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

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Last Injuries

Chicago Cubs

  • Brad Wieck

    Hamstring
    Late 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 toward the end of August.

  • Jose Quintana

    Thumb
    Late 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 latter part of August.

  • Kris Bryant

    Wrist
    Out Thurs | out

    Bryant has soreness in his left wrist and ring finger. He will not be in Thursday's lineup versus the Brewers.

  • Kyle Schwarber

    Knee
    Prob Thurs | probable

    Schwarber is dealing with a right knee contusion, but he is likely to be active for Thursday's matchup with the Brewers.

  • Jason Heyward

    Rest
    Ques Thurs | questionable

    Heyward is not likely to be in the starting lineup Thursday against the Brewers as he projected to be given the day to rest.

  • Kyle Schwarber

    Knee
    Out Wed | out

    Schwarber will not suit up against the Indians on Wednesday due to a right knee contusion.

  • 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.

Pittsburgh Pirates

  • Joe Musgrove

    Tricep
    Out indefinitely | 10-day IL

    Musgrove has ended up on the 10-day injured list with right triceps inflammation, and team management have yet to provide a return date.

  • Gregory Polanco

    Ribs
    Ques Thurs | questionable

    Polanco missed the last game due to bruised ribs, and his status for Thursday's matchup with the Reds is unknown.

  • Phillip Evans

    Concussion
    out for season | 45-day IL

    Evans has been assigned to the 45-day injured list with a concussion and a broken jaw. He will miss the remainder of the season.

  • Mitch Keller

    Oblique
    Mid Sept | 10-day IL

    Keller has wound up on the 10-day injured list with a left oblique strain, and he is likely to remain on the shelf until sometime in September.

  • Clay Holmes

    Forearm
    out for season | 45-day IL

    Holmes has been added to the 45-day injured list due to a right forearm strain. He is likely to miss the remainder of the season.

  • Keone Kela

    Illness
    Prob Thurs | COVID-19 IL

    Kela has been designated for the COVID-19 injured list due to a positive test. It is expected that he will be activated prior to Thursday's matchup versus the Reds.

  • Michael Feliz

    Forearm
    out for season | 45-day IL

    Feliz has been transferred to the 45-day injured list with a strained right forearm. He has been shut down for the remainder of the season.

  • Nick Burdi

    Elbow
    out for season | 45-day IL

    Burdi has been moved to the 45-day injured list with a right elbow injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.

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