.07 ERA)
PIT: LHP Tyler Anderson (2-3, 3.24 ERA)
Hendricks pitched all 7 innings of the first half of the double-header against the Dodgers, allowing only one run on a solo homerun. Was it a rebound from a despair inducing start to the season, or was it one more appearance in an up-and-down start to the season? Cubs fans have yet to see Hendricks string together two quality starts in 2021. Adam Frazier has truly pestered Hendricks--he's hitting .478 in 23 at bats with two homeruns.
The Cubs scored 3 earned runs and served a loss to Pirates' lefty, Tyler Anderson, way back on April 3. His season record stands at 2-3, but he's allowed no more than 3 earned runs and has pitched at last 5 innings in every start of 2021. He's been a steady performer for the Pirates so far and is well-positioned to have his best season since 2018, when he went 7-9 with 32 starts with the Rockies. Rizzo is 6 for 15 with a homerun and Bryant is 6 for 14 with three dingers off of Anderson.