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Series preview: Pirates return to Wrigley to gain edge in season series vs. Cubs

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Your Buccos are in the Windy City this weekend.

Chicago Cubs v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Pittsburgh Pirates (13-17) vs. Chicago Cubs (15-16), May 7-9, 2021

Location: Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

TV: AT&T Sports Pittsburgh

Radio: KDKA-AM

Cubs SB Nation Site: Bleed Cubbie Blue


After their season-opening series last month, the Pirates managed just one win out of three at Wrigley. They’ll look to get a better result this weekend in their return.

Here’s a look at what we can expect this weekend:

Projected Starters

Friday, 2:20 p.m. EST

Trevor Cahill (1-3, 7.40 ERA) vs. Zach Davies (1-2, 8.22 ERA)

Saturday, 2:20 p.m. EST

Wil Crowe (0-1, 4.66 ERA) vs. Trevor Williams (2-2, 6.00 ERA)

Sunday, 2:20 p.m. EST

Tyler Anderson (2-3, 3.24 ERA) vs. Kyle Hendricks (2-3, 6.07 ERA)

Projected Lineups

Pirates

  1. Adam Frazier (2B)
  2. Bryan Reynolds (CF)
  3. Erik Gonzalez (3B)
  4. Colin Moran (1B)
  5. Jacob Stallings (C)
  6. Ka’ai Tom (LF)
  7. Hunter Owen (RF)
  8. Kevin Newman (SS)
  9. Starting Pitcher

Cubs

  1. Joc Pederson (LF)
  2. Kris Bryant (3B)
  3. Anthony Rizzo (1B)
  4. Willson Contreras (C)
  5. Javier Baez (SS)
  6. Jason Heyward (RF)
  7. David Bote (2B)
  8. Jake Marisnick (CF)
  9. Starting Pitcher

We spoke to Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue to gain some insight ahead of this weekend’s three-game set with the Cubs. Here’s what he had to say:

The Cubs and Pirates split six games earlier this year, a result that (at least to Cubs fans) was somewhat unexpected, especially having the Bucs outscore them 26-19 over the six games.

The Cubs offense has perked up since then; they’ve scored 12+ runs four times in the last three weeks, and are currently on a roll, having swept the defending World Series champion Dodgers at Wrigley this week.

All of this has been done with one starter (Jake Arrieta) currently on the injured list, two others (Kyle Hendricks and Zach Davies) with ERAs over 7, and several important hitters (Joc Pederson, Ian Happ, Jason Heyward) with OPS’s in the .500s.

So how are the Cubs doing this? A lot of it is key contributions from guys who were signed as afterthoughts this spring, Jake Marisnick and Matt Duffy. Marisnick is hitting .297/.381/.811 (11-for-37) with four home runs over his last 14 games, and Duffy, .379/.500/.448 (11-for-29) over his last 11 with seven walks.

Craig Kimbrel, after a horrific 2019 and 2020 with the Cubs, has been nearly lights-out this season. He’s allowed just one earned run in 13 innings this year and has struck out 21 of the 50 hitters he’s faced.

You’ll see Hendricks and Davies try to right their ships this weekend; if their soft-tossing weak-contact style is on, perhaps those ERAs can drop out of orbit. Trevor Williams, the former Pirate who seemed a bit over-amped when he threw in PNC Park in April, gets the Saturday start. Too bad, we missed by just one day having a Trevor (Williams) vs. Trevor (Cahill) matchup.

Looking forward to an enjoyable weekend of baseball. As can be typical for Chicago weather in early May, it’s going to be chilly (low 50s) with the wind blowing in at Wrigley.