Pirates (53-33) at Cubs (37-48)
2:20 PM–Wrigley Field, Chicago
TV: ROOT, WGN
The Bucs look to bounce back from an uninspiring loss yesterday and take this weekend’s series on the road at Wrigley. The Bucs haven’t lost two games in a row in quite a while, but doing so today would mark two consecutive series losses, which wouldn’t be great way to head in to another tough series against the A’s.
One news bit that could be of note (but hopefully won’t be): Neil Walker left yesterday’s game with a sore right side. Brandon Inge replaced him and is starting today (ugh). Walker will get an MRI tomorrow – we saw how his injury helped to decimate the team last year, so let’s hope he’ll be back soon.
A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.12) vs. Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.45)
AJ’s back! The leader of the Bucs’ staff has been on the DL for about a month but returns this afternoon in what is probably his favorite place to pitch. He’s been dominant against the Cubs in the past at Wrigley and will look for another huge performance today. Burnett did not make a rehab start and is surely eager to get back on the mound. Ryan Reid was sent back to AAA to clear a roster spot for AJ (the bullpen won’t be short since Jeanmar Gomez has moved to the ‘pen).
Villanueva has been a reliever lately and should be on a short pitch count today – he’s done a good job in relief but hasn’t gone more than two innings in a game in quite a while (although he did start for a bit early in the season). That should give the Bucs a good shot to get in to the Cubs’ poor bullpen quickly.
Cubs vs. AJ
Bucs vs. Villanueva