After a rocky start to their five-game homestand, the Cubs went 2-1 in their against the Giants. They left Chicago with a 27-22 record and are 4.5 games behind Milwaukee in the Central. The Pirates await the Cubs in beautiful PNC Park with a 28-24 record, half-game behind the Cubs in the division.
The Pirates have been pretty good on offense so far this year, ranking seventh as a group in fWAR (8.9) and slashing .259/.331/.427. Leading the way is Francisco Cervelli (2.1 fWAR; .285/.404/.531), who is turning in a great 2018 campaign so far. Starling Marte (1.8 fWAR; .313/.369/.521) is also doing well so far this year.
Rookie phenom Austin Meadows has been hitting the cover off of the ball since he was called up to the big league club. In 30 plate appearances, he’s slashing .433/.433/.867 and has accrued 0.7 fWAR. You should fully expect the regression monster to attack Meadows relatively soon, but he is a game-changer right now.
The Pirates pitching staff has been just okay this year, ranking 14th in fWAR (4.6). Joe Musgrove, a key piece in the deal that sent Gerrit Cole to the Astros, made his debut for the Pirates and went seven strong innings against the Reds last week. The addition of Musgrove should only benefit the Pirates starters, who have not performed all that well overall.
There is a chance that Ivan Nova will be placed on the DL before his scheduled Tuesday start with a sprained ligament in his right ring finger. Nick Kingham is the most likely replacement him if Nova cannot make his start.
The Bucs bullpen has been fairly stout, but might be without their best reliever for a little while. Felipe Vazquez exited Sunday’s contest against the Cardinals with left forearm discomfort. The severity of the injury is not known at this time, but it could very well affect how the series plays out for the Cubs.
Game Time and Broadcast Info
- Monday, May 28 at 12:35 CT on ABC-7
- Tuesday, May 29 at 6:05 CT on WGN
- Wednesday, May 30 at 6:05 CT on NBC Sports Chicago
What to Watch For
- After expressing his desire to start games in the offseason, Mike Montgomery will finally get his chance to do just that. You should expect to see him go five or six innings at the most on Monday, unless he’s really cruising.
- It seems as though Javy Baez might be heating up. In the past seven days he’s slashing .276/.300/.655, so look for him to continue smashing the ball.
- While Anthony Rizzo has been improving his approach at the plate and getting on base at a very good rate (.419 in the past seven days and .391 in the past 14), his power has yet to manifest (.375 slugging in the past seven days; .340 in the past 14; .361 for the year). Look for him to have a good series and to continue driving the ball with authority on a more consistent basis.