Game Twenty-Six: Cubs (19-6) vs. Pirates (15-12)
- Game Time – 11:35am CDT
- Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network – Radio: WSCR 670 The Score, Cubs Radio Network, XM Radio Channels 183, 844
- Location – PNC Park, Pittsburgh
Jon Lester (2-1, 1.83/0.93/3.28) vs. Juan Nicasio (3-2, 3.33/1.14/3.70)
Weather permitting … Grab the coffee and get ready for an early start time for the Cubs. Joe Maddon’s team wraps up the three-game series and road trip with the finale at PNC Park.
After taking the first two games of the series, the Cubs have a shot at a sweep in Pittsburgh today behind Jon Lester. Maddon said last night that Javier Baez will be at third base today. David Ross returns to the starting lineup with Lester on the hill and there is a possibility Jason Heyward could play for the first time in the series.
The Cubs need Lester to follow what Jason Hammel and Jake Arrieta started in order to make the flight back to Chicago a little more comfortable in their zany suits.
Juan Nicasio has been really good in his home park and has dominated right-handed hitters this season. Maddon’s options are limited from the left side with Baez and Ross in the lineup. Left-handers are hitting .262/.354/.452 with a .807 OPS off Nicasio and right-handers have managed a .148/.233/.204 line with a .437 OPS.
Today all starts with Jon Lester …
Jon Lester picked up his fifth straight quality start his last time out. For the first time in Lester’s career he has begun a season with five consecutive quality starts. Lester made two mistakes, one cost him a run, against the Braves. Lester received a no-decision after allowing one run on seven hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts in seven innings. The Cubs won the game 6-1.
While Lester’s critics are pointing to a lack of wins for the lefty, the Cubs are 4-1 in the five games he has started this season. And that’s the only win-loss record that matters.
Lester has allowed seven runs, all earned, on 25 hits with seven walks and 33 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings this year. Lester makes the fifth start of his career against the Pirates today.
Lester is 2-2 in four outings in his career against the Pirates with a 1.86 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Lester was 2-1 in three starts versus the Bucs a year ago with a 1.57 ERA and 0.91 WHIP (four runs, 19 hits, two walks, 22 strikeouts, 23 innings). And at PNC Park, Lester is 1-1 in two starts with a 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.
Pirates Career Numbers against Jon Lester
- Sean Rodriguez: 9-for-38 with three doubles, two home runs and four walks
- Francisco Cervelli: 3-for-15 with one double
- Andrew McCutchen: 1-for-13
- David Freese: 3-for-12 with one double
- Matt Joyce: 4-for-11 with two home runs and one walk
- Chris Stewart: 3-for-7 with one home run and two walks
- Josh Harrison: 2-for-11
- Starling Marte: 3-for-10 with one double
- Jason Rogers: 1-for-6
- Jordy Mercer: 1-for-3 with one double
- Gregory Polanco: 0-for-3
The Cubs get their first look at Juan Nicasio in a Pirates jersey today. The former Rockie and Dodger has followed Ray Searage’s instruction to a tee and has been really, really good for the Pirates. Nicasio is coming off seven innings of shutout ball against the Reds. Nicasio allowed three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Nicasio has had only one bad outing out of five this season.
Nicasio has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits with 12 walks and 29 strikeouts in 27 innings. At PNC Park this season, Nicasio is a perfect 3-0 in three starts with a 1.89 ERA and 0.68 WHIP.
Juan Nicasio is 1-1 in six career games, two starts, versus the Cubs with a 4.32 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Nicasio faced the Cubs three times last season out of the Dodgers’ bullpen. Nicasio blanked the Cubs for 3 2/3 innings and gave up two hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
Cubs Career Numbers against Juan Nicasio
- Jason Heyward: 6-for-16 with two doubles and three walks
- Anthony Rizzo: 0-for-7 with two walks
- David Ross: 2-for-7 with one double
- Kris Bryant: 1-for-2
- Tim Federowicz: 0-for-2
- Tommy La Stella: 1-for-2
- Javier Baez: 1-for-1 with one home run
- Dexter Fowler: 1-for-1 with one double
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …