The Pittsburgh Pirates initially got off to a slow start, but have definitely been coming around of late. They bring their services to Chicago where they face the Cubs at historic Wrigley Field. The Cubs are really banking on an array of young talent will lead them to the postseason, and ultimately end the World Series drought, the longest of any team in professional sports. There is talent there no doubt about it, and I definitely think it is time to start paying attention to the Cubs. Maybe the prediction in Back To The Future is correct? Maybe the Cubs do go on to win the World Series this season. Okay, okay we might be getting a little ahead of ourselves with that comment, but looking up and down the lineup, if the Cubs got on a roll at the right time, I suppose they could make a run for it. I am in the camp of waiting a couple years on this tea, however. They’ll get plenty of experience the next two seasons and should be ready to be a main player in 2017. Not to say they are going to be bad until then, I think they’ll be a good team, but not quite elite. In any case, watch out for the names Kris Bryant and Jorge Soler, two players that are going to make the transition to elite a possibility. Even a name like Anthony Rizzo can yield feelings of optimism among Cubs’ fans.
A pretty good matchup today between two teams that are just on the cusp of being great. The Pirates have bucked the trend of years of losing in Pittsburgh and should be the right there in the postseason hunt once again come August and September. I have said it for a couple years now, but the Pirates need an additional one or two bats to take them to another level. You could say that about a lot of teams, but Neil Walker isn’t scaring most pitchers in this league. Of course there is Andrew McCutchen and they have a serviceable rotation, but is there anyone else other than McCutchen that make opposing pitchers sweat a little? Another one of those would definitely serve the Pirates well. Let’s switch gears to today, and look at what’s on tap for the Pirates and Cubs.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs
Vance Worley (2-1, 4.00 ERA) vs. Jason Hammel (1-1, 5.19 ERA)
Cubs’ starter Jason Hammel is one of the more wild pitchers in the league. When I say that I mean he is all over the place with regards to consistency. This is Hammel’s second stint with the Cubs after he was dealt to the A’s from Chicago in-season last year. The Cubs welcomed him back after having success with them before he left town, posting a 2.98 ERA, one of the best stretches of his career in the majors. This season he has gotten back to his erratic ways, entering this evening with a 5.19 ERA. He needs to keep the ball down, as he has been credited for a HR against in each of his three starts this season. Hammel has a career 4.03 against the Pirates.
Worley’s numbers are somewhat deceptive to me. The start of the season does produce some skewed numbers which require a closer eye. Worley did get credited for a bad start in his opener with 6 runs allowed against the Brewers. He then calmed down and has only allowed 2 runs in 11.2 innings pitched. One of those starts came against the Cubs, where he had no earned runs and only surrendered 6 hits. Dating back to last season, Worley allowed only 2 runs in his last start of the season against the Cubs. Worley has a terrific history against the Cubs, posting an ERA of just 1.97 with a 1.13 WHIP and opponent OBP of .214. I’m going to side with the underdogs here today and back the Pirates to win their fourth straight.
PICK: PIRATES TO WIN +115