Starting pitching set the tone
In each of the three wins the Pittsburgh Pirates secured against the Cubs they got a strong starting pitching performance.
While JT Brubaker had to overcome a pitch count that spiked early, he battled through it and gave the Pirates 6 innings of 5-hit shutout ball in game one. He walked 3 and struck out 5. Brubaker now owns a 3.45 ERA, 4.12 FIP, 8.6% walk rate and a 22.6% strikeout rate across 62.2 innings pitched in his last 12 starts.
In game two it was clear early on that Roansy Contreras did not have his good stuff. Despite this, the lone run he allowed was a solo home run. He also struck out 3 batters in 5 innings pitched. This type of outing when a pitcher does not have their good stuff is the sign of a great starting pitcher.
The series finale saw José Quintana get back on track after hitting a recent slump. The veteran lefty kept his former team in check, limiting the Cubs to 2 runs on 6 hits, a walk and 6 strikeouts in 6 innings pitched. Quintana now owns a 3.60 ERA and a 3.72 FIP this season. With Quintana putting together his best season since 2016 and one of the best of his career, he should be a great trade chip next month.
Starting pitching is always the key in baseball and that was on full display in this series. In the three games the Pirates got a strong outing from their starting pitcher, Cub starters combined to allow 18 runs in 12 innings pitch. In the lone Pirate loss of the series, Jerad Eickhoff had a historically poor start while Cub starter Keegan Thompson allowed just a solo home run while striking out 7 in 6 innings pitched.