Steven Brault (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Jon Lester (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
The Chicago Cubs scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th and nearly escaped a blown save to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Saturday night at Wrigley. It got interesting in the 9th with the Pirates scoring 3 runs to make it a 4-3 game. That was the only runs that the Bucs would score in the game.
Cubs’ fans had to hold their collective breaths, but a blown save was averted. The Cubs advanced to 6-2 on the season for a comfortable early lead in the NL Central. Comfortable as it’s going to get this early I should say. They’re two games up on the Brewers who currently sport a record of 3-3. The Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals are in turmoil right now because of the coronavirus.
Lorenzo Cain just opted out after playing five games, which provides an additional blow for the Brewers’ chances in the NL Central. We’re not really sure when the Cardinals and Brewers will be officially clear to return to play, so right now, the Cubs can pull away without a care in the world. The Reds were expected to play a role in the NL Central, but it appears like it could be another letdown in Cincinnati.
It feels as if people have been saying that about the Reds since they acquired Yasiel Puig, which was a failure and they still haven’t gotten on the right path. Even in a shortened season, the Reds don’t look serious to do anything. That’s good news for the Cubs, who have a clear path to the division title right now. A lot can change in a hurry in baseball, but nobody knows what’s going to come of the Brewers and Cardinals.
Taking Cain out of the Brewers’ lineup certainly hurts their chances. The Cubs aren’t going to complain about anything, though. They are expected to send Jon Lester to the hill for his second start of the season. The former ace is hoping to get his career back on track after going off the rails last season. So far so good for Lester. The Pirates are expected to counter with Steven Brault. Head below for our free Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs pick for August 2, 2020.
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Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Prediction:
If Jon Lester can follow up with another productive day on Sunday, then he might be able to get something going in 2020. It would be hard if baseball would have to stop with Lester finally getting on track. He wasn’t on the right track last season, as he finished with an ERA Of 4.46 and 1.50 WHIP. That hurt the team as a whole.
Without Lester firing on all cylinders, it’s difficult for the Cubs to reach their full potential. It was the highest ERA that Lester recorded in a season since 2012 with the Red Sox. Lester was more than fine in 2018 as he notched a 3.32 ERA. That momentum was lost the following season, though he still has enough talent to get back to 2018 form.
Lester was on fire against the Reds in his debut this season. No one looked more focused than him on the bump. He went 5 innings and didn’t allow a hit or run. Lester issued just 1 walk for the only baserunner for the Reds while he was on the mound.
He left the game with an ERA of 0.00 and 0.20 WHIP. That’s how you respond after a poor season. And it’s not like the Reds’ offense is filled with a bunch of losers that can’t hit. There is some decent talent there. Josh Bell is the only Pirate to hit a long ball off Lester in 122 at-bats.
The Pirates might opt to go with a bullpen game on Sunday against the Cubs. Steven Brault will start, but likely won’t go deep into the game. He pitched 2 innings against the Brewers in his opener, with no runs allowed and 2 walks for a 1.50 WHIP. The Cubs have slammed Brault for a .322 and .443 OBP in 110 at-bats.
There are several hitters on the Cubs roster that are hitting around the .500 mark against Brault in his career. I have confidence in Lester keeping his form and building on what he accomplished in his debut this season. The Cubs nearly let one slip away on Saturday, but I think they handle business here and pull away for an easy win without any drama.