Monday is the beginning of not only a new month but also the start of a four-game series between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. The Cubs were decent in this past month, going 14-15. Not as good as they would have hoped, however, as the Brewers, who they are tied with for the National League Central lead, had a rough month. The Cubs could have created some serious separation. The Pirates will also be happy to see the month of June go, as they went only 11-15. The only series between these two so far this season came in the first week of April when the Cubs won two of three. In that series, the Cubs shut the Pirates out twice and put up 14 runs of their own.
For the Cubs, rookie Adbert Alzolay will take the mound for the second start of his career. Alzolay was just named to the MLB Futures game for All-Star Weekend, and it was much deserved. Alzolay is Chicago’s fourth top-rated prospect and has been terrific so far in Triple-A this season. He was 2-1 in six starts with a 3.09 ERA. The number that absolutely pops off the page when you look at his stats is his 12.94 K/9. Only Gerrit Cole and Chris Sale have a better K/9 as starters in the majors this season, quite the group to be a part of.
His first start in the big leagues went decently. He went 4 2/3 innings and only gave up one hit, which was incidentally a home run. That shouldn’t be a worry, however, as home runs have never been a problem in his career, despite having a super high fly ball percentage.
For the Pirates, Trevor Williams will take the hill for his 12th start in 2019. So far, even with being on the injured list for a portion of this season, Williams has been solid. He has a 2-2 record with a 4.25 earned run average. However, since coming off the injured list, he has had a rough time. He did pitch into the seventh inning in his last start against a good Astros team, but he did give up four runs on eight hits. His last start before that was even worse, as he gave up seven runs in five innings.
The Pirates are hoping he gets back to the form he was pre-injury. He was on a roll all of April and into May, with six out of his nine starts being quality starts. He had only allowed four home runs all season before the injury, but since he’s been back, he’s allowed four in just two starts. The numbers would seem to suggest he’ll get back to the guy he was before the injury, as his BABIP in his last two starts is well over .300.
This is a tough pick here. You don’t have much of a sample size from Alzolay to base an opinion on, and Williams has been trash at home this season with a 6.00 ERA in 24 innings. When the starting pitchers make the decision tough, I usually lean towards whichever lineup is more talented. And luckily, that choice is very easy. Take the Cubbies.
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