It’s embarrassing. There’s no other way to put it. Sure, I’m being blunt, but how else should this be approached?
The Chicago Cubs have dominated the Pittsburgh Pirates all season. How bad? Following a 14-1 trouncing to begin a three-game series, with eight runs scored in the bottom of the 8th, the Cubs continued their onslaught against the 2023 Bucs.
Pittsburgh is now 1-10 against the Cubs this season. The Pirates are 69-71 against everyone else. Facing off against each other, the results haven’t been close.
13th: 11-3 road loss 14th: 10-6 road loss 15th: 7-2 road loss
19th: 8-0 home loss 20th: 4-0 home loss 21st: 9-3 home loss
24th: 5-4 home loss 25th: 2-1 home win! 26th: 10-6 home loss
27th: 10-1 home loss
Monday: 14-1 road loss
Entering Wednesday, the Cubs have outscored the Pirates 89-28. Yes, you read that right. Chicago posted 61 more runs through 11 games. 61!!
The real disaster in the story dates back to 2022. The Pirates and Reds finished tied for last place in the division at 62-100. Pittsburgh, thankfully, was statistically worse than Cincinnati and placed in the top three of draft lottery odds, which the Bucs won and landed Paul Skenes.
But today is a new today, and well, not much has changed in the Steel City while the Cubs and Reds bask in the glory of a pennant race. Chicago ended 74-88 last year but now owns possession of the final wild card spot by half a game and sits seven games over .500 (79-72).
The Reds stunned everyone by leading the NL Central for a considerable portion early season play and is in line to finish with a winning record, already exceeding last year’s win total by 17 (79-75).
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, the Pirates have steadily improved their own win total by eight (70-81) but struggle against their own division. The Bucs are 21-26 against the Cubs, Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and struggling St. Louis Cardinals. It’s even worse on the road, where the team has won only a third of its game (7-14).
Players like Endy Rodriguez, Liver Peguero, Carmen Mlodzinski, and others are exciting but need to flourish in big moments. They’ve shown signs, but sustained performances are easier said than done.
The ultimate difference? Money. The Cubs had the finances to sign stars Cody Bellinger and Dansby Swanson, significant difference makers compared to previous teams. On the other hand, Jameson Taillon received a four-year, $68 million deal and has struggled mightily to the tune of an ERA over five.
There’s no denying the Cubs have a different path to success than the Pirates, who can sign solid free agents like Carlos Santana but no one the caliber of Swanson. It further ups the importance of trades, drafting, and development. Money is surely not the only thing. The Cubs have developed their own young players, too. It’s not an excuse either, just the honest truth. The harsh reality is the Pirates are in year four of their current rebuild while the Cubs retooled in six months.
In reality, the Pirates have made strides in becoming the team they want to be in 2024. 75 (or more) wins would be a win in the eyes of many and signify the young Bucs can truly arrive next season. Looking COMPETITIVE against the Cubs is another step towards ultimate change, something that shouldn’t be as hard as it has been. At least .500 ball would suffice…