After another impressive performance from Jake Arrieta, the Chicago Cubs send their “other ace” Jon Lester to the mound as they look for another win against the–as of late–hapless Pittsburgh Pirates.
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The Pittsburgh Pirates likely can’t wait to get out of town. The Chicago Cubs are 6-1 against them this season, and the NL Wild Card game is likely still fresh in everyone’s mind. The Cubs (45-20) can add to their 13-game lead with another victory, and possibly putting an “end” to the Pirates (33-34) season before the All-Star break comes.
Jon Lester (8-3, 1.89) has looked more and more like the ace the Cubs signed last season, and with him and Lester at the No. 1 and 2 spots in the rotation that’s been a tough draw for anyone having to face them. Lester comes in the hottest of the staff as he’s 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA in his last four outings. And in his last three, he hasn’t walked a batter, the first time since the feat was achieved by Greg Maddux in 2005.
The Pirates will send Jonathan Niese (6-3, 4.60) to the mound as he comes off his worst outing of the season, allowing eight runs in 5 1/3 innings last Sunday against the Cardinals. After dropping the series finale against the New York Mets, the Pirates are 1-8 in their last 9 games including the 6-0 shutout at the hands of the Cubs in the opener.
The Cubs will have Kris Bryant (illness) and Jason Heyward (day off) back in the lineup tonight. Fans will have to wait for a pinch-hit spot to see the rookie Willson Contreras get his first swings as David Ross will, per usual, handle the duties behind the plate with Lester on the mound.
The Pirates have been without starting left fielder Starling Marte for the last two days after he took a one-hopper off his face during Wednesday’s game, and he’ll once again be out of the starting lineup. During the team’s recent struggles, he’s been a bright spot batting .474 (9-for-19) over the last week.
Here are the starting lineups for tonight’s game:
Today’s game will be nationally televised by FOX, and can also be heard on 670 The Score for the radio broadcast. Be sure to come back later for our post game coverage!