The Cubs (24-22) won two of three from the first-place Cardinals in St. Louis to move within two games of the lead, then a Cards loss on the South Side closed the gap by another half-game. Outstanding pitching, especially from the bullpen, held the Cards to just 5 runs scored in the three-game set and earned the Cubs a tight win Sunday after Friday’s blowout.
The Cubs ‘pen has the fourth-best ERA (3.02) in baseball this season and their 228 strikeouts are the second-most. They had a scoreless streak that reached 25.2 innings and are still riding a streak of eight games without an earned run. Next is another matchup with the scuffling Pirates.
Pittsburgh (18-28) has gone 6-15 in May after a decent start to the season that saw them take two of three from the Cubs in the Steel City back in April. Cub-killer Adam Frazier is hitting .335 with an impressive .858 OPS in the leadoff spot, but Colin Moran is still out with a groin injury. The Pirates’ 30 total homers are dead last in baseball and their 81 wRC+ is better than only the Rockies (78).
The Bucs rotation has really struggled of late, putting them in a lot of early deficits with an overall 4.91 ERA that is third from bottom in the majors. The front-end pitching issues obscure some decent relievers like Richard Rodriguez, whose 0.47 ERA is being squandered because his team doesn’t get enough leads for him to protect.
The Cubs have gone a disappointing 5-4 against Pittsburgh in their nine meetings this season, so they need to build on their recent success and kick a team that is down. Sometimes, what you do against the bad teams is more important than flexing in a playoff preview series.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Tuesday, May 25 at 5:35pm CT on Marquee
- Wednesday, May 26 at 5:35pm CT on Marquee
- Thursday, May 27 at 11:35am CT on MLB Network and Marquee
What to Watch For
- The Pirates have not announced a starter for Tuesday’s game as of post time.
- Javy Báez is starting to punish mistakes at the plate, a good sign for the Cubs offense.
- Williams is the one Chicago starter who has yet to show improvement in recent weeks.