On Thursday, the Pittsburgh Pirates will be going for the three-game sweep against the Chicago Cubs, who are falling fast. They have lost eight in a row and were officially eliminated from playoff contention last night. The other story here is the managers. It was announced Clint Hurdle will return to the Pirates to manage for 2020. This makes absolutely no sense to anyone, but anything to save a dollar I guess.
Joe Maddon looks like he will be looking for a new job in 2020, and there will be a rather long line of suitors. My guess would be Philadelphia or San Diego, but his list of offers will be lengthy. It looks like the Cubs think a new voice is needed for an organization missing the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
In the series finale, Chicago left-hander Jose Quintana (13-8, 4.55 ERA) is slated to face Pittsburgh right-hander Joe Musgrove (10-12, 4.49).
There is yet to be a line posted as both teams have multiple players shut down for the season.
Cubs Looking To 2020
Cubs fans are already looking to what offseason moves can be made to get this team back to the top of the NL Central. This team has plenty of talent on offense, and their run differential is still towards the top, so they don’t need to make huge changes to their offense. Pitching will be the key to any turnaround, as this team led the league in blown saves.
Quintana also is coming off a no-decision. He gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings Saturday against St. Louis, and the Cubs went on to fall 9-8. Over his past six starts, he has an 8.49 ERA, allowing at least four runs in five of those contests.
In 10 career starts against Pittsburgh, Quintana is 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA. That includes going 4-0 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts — all Chicago wins — this year.
The Cubs have 144 plate appearances against Musgrove with very little success. They have a combined OPS of .512. Kris Bryant and Ben Zobrist both have home runs against Musgrove but are both unlikely to play. The Cubs lineup most likely will be without Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Zobrist.
Pirates Bring Back Hurdle
The rumor mill surprised everyone in baseball when it was leaked that the Pirates will be bringing back Hurdle for the 2020 season. Everyone around baseball is asking why. This team has shown very little this season, and everyone assumed a new manager would be heading to Pittsburgh.
Musgrove has won his past two decisions after losing three in a row. On Sept. 19, he gave up four runs, two earned, and five hits to Seattle over five innings, with six strikeouts and two walks. He left with the lead but did not get a decision in a game the Pirates lost 6-5 in 11 innings.
He has a 2.86 ERA over his past four starts. Against the Cubs, Musgrove is 2-2 with a 1.47 ERA in six career starts. This year, he has faced Chicago three times, going 0-1 with a 1.08 ERA.
Pirates hitters have struggled against Quintana with a combined OPS of .617 in 140 plate appearances. Jose Osuna is 3 for 9 with a homer, while Kevin Newman is hitting .500, going 7 for 14.
Honestly, who knows what is going to happen in this game. The Cubs have lost eight in a row and have been eliminated from playoff contention. They will be resting a lot of guys, and this will be a Triple-A lineup at best. But, the Pirates aren’t very good, and the young guys will be hungry. Neither team has had much success against the opposing starter, but a lot of those guys won’t be in the lineup.
My advice is once the line does come out, take the underdog. I am anticipating the Pirates at +110 or something small.
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