OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: This preview goes on the assumption that the Cubs and Pirates won’t engage in the current MLB Pandemic Panic Created by Idiot Marlins Going to Clubs and cancel any games this weekend.
The Pirates (2-4) head to Chicago to take on the Cubs (4-2) in a three-game series at Wrigley Field this weekend. Some are touting this as a Tale of Two Rookie Managers, without taking into consideration that David Ross was handed a very different team than what Derek Shelton got.
I still haven’t changed my opinion that this is a tire-kicking year for the Bucs. I’m not going to fault Shelton for employing the “throw players at the lineup and see who sticks” method, although I’m still giving major side-eye to the Cole Tucker in the Outfield Experiment. Colin Moran and Phillip Evans’s bats have been nice surprises, and despite a rather long oh-fer at the plate, Bryan Reynolds’s incredible defense shows some nice development. Middle relief is still a problem, as is Joe Musgrove and Trevor Williams’s tendencies to give up homers in otherwise decent outings. Nick Burdi, though, is making a case for himself as closer, which will be interesting once Keone Kela comes back.
The Cubs eked out a barely over .500 season last year, and with the likes of Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Javier Báez among others on the roster—and a payroll literally triple what the Bucs are shelling out—that was a disappointment. Like Shelton, Ross plays with his lineup. Also like Shelton, Ross’s bullpen isn’t too reliable, although his starters are. As of right now, the pitching matchups will be Trevor Williams vs. Yu Darvish tonight, Mitch Keller vs Tyler Chatwood tomorrow, and either Steven Brault or Chad Kuhl vs. Jon Lester on Sunday.
The game thread will be up later and I’ll be on it, so come hang out!