If the Tuesday game happens to be the last home contest for All-Stars Willson Contreras and Ian Happ as Chicago Cubs, they each could enjoy continued success against the Pittsburgh Pirates — especially scheduled starter Bryse Wilson.
With the trade deadline looming, two of the Cubs’ most available stars look to try to help their club produce a sixth consecutive victory and a two-game series sweep of the visiting Pirates on Tuesday.
Though Chicago is amid its longest winning streak of the season, the club is 18 games under .500 and expected to be a seller before the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Contreras and Happ are perhaps the Cubs’ most appetizing trade pieces, and with an off-day Wednesday ahead of a seven-game road trip that ends Aug. 4, it could be the pair’s Wrigley Field swan song.
“You can’t say that you don’t think about it or that it’s not in your mind at all,” Happ, who is batting .325 at home in 2022, told Marquee Sports Network. “It’s real life, it’s your family and the place that you’ve been and a place you really care about.”
“I love it here, have loved it here, have loved all these experiences.”
Happ is batting .432 with three homers and nine RBIs during a 10-game hitting streak against Pittsburgh this season.
Contreras, part of the Cubs’ 2016 World Series squad, has three doubles and seven RBIs in eight home games against the Pirates in 2022.
Contreras and Happ are a combined 6-for-14 against Wilson (1-5, 6.52 ERA) all-time. The right-hander has allowed seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits with six walks over 8 1/3 innings in two appearances, including one start, against Chicago this year.
Wilson is set for his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis on July 17.
In the last game before the All-Star break, Wilson yielded two runs and four hits without a walk over 3 1/3 innings at Colorado. Despite going back and forth between the big-league club and Indianapolis in recent weeks, Wilson is 1-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three July starts.
Pittsburgh, which is looking to avoid a third consecutive loss, has averaged just 2.8 runs while going 2-7 since winning four straight from July 9-12. Despite the Pirates’ collective offensive woes, star Ke’Bryan Hayes had two hits on Monday and has hit safely in 11 of his past 12 games.
Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds returned on Monday from an oblique injury that kept him out 10 games. Reynolds went 0-for-4 in the series opener but is 5-for-8 against Chicago’s scheduled Tuesday starter, Keegan Thompson (7-4, 3.43 ERA).
“To have (Reynolds) back in our lineup, it kind of solidifies it. Lengthens it back out,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton told AT&T SportsNet PIT.
Thompson is 0-2 with a 4.43 ERA in four starts since he allowed a run, four hits, a walk and struck out seven over six innings of a 14-5 victory at Pittsburgh on June 22. That’s the only run the right-hander has yielded over 15 innings in three appearances, including two starts, against Pittsburgh in 2022.
However, Thompson is 0-2 with a 6.14 ERA in his past three home starts. He allowed five runs, eight hits and four walks over 4 1/3 innings against the visiting New York Mets on July 14 in his most recent outing.
–Field Level Media