Chicago Cubs (Hammel 3-0, 0.75) at Pittsburgh Pirates (Cole 2-2, 2.78) 7pm ET on ESPN
Jason Hammel is having himself quite a 2016. In each of his 4 starts, he’s gone 6 innings, allowing only 2 runs total, for a National League low 0.75 ERA. His last start, against Cincinnati, was his best, as he gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks in 6 scoreless innings, while striking out 7. Hammel has given up a beefy 3.4 walks per 9, but has minimized the damage by giving up just 6 hits per 9, while not surrendering a single home run. Historically, Hammel has been far better in the first half of the season than in the second, and since 2011, April has been by far his best month, so this may just be more of the same, but he’s taken it to a new extreme, with impressive results.
Gerrit Cole had an unpleasant spring, as he wrestled with a rib injury that caused him to miss the first week of the season, and (rightly) took offense at the Pirates’ original contract offer that would’ve constituted a pay cut following a brilliant 2015 that saw him win 19 games and finish fourth in the Cy Young balloting. His 2016 debut was not his best work, as he got chased by the Reds after 4 ⅔ innings, getting touched for 3 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks in a 5-1 loss. His next two starts were more in keeping with his track record, as he struck out 12 in 12 innings, giving up just 1 run on 8 hits and a walk. But his last start was arguably his worst: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. But because 2 of the runs were unearned, it did minimal damage to his ERA, and because Andrew McCutchen launched 3 bombs, Cole got the W in a 9-4 defeat of Colorado.
The Cubbies come into this series the proud owners of the best record in all of baseball at 17-6, while the Pirates are 15-10, good enough for second place in the NL Central, 3 games behind Chicago.
Meanwhile, you can watch the following on your FOX Sports regional network:
Texas Rangers (Griffin 3-0, 2.52) at Toronto Blue Jays (Dickey 1-3, 6.25) 7:07 pm ET on FOX Sports Southwest
Atlanta Braves (Foltynewicz NA) at New York Mets (Colon 1-1, 3.42) 7:10 pm ET on FOX Sports Southeast
San Francisco Giants (Cueto 4-1, 2.65) at Cincinnati Reds (Finnegan 1-1, 3.86) 7:10 pm ET on FOX Sports Cincinnati
Los Angeles Angels (Weaver 3-0, 3.86) at Milwaukee Brewers (Nelson 3-2, 3.16) 7:20 pm ET on FOX Sports West & FOX Sports Wisconsin
Minnesota Twins (Berrios 0-1, 11.25) at Houston Astros (Keuchel 2-3, 4.41) 8:10 pm ET on FOX Sports North
Philadelphia Phillies (Hellickson 2-1, 3.81) at St. Louis Cardinals (Wainwright 1-3, 7.16) 8:15 pm ET on FOX Sports Midwest
Washington Nationals (Gonzalez 1-1, 1.42) at Kansas City Royals (Volquez 3-1, 3.34) 8:15 pm ET on FOX Sports Kansas City
Colorado Rockies (Gray 0-, 11.42) at San Diego Padres (Shields 0-4, 3.55) 10:10 pm ET on FOX Sports San Diego