MLB PREVIEWS |

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Chicago Cubs Preview and Predictions 08-02-2020

Jon Lester didn't even allow a hit in his first outing of the season.

The veteran left-hander will attempt to follow his strong debut with another solid showing when the Chicago Cubs host the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday and look to finish off a sweep of the three-game series.

Lester, 36, was pulled after five innings and 76 pitches in the start against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday. He struck out one, walked one and hit a batter and departed with a 7-0 lead. Chicago eventually won 8-7.

Avoiding distractions is part of the quest for Lester, who is in his 15th big-league season.

Obviously, he has never played baseball during a pandemic before, but he feels he and his teammates are handling the coronavirus situation well.

"All that we can really do is worry about the Chicago Cubs," Lester told reporters. "Guys around here, if you see somebody without a mask on walking around the clubhouse, guys point it out. So I think we're all accountable to each other, and that's a good thing. And hopefully we can continue to do that."

Lester went 3-0 with a 3.16 ERA in five starts against the Pirates last season to continue a pattern of success. He is 12-6 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 career starts versus Pittsburgh.

Lester has easily handled right fielder Gregory Polanco (2-for-16, eight strikeouts) but has struggled with second baseman Adam Frazier (6-for-11, two doubles).

The Cubs hit four total homers while winning the first two games of the series. Ian Happ and Javier Baez hit solo homers, and Kyle Schwarber smacked a two-run blast as Chicago recorded a 4-3 win on Saturday for its fifth victory in the past six games.

Chicago third baseman Kris Bryant was scratched from the lineup shortly before Saturday's game due to gastrointestinal issues, and he appears doubtful at best for the series finale.

"Got to run through standard protocols, just making sure with everything we got going on that he's feeling alright," Cubs manager David Ross said after Saturday's game. "We'll get him tested (for COVID-19) just as a precaution tomorrow morning."

The Pirates have lost three straight games but are receiving unexpected power from third baseman Colin Moran. He slugged a two-run homer in the ninth inning on Saturday to take over the major league homer lead with five.

Pittsburgh added another run later in the frame but fell short of recovering from a 4-0 deficit.

"This group doesn't quit," Pirates manager Derek Shelton told reporters afterward. "We continue to have good (at-bats) and have a chance to win the game late."

Left-hander Steven Brault will be on the mound for Pittsburgh. He worked two innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in his season debut on Monday but didn't return after a rain delay. He gave up one hit, two walks and struck out one.

Brault is expected to pitch three innings on Sunday with right-hander Chad Kuhl then entering as the replacement.

Brault has struggled against the Cubs, serving up 10 homers in 38 1/3 innings over 14 appearances (five starts). He is 0-2 with an 8.22 ERA.

Brault is 0-1 with a 10.29 ERA in nine appearances (three starts) at Wrigley Field. Bryant (8-for-16) and catcher Willson Contreras (5-for-11) each have smacked two homers off the 28-year-old.

"Haven't had quite as much success," Brault told reporters of facing the Cubs. "Ready to take them on and keep working."

Pittsburgh had two pitchers leave Saturday's game due to injuries -- starter Mitch Keller (left side discomfort) and fellow right-hander Michael Feliz (right forearm discomfort).

--Field Level Media

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Stadium

Wrigley Field
Chicago, Illinois, USA.
Capacity: 42,157

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Last Injuries

Chicago Cubs

  • James Norwood

    Shoulder
    Out indefinitely | 10-day IL

    Norwood has been added to the 10-day injured list with right shoulder inflammation. A timetable for recovery has yet to be established.

  • Daniel Descalso

    Ankle
    Out indefinitely | 45-day IL

    Descalso has been placed on the 45-day injured list with a left ankle sprain. The severity of the ailment is not known.

  • Kris Bryant

    Illness
    Prob Mon | probable

    Bryant sat out his second straight game due to a gastrointestinal illness, but he is expected to return to action Monday versus the Royals.

  • Brad Wieck

    Hamstring
    Mid Aug | 10-day IL

    Wieck has been designated for the 10-day injured list while he recovers from a strained right hamstring. He is expected to return to the mound in the middle of August.

  • Kris Bryant

    Elbow
    Prob Wed | probable

    Bryant was held out of the previous game due to a left elbow contusion, but he is expected to suit up Wednesday versus the Reds.

  • Willson Contreras

    Rest
    Ques Tues | questionable

    Contreras is unlikely to take part in Tuesday's matchup with the Reds due to rest purposes.

  • Jose Quintana

    Thumb
    Mid Aug | 10-day IL

    Quintana is on the 10-day injured list while recovering from surgery to repair nerve damage in his left thumb. He is expected to be sidelined until the middle of August.

  • Kris Bryant

    Back
    Prob Fri | probable

    Bryant is expected to suit up against the Brewers on Friday despite a stiff back.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Mitch Keller

    Oblique
    Mid Aug | 10-day IL

    Keller has wound up on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain, and the severity of the ailment is unknown.

  • Michael Feliz

    Forearm
    Out indefinitely | 45-day IL

    Feliz has been transferred to the 45-day injured list with a strained right forearm. He is in jeopardy of missing the remainder of the season.

  • Chad Kuhl

    Finger
    day-to-day | questionable

    Kuhl left the last game due to an abrasion to the cuticle of the right index finger. His availability for Monday's tilt with the Twins is up in the air.

  • JT Riddle

    Abdominal
    Mid Aug | 10-day IL

    Riddle has been shifted to the 10-day injured list due to a right abdomen strain. He is not expected to return until the middle part of August.

  • Gregory Polanco

    Rest
    Ques Mon | questionable

    Polanco is not expected to play Monday against the Twins due to a day of rest.

  • Josh Bell

    Rest
    Ques Sun | questionable

    Bell is not expected to be in the starting lineup Sunday against the Twins, as he will be given the day for rest.

  • Clay Holmes

    Forearm
    Out indefinitely | 10-day IL

    Holmes has been added to the 10-day injured list due to a right forearm strain. Team officials have yet to announce how much time he will miss.

  • Kyle Crick

    Shoulder
    Out indefinitely | 10-day IL

    Crick will spend an extended period on the 10-day injured list with a right shoulder and lat strain.

chicago-cubs Stats 2020

Hitting Statistics
Player G GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB SB K CS Avg SP OBP
Player G GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB SB K CS Avg SP OBP
Pitching Statistics
Player G GS OP ST HBPA HA HRA IWA RA SFA SHA SBSA WA PT
Player G GS OP ST HBPA HA HRA IWA RA SFA SHA SBSA WA PT
Field Statistics
Player GP GS CI SABC SCBC FE OA PB
Player GP GS CI SABC SCBC FE OA PB

pittsburgh-pirates Stats 2020

Hitting Statistics
Player G GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB SB K CS Avg SP OBP
Player G GS AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB SB K CS Avg SP OBP
Pitching Statistics
Player G GS OP ST HBPA HA HRA IWA RA SFA SHA SBSA WA PT
Player G GS OP ST HBPA HA HRA IWA RA SFA SHA SBSA WA PT
Field Statistics
Player GP GS CI SABC SCBC FE OA PB
Player GP GS CI SABC SCBC FE OA PB