Chicago Cubs: Pirates versus Cubs series preview

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 17: Addison Russell
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 17: Addison Russell /
3 of 6
CHICAGO, IL – MAY 01: Starting pitcher Brett Anderson
CHICAGO, IL – MAY 01: Starting pitcher Brett Anderson /

Injury-prone pitching staff

The Cubs had one of the best starting rotations in baseball last season. Jon Lester and Kyle Hendricks both finished in the top five in Cy Young voting. In addition to that, Jake Arrieta posted a 3.10 ERA in 197 1/3 innings pitched. One of the keys to that success was the prolonged health of the starting staff. Four of the Cubs’ top five starters made at least 30 starts last season. This year has been a different story.

The injuries started in early May when Brett Anderson was placed on the DL. Anderson is yet to return from his DL stint, but is expected back post-All-Star break. The lefty was signed to a one-year deal last off-season to provide the Cubs with some pitching depth. In six starts before hitting the DL, Anderson posted an 8.18 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched.

About a month after Anderson was placed on the DL, right-hander Kyle Hendricks was also placed on the disabled list. The reason for the DL stint was right hand tendinitis. Hendricks’ injury did not seem to be serious. However, a set-back in his rehab further complicated the injury. Now, a return shortly after the All-Star break seems likely for Hendricks.

Prior to hitting the DL, Hendricks had been struggling. In 11 starts, the right-hander recorded a 4.09 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings pitched.

The most recent addition to the disabled list came on Thursday. John Lackey was placed on the DL due to plantar faciitis. Lackey, like the rest of the Cubs’ staff, has taken a step back in 2017. In 17 starts pre-DL, Lackey posted a 5.20 ERA in 98 2/3 innings pitched.

Limping into the series

Over the last nine games, the Cubs are 3-6, having been outscored in that stretch 50-33.