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Pirates enter four-game series with Cubs following series victory hosting Cardinals

The Pirates are 0-6 against the Cubs this season.

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Pirates have experienced an up-and-down 2023 season. Following a 20-8 start highlighted by solid pitching, clutch hitting, the return of Andrew McCutchen, and contract extensions for manager Derek Shelton and outfielder Bryan Reynolds, the Bucs are 37-63 since.

In mid-June, the Pirates recalled 2021 No. 1 overall pick Henry Davis from Triple-A Indianapolis and evoked a youth movement, similar to the Cincinnati Reds, that brought optimism and excitement to the ballclub. The success has not been as immediate compared to the Reds. Still, young players like catcher Endy Rodriguez, infielder Liover Peguero, and others have shown flashes of being dependable in the box and across the diamond to provide hope for a bright future in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates won the first two of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at PNC Park this week, highlighted by an 11-1 trouncing on Monday. In the victory, Rodriguez and Peguero combined for three walks, four hits, and three RBI. Former Cardinal Johan Oviedo delivered five innings of one-run ball Tuesday in a 6-3 victory, which saw Andrew McCutchen hit his 299th career home run off Adam Wainwright. McCutchen begins the series looking to enter the history books as the 19th player in MLB history to amass 2,000 hits, 300 home runs, 1,000 RBI, 1,000 runs, and 200 stolen bases.

St. Louis salvaged the final game by a 6-4 final score after young starter Luis Ortiz gave up five in the first two innings. Ortiz made his first start since July 4 and allowed five walks and seven hits in 3.1 innings pitched.

Playing top prospects hasn’t gone entirely smooth for the 4th-place Bucs, who entered Wednesday nine games back of the Cubs for second. Davis is on the IL with a hand injury, 2020 first-round pick Nick Gonzales was sent back to Triple-A once he cooled off from a tremendous first week in the bigs, and 2019 first-rounder Quinn Priester owns an ERA over nine.

Following Wednesday afternoon’s game, the probably starting pitchers for the four-game series in Pittsburgh remain a mystery. Mitch Keller is in line to start Thursday but hasn’t been made official by the club. The Pirates will face lefty Justin Steele (2.80 ERA in 132 innings) in the series opener.

The Pirates are 57-70 overall and looking to take another series against a divisional opponent. Chicago is 6-0 against the Pirates this season, sweeping the team at Wrigley Field in June and at PNC Park in July.