Pitchers: Francisco Liriano (3-1, 3.60) takes the hill opposite Jason Hammel (4-0, 1.85). Francisco was money in the bank the past two games. He hasn't met the Cubbies yet this year and was 1-0/2.13 in a pair of starts in 2015. That about matches his career numbers: 5-2/2.27 in 11 career starts against the Chi-town. Hammel's off to a flying start and he held the Bucs to a two spot in five frames last series, but that may have been more a result of some bad at bats rather than sharp pitching.
|Frankie looking to get the Bucs off on the right foot (photo Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune)|
Lineup: John Jaso 1B, Cutch CF, Gregory Polanco RF, Starling Marte LF, Fran Cervelli C, Jung Ho Kang 3B, Josh Harrison 2B, Jordy SS, Frankie P. That's the A-Team lineup.
Let's see if the Bucs can get back to their game at Wrigley; seems like they were squeezin' sawdust out of their bats in Pittsburgh. Da Cubbies are a talented group of hitters, but the pitching is due to come to earth. Their ERA (2.67) is quite a bit lower than their FIP, xFIP or SIERRA, and the .250 BABIP is the lowest in MLB, so the pitching is due for some regression. And they are human; the Padres took the last pair from Chicago, which is seven games ahead of Pittsburgh in the Central Division race.
- The MLB roster has been normalized; Cole Figueroa was recalled and Kyle Lobstein was sent to Indy, giving the Bucs five bench players and seven in the pen.
- Cutch is quietly riding a six-game hitting streak.
- Chris Shubert of MLB Daily Dish looks at five pitchers who should be in line for contract extensions; he has Gerrit Cole among them. He writes that "A Boras client, but with Cole just a couple of seasons away from free agency and the Pirates having a tendency to work these extensions out sooner rather than later, something could brew between these two soon."