You never know what the lineups might look like Thursday when the visiting Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates play the third and final game of their series — and not just because of normal day-game adjustments.
For the Cubs, who are going for a sweep, things keep changing as their training room continues to be a high-traffic zone. They have used 41 players, the latest being Rafael Ortega in Wednesday’s 4-1 win after Nico Hoerner was put on the injured-list.
Pittsburgh has used 43 players, and while injuries have been a problem, finding a group of players and a batting order that works has been even tougher.
“You mix it up a little bit, try and find a recipe that clicks and goes,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said.
In the series finale, Chicago right-hander Kyle Hendricks (4-4, 4.74 ERA) is slated to oppose Pittsburgh left-hander Tyler Anderson (3-4, 4.73 ERA).
Anderson has the task of bouncing back from his first real dud as a Pirate. He tied a career high with nine runs allowed Friday in a 20-1 loss at Atlanta. That came in a five-inning outing that included 10 hits, two walks, seven strikeouts and three homers — notably Ronald Acuna Jr.’s grand slam.
“It’s weird to say, but I felt like the pitches that they hit were executed,” said Anderson, whose ERA jumped from 3.50 to 4.73 that night. “If you look at the homers that they hit and the pitches that they hit, they were all pretty good pitches.”
He doesn’t sound gun shy about heading back out Thursday.
“Sometimes, it comes in bunches; sometimes, it doesn’t,” Anderson said of opponents’ scoring. “Sometimes, you’ll go out and shove and not give up a homer or go for four or five, throw the exact same game.
“We’ll see. We’ll just continue to go at it, make good pitches and see where it goes.”
Anderson is 3-2 with a 3.99 ERA in six career starts against the Cubs, including 1-2 in three starts this year.
This is a rematch of a game May 9 at Wrigley Field, when Anderson picked up the win in a 6-5 Pirates victory with a strong outing, allowing two runs in eight innings.
Hendricks that game gave up six runs, four of them earned, and nine hits in five innings, with one walk and three strikeouts.
He also got a loss against Pittsburgh April 1 and has lost three in a row at PNC Park.
Hendricks’ last outing was a win Friday at St. Louis when he allowed three runs, just one earned, and seven hits in 6 2/3 innings.
He has pitched into the seventh in three of his four May starts and seems to be following his reputed form of starting slow — a 7.54 ERA in five starts in April — before settling down in May. He has a 2.36 ERA in his four outings this month.
“I want to be that guy that my team can rely on,” Hendricks said. “They know what they’re going to get when I take the ball and go out there every fifth day. … It’s a good sign that my stuff’s moving well and I’m changing speeds well. So I just need to keep being myself so this team can know what to expect from me.”
In 21 career starts against Pittsburgh, Hendricks is 6-10 with a 3.36 ERA.
–Field Level Media