The Cubs have won two straight against the Pirates and four in a row overall to move all the way up to 10th in the reverse standings. That gives them a mere 1.8% chance of landing the top pick in next year’s draft, and there’s not much time left to “improve” to anything better than 3.9% for eighth-worst. The upside is that we’re seeing some scrappy baseball featuring either feel-good stories or future standouts.
Zach McKinstry leads off at short, Esteban Quiroz is at second, Patrick Wisdom is in right, and Ian Happ is in left tonight. Yan Gomes is the catcher, Franmil Reyes is the DH, David Bote is at third, and Jared Young is at first. Christopher Morel bats ninth in center.
Wade Miley was roughed up pretty badly his last time out, though only three of the seven runs he gave up were earned. He lasted just three innings in that one and was pitching on more than a week of rest, so he should be able to offer the Cubs a little length tonight. Getting back to his earlier form will keep the Cubs in the game.
Johan Oviedo is making his sixth start of the season and his first appearance against the Cubs as a member of the Pirates. His first start actually came in his season debut against the Cubs, after which he worked out of the arm barn until being traded to Pittsburgh in the José Quintana deal. Oviedo’s results as a starter have been mixed, with the one common thread being a propensity for walks.
The Cubs got the better of him with three runs on eight hits back on June 4, including a big homer from Frank Schwindel (sad face). Oviedo allowed one run on three hits in a relief appearance three weeks later. His overall numbers look pretty good, but he has 21 strikeouts and 17 walks in 18.2 innings as a starter to this point.
Oviedo hasn’t really varied his pitch mix since moving back to the rotation, so remains a fastball/slider pitcher. He uses his 96 mph four-seam about 43% of the time to set up the slider at 38%, then the curve and change are both around 9% usage. All of those secondaries are plus pitches and you’d think Oviedo would find more success as a result, but he isn’t locating the heater well enough.
He’s right around league-average in terms of called and swinging strikes, first-pitch strikes, and in-zone percentages, so maybe his issues stem from sequencing. Or it could just be that the lack of variety allows hitters to pick up on his stuff and adjust as the game goes along. Oviedo has a 1.00 ERA and limits batters to a .156 average the first time through, but those numbers jump to 8.59 and .241 the second time through.
Though the sample is limited, he’s got a 7.71 ERA and a .455 average against when turning the lineup over one more time. If the Pirates allow Oviedo to go deep in this one, the Cubs should be able to take advantage.
First pitch from Pittsburgh is at 5:35pm CT on Marquee and 670 The Score.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) September 24, 2022