There’s a lot at stake for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who could be forced to play catch-up in the NL Central with the Chicago Cubs.
If the Pirates lose to the Chicago White Sox in a three-game series Wednesday night, they’ll finish a game behind the Pittsburgh Cardinals for second place in the division and the final wild-card spot in the National League.
The Pirates also would lose a chance to clinch a wild-night spot if the Cubs lose to Milwaukee in the opener.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has had to play fast and loose to keep the Pirates in the playoff picture.
Hurdl’s team has the best record in the AL West.
But he also has the biggest obstacle to overcome in his bullpen.
The left-hander has allowed 11 earned runs in five innings of work this season.
He’s allowed eight runs in two starts, allowing 10 earned runs and striking out four.
The only other pitcher to have more starts this season with fewer earned runs is Tampa Bay Rays reliever Sean Manaea, who had nine games with 10 earned run or more.
Hogg has been dealing with a sore back for most of the season, but he’s pitching at a career-best clip with a 2.81 ERA.
Hagg’s fastball has been at 91.6 mph in his past four starts.
Pirates starters have combined to go 5-2 with a 1.75 ERA against Hogg this season and are 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA when he’s been on the mound.
If Hogg does not pitch well against the Cubs, he’ll have to start the season on the disabled list.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have been struggling to score runs.
The club has scored two runs in seven innings in its past four games, which was the most runs allowed by a Pirates pitcher since June 10, 2016, when the team allowed four in three innings.
The team has scored a run in each of its past five games.
The Cubs are coming off an 8-1 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday night.
Their next game is Tuesday night at Chicago.
The Bears are coming into the series against the Pirates with a 7-2 record.