Baseball

Series Preview – Pirates vs. Cubs: And I’m Coming Off This Long And Winding Road

vs.

RECORDS: Pirates 5-3   Cubs 2-7

GAMETIMES: Monday 1:20, Wednesday and Thursday at 7:05

TV: ABC Monday, WGN Wednesday, NBCSN Chicago Thursday

THE CONFLUENCE: Bucs Dugout

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Jameson Taillon vs. Jon Lester

Jordan Lyles vs. Yu Darvish

Joe Musgrove vs. Jose Quintana

Probable Pirates Lineup

Adam Frazier – 2B

Starling Marter – CF

Francisco Cervelli – C

Josh Bell – 1B

Piece Of Shit – 3B

Melky Cabrera – RF

JB Shuck – LF

Erik Gonzalez – SS

(note: the Bucs haven’t faced a lefty this year so not sure how that will change. Frazier and Shuck likely come out for Kevin Newman and Pablo Reyes). 

Cubs Lineup

Ben Zobrist – RF

Kris Bryant – 3B

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Kyle Schwarber – LF

Willson Contreras – C

Daniel Descalso – 2B

Jason Heyward – CF

Well, this should be quite the atmosphere, no? Not only is it the first time Cubs fans will congregate since Tom Ricketts sat on the front office’s hands for them, as well as bitched about the money they don’t have while opening up exclusive clubs left and right in Wrigley, but the Cubs decided to put extra hot sauce on this one by biffing their opening road trip to the tune of a 2-7 record. Usually Opening Day is one big hug. This one is going to have some grinding teeth.

Then again, there’s always grinding teeth when the Pirates are involved, as they can’t seem to shake their hold-me-back ways. They kicked it off this season when Chris Archer filled his diaper yesterday after Derek Dietrich stared at a home run, one that landed somewhere near Harrisburg, so Archer threw behind him. The Pirates got put in their place of course when Yasiel Puig wanted to fight them all and no one had the tires to take him up on the offer. Then again, would you?

It seems the Bucs are always a tightly-wound bunch placing chips on their own shoulders. It’s an organization that is always Sean Rodriguez beating up a cooler, making a big show of doing nothing. And that’s what the Pirates do, nothing. Their owner can’t be bothered to augment what should be a pretty good team, and he hasn’t in five seasons now. They collect their revenue sharing, put just enough of a product out there where you squint and see a contender with one or two moves that never come. And then we do it all over again the next season.

Because this team could be good. It throws a hell of a starting staff at you, with budding star Taillon, Archer, Trevor Williams, and Musgrove (part of the Gerrit Cole deal). It’s not the best rotation, but it isn’t far off, and it comes with a lot of angry fastballs. Some of them aren’t even at hitters!

The pen hasn’t started the year sending hearts aflutter. Felipe Vasquez is always a real problem, but no one else there has been able to find the plate (it can happen to others, people). If you’re bringing out Francisco Liriano from the bullpen, you’ve pretty much admitted you’re ready for an adventure every day. They strike a lot of people out (everyone does but the Cubs), but they don’t get there easily.

The lineup is very boom-or-bust right now, though getting six games in against whatever the Reds are tossing out there certainly is a help. Adam Frazier, Josh Bell, and old friend Melky Cabrera are crushin’ fools left and right so far on the nascent season. Marte, Cervelli, and Kang are wandering lost in the woods. Let’s just be relieved there’s no Christian Yelich here.

The Cubs will be lucky to get two of these in, as Wednesday night’s forecast looks especially gross. Probably should move that one up to the off-day tomorrow, but I also can’t remember when a game was actually moved up a day. After seeing two division winners last week, the Cubs get 12 games against teams that aren’t supposed to be anything more than middling. Maybe they can get healthy that way.

Albert Almora seems to have already lost his starting job in center, as Heyward has moved over the past couple days to accommodate Descalso at second. Is that where Ian Happ will go eventually? Who knows? Maybe Joe Maddon is just riding the Heyward wave. They don’t last long so you have to.

Enough of this happy horseshit. Time to get the season back on track.

 

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