It’s good to be home after the ten day home stand, especially as the Chicago Cubs (82-47) get set to take on two tough foes in the Pittsburgh Pirates (67-61) and the San Francisco Giants (71-59).
First up are the Pirates and they’ve been playing well lately. It’s a nice coincidence that Jake Arrieta (16-5, 2.62 ERA) will throw first in this series because the Cubs could really use a win tonight, particularly after losing the last two games in Los Angeles.
Addison Russell has been one of the hottest Cubs’ hitters since the break – with the exception of Kris Bryant who’s in a league all his own – with an impressive 1.4 fWAR while slashing .257/.321/.486 with a 111 wRC+. He will get some rest and sit out today in favor of the ever versatile Javy Baez.
Willson Contreras is back in again to catch for Jake, making this the third consecutive game that Willson has caught for him. That’s a positive trend when Joe Maddon has enough confidence to keep starting a rookie catcher on the best team in baseball to catch for the top pitcher on the team. Of course, this isn’t just any old rookie catcher we’re talking about either. Willson has shown the maturity and skill-set – offensively and behind the plate – of a someone who’s been in the league a lot longer than a couple months. Kid’s got skills.
Here’s tonight’s Chicago Cubs lineup: