RECORDS: Cubs 32-33 Pirates 30-36
GAMETIMES: Friday 6:05, Saturday 7:15, Sunday 12:35
TV: WGN Friday, Fox Saturday, CSN Sunday
STILL DRUNK FROM THE PENS PARADE: Rum Bunter
Sorry if this preview is a little clipped. I thought it was time to put myself on the case for the Cubs and am out here in Pittsburgh to see if we can’t get something started. I AM THE FIRESTARTER.
This was/is supposed to be the soft part of the schedule. Thanks to John Lackey, Jacob deGrom and the Cubs pen, it hasn’t started out that way. Because you shouldn’t be losing to two of three to the Mets. You shouldn’t get swept by the Pirates either, but the Cubs managed that trick in April as well. At some point the “shoulds” should start matching up to “what actually is.” I for one am getting tired of waiting, and now seems as good of a time as any to line things up.
Because it’s not like things are going much better for the Bucs. Or at least they weren’t. They’ve won four of five after losing four in a row to the Orioles and Marlins, including taking a series from the Rockies which the Cubs have made look Houdini-like. They still are six under and are 2.5 games behind the Cubs in the boat race that the NL Central has been all season.
This might not be the time to be catching this lineup. Over the past two weeks Josh Harrison is hitting .348. McCutchen is hitting .391. Elias Diaz filled in for an injured Cervelli and hit .387. Mercer? .386. Freese? .349. We could keep going, but it’s hard enough right now being a fan. You don’t need to see more.
The rotation got a boost with the return of Jameson Taillon, who will go Sunday to get his easy win after Lackey gives up four homers and spends most of his start yelling at the fucking parrot. It’s needed it, because other than Ivan Nova this has been something of a fertile ground for shooting rats. Gerrit Cole’s strikeouts have continued to dwindle and he’s having the same home run issues that Lackey is having, giving up 1.62 per nine innings. Kuhl also has unimpressive strikeout numbers but his tactic is to not find the plate instead of constantly give up a beer-splasher. Trevor Williams is supposed to be a control/grounder guy but has basically gotten torched in his seven starts to the tune of a 4.82 FIP. It’s not pretty, and my guy Tyler Glasnow was nowhere near ready for primetime.
The pen has been ok but not enough to save the rotation and an offense that has been spotty. Filpe Rivero gets everyone out, and Juan Nicasio hasn’t been far behind. Tony Watson has been just enough at closer, and newcomer Jhan Marinez has helped out as well. But the rest of the crew in police lineup filler material, and the rotation hasn’t been able to consistently carry the mail straight to the guys at the end for the Pirates to go anywhere.
There comes a point where you can’t say “we caught them at the wrong time” any longer. The Pittsburgh bats may be scorching, but the Cubs are running out of fuck-around time. Taillon has already cuffed them around once this season though, and Nova can be a tough egg to crack. Again, that’s got to stop mattering and the Cubs just need to be THE CUBS for the first time this year. Lord only knows it’s gettin’ late…