Pirates Vs. Cubs Series Preview: Bucs Hurtle Toward Trade Deadline

July 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Erik Bedard (45) pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the third inning at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Erik Bedard starts Monday night in Chicago.

The Pirates' upcoming series against the Cubs at Wrigley Field will be a momentous one -- the Bucs won three of four against the Astros but didn't play particularly well, and the division-leading Reds, in the midst of a 10-game winning streak, seemingly can't lose. On top of that, the trade deadline is looming on Tuesday, and the Pirates must decide whether to further upgrade their roster after acquiring Wandy Rodriguez last week.

On Monday (8:05), the Pirates will send Erik Bedard to face Justin Germano, who will be making his first big-league start of the year after spending most of the season in the Red Sox' farm system. On Tuesday (8:05), it will be A.J. Burnett against Ryan Dempster, assuming Dempster, a much-rumored trade candidate, is still with the Cubs by then. Then on Wednesday (2:20), Jeff Karstens will take on Travis Wood.

These are winnable games for the Pirates, particularly if Dempster doesn't pitch. After some subpar showings in the past week, the Pirates will hope to seize the opportunity of another series against a below-average team. They'll then have a day off on Thursday before a brutal stretch of 20 straight game days.

For more on the Pirates, check out Bucs Dugout.

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