The Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs wrap up their weekend series from Wrigley Field on Sunday. The Pirates are trying to avoid the three-game sweep.
Not A Good Start
After suffering a 10–4 loss against the Cubs in their last outing, the Pirates are now 44-47 this season. After giving up seven runs in the first inning, the Pirates were never able to regroup, making them 5-5 over their last 10 games with back-to-back losses against the Cubs. The Pirates are now in fourth place in the NL Central, 4.5 games back from the first-place Cubs.
Trevor Williams will be getting the start for the Pirates on Sunday. Williams is 3-2 with a 4.54 ERA and 57 strikeouts. This will be ‘Williams’ first start since being reinstated from the paternity list, which made him miss his last start before the All-Star break.
Josh Bell has been absolutely fantastic this season for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 26-year-old first baseman currently leads the Pirates with his .301 batting average, 27 home runs, and his 84 RBI. Pittsburgh has been waiting for Bell to have the exact season that he is having; now they just need some of the other players to catch up and contribute on the same level.
The National League Central is tight enough that even with their mediocre season so far, the Pirates have just as much of a chance as any team in the division to take it and run in the season’s second half.
Ahead Of The Pack
The Cubs are now 49-43 this season after starting their second half of the season with two wins over the Pirates. Chicago now leads the tight division by 1.5 games over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs are also 5-5 over their last 10 games; however, they will be playing the Pirates at home once again where they are 31-16 this season. The Cubs have gotten off to the start they needed in the second half of the season; now they hope to create some separation between them and the rest of the division.
Chicago will be starting lefty Jose Quintana in their next outing against the Pirates. The 30-year-old has been up and down all season long. He currently holds a 6-7 record with a 4.19 ERA and 84 strikeouts. Quintana won his last two outings against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, allowing just three runs over both games. Quintana has proven to be a good rotational guy for the Cubs over last season. He will look to make a bigger impact to finish out this season and steal some wins for Chicago.
The Cubs have plenty of star power of their team, and ‘that’s who has led them so far this season. 2018 NL MVP runner-up Javier Baez is on pace for another great season, as he currently leads the team in home runs with 22 and runs batted in with 63. Their former MVP, Kris Bryant, has gotten his game back on track and leads the team with his .293 batting average.
What to expect
The Cubs have won the first two games of the series and will play again at home where they have been dominant so far. With the momentum they have going, I believe the Cubs will take this game as well and extend their win streak to three.