Cubs @ Pirates Series Review: Late Season Collapse Continues as Cubs are Swept by Pirates

Could a more fitting (almost) ending to the 2019 Cubs season ever be written?

Facing the team against which the they recorded their last successful series, the tables were turned in unexpected fashion. The hapless Pirates both eliminated the Cubs from playoff contention and then danced on their graves, completing a series sweep that none of us would have expected at this time two weeks ago.

What else is there to say, honestly? This series was a messy continuation of what has been one of the worst and most impactful losing streaks in recent Cubs history. It sucks that it’s come to this, but come to this it has.


  • Pirates 9, Cubs 2 (recap)
  • Pirates 4, Cubs 2 (recap)
  • Pirates 9, Cubs 5 (recap)

Key moments

Oof. It’s hard to pin down “key moments” in a series in which the Cubs were swept in fairly resounding fashion by the garbage heap known as the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Game one had them, though. It’s hard to remember now, but Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs entered the 7th inning clinging to a 1-0 lead that came on the strength of an RBI double by Nico Hoerner.

Needless to say, that lead wouldn’t last. The Bucs dropped seven runs in that 7th inning before scoring another pair in the latter two innings. What looked like it might be the game to snap the Cubs losing streak and keep their (admittedly slim) playoff hopes alive turned out to be anything but.

Wednesday’s middle game closed the season out on a high note for veteran lefty Jon Lester. Though he’s struggled for large parts of the second half, he gave up only a pair of runs over six solid innings of work.

It wouldn’t be enough, though. Ian Happ drove in a pair of runs on a solo home run and an RBI single, but two runs wouldn’t cut it against four from the Pirates.

The series finale continued the Cubs’ recent woes, bringing the losing streak to an almost unbelievable nine games. José Quintana was terrible and has been so all month. More on that later.

Happ continued what was a solid series for him, smacking an RBI double in the 6th inning. The Cubs would rally somewhat from what was a 9-3 deficit, but as it turns out, giving up nine runs often has negative consequences in terms of a team’s ability to win games.

Who’s hot

  • Lester managed to finish what has been an up-and-down season on a high mark. His six innings of work brought his ERA down to 4.46, not far from the National League average. While Jon may no longer be the top of the rotation starter he once was, he is still someone that the Cubs can count on for durability and more good starts than bad.
  • Anthony Rizzo didn’t actually have a particularly strong series, but he belongs in the section anyway for one reason. The Captain will almost certainly end the regular season as the team leader in OPS. While Rizzo failed to clear the 100 RBI or 30 home run mark, this ended up being one of stronger offensive seasons. Rizzo just barely managed to reach the 4.0 fWAR mark, doing so for the fifth time in his career.

Who’s not

  • Quintana had a disastrous September. What looked like a promising season has turned into what ended up being a pretty mediocre campaign when taken in aggregate.’s Jordan Bastian spelled out the ugly truth in tweet posted following Quintana’s outing.


Bottom line

Since the last time I wrote a series review, the Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention and have had their losing streak extended to nine by the previously hapless Pirates. There aren’t really any bright sides here.

The Cubs will have a chance to meaningfully impact the playoff race in the series to come, as they travel to face a St. Louis Cardinals team that is holding onto their lead in the NL Central for dear life against a Brewers team hoping to capture its second straight division title on the strength of an insane September run.

If nothing else, it brings into focus that I do in fact hate the Cardinals significantly more than the Brewers.

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