Baseball

Series Preview – Cubs vs. Pirates: And Now, The Denouement

vs.

RECORDS: Cubs 82-74   65-91

GAMETIMES: Tuesday-Thursday 6:05pm

TV: Tuesday/Thursday NBCSN, WGN Wednesday

THE DAMNED: Bucs Dugout

SERIES PREVIEW

Depth Charts & Pitching Staffs

Pirates Spotlight

Oh right, the Cubs have to finish out the schedule.

It’s hard to think of a more funeral dirge atmosphere than the next three nights at PNC Park, where the zombified Cubs will stand around and stare at the long dead and white flag waving Pirates. It’s hard to believe it was only 10 days ago that the Cubs throttled the Pirates so hard at Wrigley that you genuinely believed they were ready to close the season with a flourish. It seems like it was last season or even longer. But that’s all it was. Baseball can be so cruel.

Oh sure, the Cubs could run the table here and the Brewers could get Sonny Gray‘d and Luis Castillo‘d in Cincy and suddenly the last weekend might matter somewhat. But does it? What would a miracle run get the Cubs? One more game with no Kris Byrant, a one-legged Anthony Rizzo, and a one-handed Javy Baez? There’s only so much one team can carry. It’s probably for the best if everyone just goes home.

On the surface, the Cubs have a question if Cole Hamels will make his start on Thursday. It probably hinges on whether the game is for anything, which it likely won’t be. But considering how bad Hamels has been while hurt, considering it’s the Pirates either way, and considering if it’s even a question, you can probably look for Alec Mills to take that start and Hamels to start looking up real estate listings in Orange County.

Anthony Rizzo probably isn’t far from being sat for the rest of the season either, though he will insist on playing until there is absolutely no point. Other than that, I’m not sure what to tell you. More experience for Nico Hoerner? A last chance to see Ben Zobrist? Likely Nicholas Castellanos too?

As for the “always could be worse” department, the Pirates are currently the whole thing. You saw them simply get bludgeoned at Wrigley. They followed that up by getting swept at home by the equally moribund Mariners where they scored six runs. They then got swept without every really breathing in Milwaukee, losing the first two games of that one by an aggregate 20-2.

This team clearly gave up somewhere in July, and yet they’ve let Clint Hurdle continue to mummy his way thorough this season. One relief pitcher went on the DL for good after punching another reliever. Then it turned out the reliever he was punching was a rapist. That’s just one story from the second half of the season, one in which the Pirates will end up losing more than 50 games.

Josh Bell has flattened out. So has Bryan Reynolds to a point. Joe Musgrove has been ok, but other than that it’s been a cavalcade of janitors and train-hoppers that have filled out the lineup and pitching staff. Where this team is going is anyone’s guess. Bell has yet to prove he’s someone you build around. Reynolds seems much more like a complimentary piece. There’s no one in the rotation with Taillon out until most likely 2021. There aren’t really any prospects to get excited about. It could be real ugly on The Confluence for a while.

The schedule says they have to do this. Expect the games to match. Almost there, though.

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