Archive for the ‘ Series Previews ’ Category

Series Preview – Mets @ Cubs; May 17 – May 19, 2013

Mets preview

The Cubs are coming into this series playing their best baseball of 2013, and maybe of the last three years.  They have won two series in a row, both against contending teams in the Nationals, on the road, and the Rockies.  The Mets on the other hand are floundering as they are 3-7 in their last ten games and have fallen to 15-23 on the season.  Despite boasting one, if not the best young arm in baseball in Matt Harvey, the Mets pitching is what is doing them in.  Wright previewThey come into this series with a team ERA of 4.50, which is twenty-sixth best in all of baseball.  The Cubs hold the advantage here as they come into this series with a 3.72 team ERA which is good for twelfth in the Majors.  If you break it down even further you can see that the Mets bullpen has been a real issue in the early going, they have a bullpen ERA of 4.85, which is twenty-eighth in baseball, that won’t help you win a lot of games.  Slowly but surely the Cubs have improved offensively, they still aren’t a juggernaut but they are now twenty-third in baseball with 160 runs scored on the season.  The Mets aren’t much better as they have scored 165 runs which is good for twentieth in baseball.  The key to this series for the Cubs will be to get to the Mets pen as early as possible, not always an easy task but it would go a long way towards winning the series if they could exploit that weakness as they hold the starting pitching edge and should be able to limit the Mets offense.  To recap, get an early lead, Cubs starters shut down the Mets lineup, and exploit the Mets pen, ta-da!

Last Series:

The Cubs took two out of three from the Rockies at Wrigley earlier this week.

The Mets lost three out of four to the Cardinals in St. Louis.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Friday, May 17, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN
  • Saturday, May 18 2013 – 12:05 PM CST on WGN
  • Sunday, May 19, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Edwin Jackson (1-5, 6.02)
– Career vs. Mets (4 GS) (1-1, 4.50)

Game Two – Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.53)
– Career vs. Mets (1 GS) (0-1, 10.80)

Game Three – Travis Wood (4-2, 2.03)
– Career vs. Mets (3 GS) (2-0, 2.55)

Mets:

Game One – Matt Harvey (4-0, 1.44)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)

Game Two – Jeremy Hefner (0-4, 4.61)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 appearance, 0 GS) (0-0, 0.00)

Game Three – Dillon Gee (2-5, 6.13)
– Career vs. Cubs (3 GS) (2-1, 4.26)

Bold Prediction:

As I mentioned, the Cubs are playing well and I think this series is extremely important as we move forward in 2013.  I know that sounds odd considering we have just reached the quarter pole of the season, but hear me out.  The Cubs have shown flashes of great baseball, followed by huge let downs, it seems they take one step forward and two steps back.  Castro preview 5-17The first goal is to get back to .500 and winning this series goes a long way towards that in my opinion, if they lose this series we will see more of the same as they team hovers around 5-10 games under .500, which isn’t terrible for this group I guess.  But winning this series could put them on a really nice run, I think the Cubs will win this series, take two out of three at least, a sweep isn’t out of the question, but that all depends on what happens today as the Mets have a clear advantage on the mound.  If the Cubs win today, they sweep, if not, they take two out of three.  GO CUBS!

George header

Series Preview – Rockies @ Cubs; May 13 – May 15, 2013

Rockies preview

  The Cubs are ready to go on a run, I really believe that considering it’s been about two years since they put together an honest to God winning streak.  I think they have the opportunity to build on their last two wins in Washington, the next test won’t be easy, but the chance is there for the Cubs to reel off some wins here.  The Rockies come to town for a three game series starting tonight, and it all starts with their offensive attack.  The Rockies have scored 177 runs, that’s good for seventh best in the Majors, yeah Helton previewI know, the Rockies always score runs as they play in a launching pad.  While that’s true the Rockies have been equally as good on the road this year as they have scored 86 runs on the road compared to 91 at home, that’s not a normal Rockies attack.  The Cubs starters will be tasked with shutting down that Rockies attack, and that plays a huge role in whether or not the Cubs will be successful in this series.  The Cubs starters have an ERA of 3.50 which is sixth best in the Majors, that is where the Cubs hold the advantage in this series as the Rockies have a team starters ERA of 4.20 which is nineteenth best in baseball.  Based on the numbers the Cubs have a really good chance to get late into the game with a lead, that is where the Cubs pen has to step up because if the Rockies have a lead late they usually don’t let it go.  The Cubs bullpen ERA is 4.13 which is twenty-fourth best in  baseball, the Rockies on the other hand have a bullpen ERA of 2.73, which is third in all of baseball.  The Cubs need to get out to a quick lead, and hope their starters get deep enough to eliminate as much of their own bullpen as possible, if they do that it could be a very successful series.

