It was scary in the 8th and 9th inning for the Chicago Cubs yesterday afternoon, but the bullpen ultimately got the job done to secure a 2-0 victory. The night before, the Cubs managed to blow what looked like a safe lead in the 9th. However, a similar fate wasn’t going to happen again for the Cubs. Tyler Chatwood and Rowan Wick combined to pitch three perfect innings, allowing no hits and no runs. The only mistake was Tyler Chatwood issuing a walk.
Chatwood has developed into the best reliever that the Cubs have in their bullpen. Joe Maddon just hasn’t been utilizing him enough, often turning to his traditional relievers instead of Chatwood, who has primarily been used as a starter in his career. One of the issues with not turning to Chatwood more often is the amount of work that he gets out of the bullpen.
When things are rolling, he’s usually eclipsing 3 innings on the bump, so that takes him out of the equation for the next day. Maddon is being careful to preserve his arm down the stretch for the most important time of the regular season. However, after blowing what should have been a sure win on Friday night, the Cubs had to go to Chatwood to get some of their mojo back in the clubhouse.
Jon Lester should get some recognition in that spot as well. Lester was going through struggles, but appears to be back on the right track. The Cubs are going to need him down the stretch if they want to be playing in October. Lester was sharp in 6 innings, having allowed just 4 hits and no runs. The Cubs will turn to Jose Quintana tonight, while the Pirates will go with Mitch Keller on Sunday Night Baseball. Head below for our free Cubs vs. Pirates pick.
Chicago Cubs vs. Pittsburgh Pirates Pick:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
Mitch Keller will be making only his fifth major league start this evening and it comes in primetime on Sunday Night Baseball. The rookie is getting some valuable experience up in the big leagues with the Pirates. It’s been a choppy start to his career, with a couple of horrible outings and a couple that went pretty well. His best effort came in his most recent outing, as he was sharp with just 1 earned run allowed in 5 innings against the Angels in Anaheim.
In his other positive outing, Keller surrendered 4 hits and 2 earned runs to the Tigers at home. The Tigers have one of the worst offenses in baseball, so that may have just been a result of playing a bad team. Keller was abysmal against the Braves and Reds in his other two outings, allowing 12 earned runs in 7 innings of work.
Fortunately, he was able to bring his numbers down against the Tigers and the Angels, but the damage was done. Keller heads into Sunday night with an ERA of 7.94 and 2.00 WHIP. He would get a huge rush of confidence if tonight proves to be a success night at the office. I’m not so sure he gets out of this one with a stellar stat line, though. The Cubs slept yesterday afternoon and holding them down like that again is going to be tough for the Pirates.
The Pirates get a date with Quintana tonight at the dish. He has been pitching extremely well recently. The Athletics and Phillies scored just 2 runs in total across 13 innings of play against Quintana. Quintana goes into this one with an impressive 1.89 ERA and 0.79 WHIP in his previous three outings.
It’s also been five outings since he’s allowed more than 3 runs in a start and 3 or less runs in seven of his last eight appearences. The Pirates are hitting just .202 with 3 home runs hit against Quintana in 124 showings at the plate. The Cubs have had their struggles on the road in 2019, but look for them to wrap up this road trip with a win on Sunday Night Baseball.