The red-hot Cubs come rambling into Pittsburgh for a 3-game skirmish this weekend (note: Cubs not actually red-hot). The Pirates are a really, really interesting team considering that they don't have an offensive standout this year, but they don't have any offensive black holes. From top to bottom, the OPS+ of the 8 position players is 122, 114, 106, 103, 103, 100, 98, 96. The Pirates are also good at shortening the game with their bullpen; getting there is another story.
- OBP: Kris Bryant (.397)
- ISO: Bryant (.264)
- HR: Bryant/Anthony Rizzo (15)
- R+RBI: Rizzo (80) (nice)
- BSR: Jay (1.7)
- Defense: Willson Contreras (6.6)
- SP K/9: Jake Arrieta (9.74)
- SP BB/9: John Lackey (2.75)
- SP FIP: Jon Lester (3.51)
- RP K/9: Carl Edwards Jr. (12.65)
- RP BB/9: Koji Uehara (2.01)
- RP FIP: Davis (1.87)
- WAR: Bryant (2.5)
- OBP: David Freese (.380)
- ISO: Josh Bell/Jose Osuna (.210)
- HR: Bell/Andrew McCutchen (11)
- R+RBI: McCutchen (71)
- BSR: Josh Harrison (1.0)
- Defense: Jordy Mercer (3.8)
- SP K/9: Tyler Glasnow (8.28)
- SP BB/9: Ivan Nova (0.71)
- SP FIP: Nova (3.53)
- RP K/9: Felipe Rivero (9.87)
- RP BB/9: Wade LeBlanc (1.66)
- RP FIP: Davis (2.01)
- WAR: Harrison (2.1)
Friday: Eddie "What? Me Strikeout?" Butler (4.13 FIP) vs "Tennessee" Trevor Williams (4.82) (6:05 PM CST, WGN TV, 670 Radio)
Over/under on strikeouts recorded by these two starters in this game: 6.5
Over/under on earned runs allowed by these two starters in this game: 6.5
Eddie Butler is just not a very good pitcher. He's had incredible HR-luck this year and parlayed that into a league-average FIP. Nothing either in the hitting environment or Butler's own past indicate he can escape the longball in a meaningful way all season, so when those troubles come back (they will) it's going to get ugly.
Trevor Williams' upside is approximately Eddie Butler.
Saturday: Jake "The Snake" Arrieta (4.04) vs Ivan "Super" Nova (3.53) (7:15 PM CST, FOX TV, 670 Radio)
Ivan Nova is running an experiment where he is trying to figure out the highest ratio of balls in play you can get. Right now, it's working out for him (.262 BABIP), but having a 13.7% strikeout percentage would make Eddie Butler blush. He's had an increase in line drives and ground balls, so expect that the Cubs line out a lot and ground into 4 double plays.
I think Jake Arrieta has been pretty underrated this year, though he's dealing with a thumb issue. He's had a few too many fastballs this year (and they've been pulling them), but other than that his numbers are really similar to 2014 otherwise. This is Arrieta's last year as a Cub, so if the season goes really south, he can probably net something on the trade market. If not, I think he'll be suitable enough to be a starter for the NLDS we get swept in.
Sunday: John Lackey "Eats Live Mice" (5.55) vs Jameson Taillon (3.95) (12:35 PM CST, CSN-C TV, 670 Radio)
When 5 flyballs come off the bat after a Lackey pitch this year, one on average leaves the park. That's…not good. John Lackey seems like he's kind of a dick, and he's pitched horribly all year. Hard contact rates get higher and higher, almost to the point where you expect an integer overflow. I really don't want to watch another John Lackey start. I think that's exactly what I'll do.
Jameson Taillon has beaten cancer this year, so who gives a flying fuck how good of a pitcher he is. Glad he's doing well. It reminds me of John Arguello from Cubs Den. His cancer just came back. His twitter is right here. Please let him know that he's got some support, and if you can do more, please do so. Fuck cancer.
The Cubs don't face Gerrit Cole, which is a shame.