The Chicago Cubs continue their road trip in Pittsburgh against the Pirates this weekend. It’s been well-documented how abysmal they’ve been on the road in 2019 and that was the recurring theme for them in Philadelphia against the Phillies. The Cubs were swept in a three-game series, concluding with a walk-off grand slam by Bryce Harper on Thursday night.
Pedro Strop got his team into trouble again, as he allowed 2 earned runs with no outs and Derek Holland followed his lead to finish the game off with an at-bat against Harper. For the issues he’s had striking out at the plate, Harper’s WPA trails only Christian Yelich of the Brewers. His walk-off slam propelled that number even higher.
For the Cubs, their offense had a hangover against the Pirates last night, as they generated nothing against Joe Musgrove until getting to him in the 8th inning by putting a runner on 3rd with 1 out. The performance by Kyle Hendricks was a welcome sign, as was the effort of Yu Darvish on Thursday night. It’s a hard bullet to take when you get production out of Darvish and Hendricks then get nothing in return, but credit to Hendricks for keeping the Cubs in the game a night ago.
He gets the game ball for keeping them in the game to give Tony Kemp an opportunity for a go-ahead triple. Trusting the Cubs’ bullpen to close the game out in the 9th was a little too much to ask, though. Jon Lester will get the call for the Cubs on Saturday at PNC Park.
Lester was desperate for a bounce back performance in his last outing, and he wasn’t perfect, but was much better than he was previously pitching. The confidence in his step seemed to be back. Conversely, the steady Steven Brault will counter for the Pirates. The Pirates will be seeking just their fourth win since August 3rd, as they’ve gone 3-9 in their previous 12 outings. One of those wins came last night on a walk-off walk. Head below for our free Cubs vs. Pirates pick.
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Steven Brault has had a standout career in his four-year career, but he’s at least been consistently average. Brault has a career ERA of 4.57 and he’s hovered around that mark pretty well his entire career in the major leagues. He is on pace for a career-high with an ERA of 4.33 going into Saturday. In his previous three outings, Brault posted a 4.50 ERA in 14 innings pitched. He hasn’t wavered too high or too low throughout his career.
Consistency like that can make a pitcher a lot of money as a middle of the rotation option. He is coming off what could have been a better performance against the Cardinals. Brault allowed 4 earned runs in 4.2 innings of work, having surrendered 5 hits and 3 walks as well.
The Cubs have destroyed Brault in his career. They’re hitting .343 with a .452 OBP in 102 at-bats against Brault. The Cubs have also scored 24 runs on Brault in that span. If they are successful against Brault at the plate again, they may not have to worry about the bullpen blowing a lead.
Lester has allowed 23 runs to the Pirates, but with a lot more plate appearances than the Cubs have had against Brault. The Bucs are hitting .255 against Lester in 231 at-bats. They are hitting just .242 against lefties on the season as opposed to .269 vs right-handed pitching.
The Cubs enter Saturday on a four-game losing streak with losses in six of their last seven games, all of which have come on the road. How much more pathetic can it get for the Cubs? I think they find it in themselves to avoid more embarrassment and avoid collapsing on Saturday behind Lester. The Cubs likely get back on track for the moment in Pittsburgh in this one.