The Chicago Cubs responded Wednesday afternoon a day after getting pushed around by the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cubs took a 7-0 loss but quickly returned the favor with a comfortable 8-4 win on Wednesday afternoon. Things were getting a little uneasy for Cubs’ fans after the Brewers juiced the bases and cut the lead to 7-4, though. They were able to get out of the jam with 1 out, though, and the Brewers didn’t do much after the 7th inning.
Kyle Hendricks played well enough despite getting a little erratic in the 7th. He couldn’t make it through the inning, but otherwise pitched a quality game. Jon Lester is looking to reclaim his spot as the ace of the pitching staff tonight. He’s gone through some rocky waters lately, with some of the worst pitching we’ve seen out of Lester in a while. If there is any time to hit a rut, though, it would be right now before the postseason draws closer.
They’re going to need Lester playing at full-speed come the end of September. The postseason comes down to pitching, and an arm like Lester is going to be needed in the postseason. Darvish is a major question mark. Reports indicate that he will begin his return stint in the minor leagues beginning this Sunday.
However, even if he does return to the majors at full strength, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be playing at an optimal level. Darvish did not come up big for the Dodgers in the postseason a year ago. A lot of Dodgers’ fans put the blame on him in the World Series. The offense is there for the Cubs, but they still need somebody to step up and be an ace. We’ll see what Lester gives us in Pittsburgh on Thursday. The Pirates will counter with former Yankee, Ivan Nova. Get our free Cubs vs. Pirates pick below.
Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Pick
Jon Lester (12-5, 3.89 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (7-6, 4.42 ERA)
The Pirates passed up an opportunity on the road in Minnesota to pull closer to a wildcard. Instead, the Twins won two of two games and the Pirates third loss in a row. Pittsburgh is in some trouble now that they are 5.5 back of the final wildcard. They have Dodgers, Rockies, and Cardinals ahead of them waiting in line. The Phillies currently have the final spot in the play-in game. Pittsburgh have shown some resiliency in their first season since 2009 without Andrew McCutchen, but I would take all four of those teams ahead of the Pirates as it is right now.
They have a chance to take advantage of a Jon Lester who hasn’t gotten anything right recently. He enters with an ERA of 11.20 and a 2.27 WHIP in his last three outings. You really don’t see that from a pitcher of Lester’s caliber ever. He went into the break with an ERA of 2.58 and it’s risen to 3.89. Lester has been sharper on the road with a 3.48 ERA compared to a 4.23 at Wrigley. He’s also been better at night with an ERA of 3.23 vs 4.48 during the day. Nova hasn’t been at his best lately as well. He posted an ERA of 5.40, 1.67 WHIP, and .368 OBA in his previous three showings.
Lester gets a Pirates team who averaged just 3 runs per game in the final three games of their nine-game road trip. They return home only to have the Cubs waiting for them. After a lengthy trip on the road, the Cubs aren’t a team most want to see in their own house. The Cubs are 5th in the majors with 4.88 runs per game, while Pittsburgh are 14th with 4.55 per game. This is likely going to shape up to be a good game, but I like the Cubs to ultimately come out on top, with Lester finally locating his pitches.