Cubs @ Pirates – Series Preview (June 16-18): TV and Game Info, Pitching Matchups, Insights
The Cubs continue to play inconsistent baseball in 2017, as good play comes in brief spurts and then seems to recede back just as quickly. Batting Anthony Rizzo leadoff Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to provide a temporary spark, only to see a bullpen collapse late in the latter contest.
One of manager Joe Maddon’s favorite sayings is “do simple better.” Basically, if you execute simple plays better than your opponents you should win more often than not. Chicago executed better than anyone in 2016, especially on defense, and sloppy games like Wednesday against the Mets were rare. The Cubs need to start doing simple better soon.
This weekend, the Northsiders head to the Steel City to battle the struggling Pirates, who’ve had a very rough year all the way around. Starling Marte was suspended, Jameson Taillon was treated for cancer (thankfully he recovered quickly), and Jung Ho Kang was barred from the US after a drunk driving arrest in Korea.
Former Cubs farmhand Josh Harrison has been an offensive bright spot for the Bucs, slashing .305/.374/.469. Ivan Nova has seemingly replaced the scuffling Gerrit Cole as staff ace with a 2.83 ERA.
Chicago needs to take advantage of a team below them in the standings. Honestly, they just need to start playing better against anyone, preferably starting this weekend.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Friday, June 16 at 6:05 CT on WGN
- Saturday, June 17 at 7:15 CT on FOX
- Sunday, June 18 at 12:35 CT on MLBN (out of market) and CSN-C
What To Watch For
- Will Anthony Rizzo bat leadoff again this series? Rizzo has homered to open both games in which he has hit at the top of the order. Overall he has hit .364 with 3 homers in June.
- Speaking of promising June starts, Kyle Schwarber is also looking better. So far, War Bear is hitting .250 with 4 homers this month.
- Andrew McCutchen is showing life after being dropped to sixth in the order by manager Clint Hurdle. The centerfielder has hit .391 this month and .423 the last week.
- John Lackey has had a rough go of late, 3 homers allowed at Citi Field brings him up to 19 for the year. Would be nice if he kept it in the yard Sunday.