Last Series:

The Cubs took two out of three games from the Nationals in Washington over the weekend.

The Rockies lost two out of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis, and have lost four out their last five.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, May 13, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WCIU
  • Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Wednesday, May 15, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (3-2, 2.33)
– Career vs. Rockies (3 appearances, 2 GS) (0-1, 2.77)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 3.02)
– Career vs. Rockies (11 appearances, 0 GS) (0-1, 10.05)

Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-5, 3.70)
– Career vs. Rockies (5 appearances, 1 GS) (0-0, 2.25)

Rockies:

Game One – Juan Nicasio (3-0, 4.72)
– Career vs. Cubs (first appearance)

Game Two – Jeff Francis (1-3, 6.90)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (1-0, 7.67)

Game Three – Jon Garland (3-3, 4.83)
– Career vs. Cubs (12 appearances, 8 GS) (4-4, 3.61)

Bold Prediction:

The Cubs should carry the momentum they generated in Washington over the weekend into this series, at least I hope so.  I really think they will, and I like the match ups on the mound to favor the Cubs.  As long as the Cubs can play solid defense they have an outside shot to sweep this series, and I think that’s what they will do, sweep the Rockies.  As in Washington, the only game the Cubs dropped was the one where they shot themselves in the foot defensively, that’s the only way I see the Cubs losing a game in this series.

George header

Series Preview – Cubs @ Nationals; May 10 – May 12, 2013

Nats preview

The stretch of facing contenders continues for the Cubs this weekend in Washington as they take on the exciting Nationals.  The Cubs last trip to Washington didn’t go so well as they were swept in a four game series, well swept is to kind of a word, they were embarrassed in a four game series.  There was also a bench clearing incident between the two clubs which centered around Steve Clevenger and at the time third base coach of the Nats Bo Porter, Harper previewneither will be in Washington this weekend.  Here’s a fun fact that you probably were not aware of, the Cubs have actually scored more runs this year than the Nationals.  That’s right, the Cubs have scored 128 runs, and the Nats have scored 121, both teams are near the bottom of baseball in that category, however the Nats are above .500 and the Cubs, well, aren’t.  The Nationals get it done with pitching, but still are not that much better than the Cubs.  The Nats have a team ERA of 3.47 which is good for seventh in the Majors while the Cubs sit at thirteenth with a 3.77 ERA.  The difference is the Nationals bullpen more times than not gets the job done, they have a team ERA of 3.57 which is fifteenth best in baseball while the Cubs are twenty-fifth best with a 4.57 bullpen ERA.  Too many game this year have been lost by the Cubs pen, a failing bullpen will not be good enough against good teams, as evidenced by the Reds, and Cardinals series.  Should be a fun weekend, and hopefully we see a better showing than last year, nothing could be worse really.

Last Series:

The Cubs split a two game series with the Cardinals at Wrigley.

The Nats swept a two game series at home against Detroit, they have won four straight heading into tonights game.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Friday, May 10, 2013 – 6:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Saturday, May 11, 2013 – 3:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Sunday May 12, 2013 – 12:05 PM CST on WGN TV

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.09)
– Career vs. Nationals (9 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 1.48)

Game Two – Edwin Jackson (0-5, 6.39)
– Career vs. Nationals (2 appearances, 1 GS) (0-0, 1.13)

Game Three – Scott Feldman (3-3, 2.70)
– Career vs. Nationals (First appearance)

Nationals:

Game One – Ross Detwiler (1-3, 2.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (3 GS) (2-1, 2.60)

Game Two – Stephen Strasburg (1-4, 3.45)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-0, 1.29)

Game Three – Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.97)
– Career vs. Cubs (3 GS) (1-1, 5.74)

Bold Prediction:

The Nationals have gotten hot recently, winning four straight games heading into this series.  The Cubs will need to play error free baseball and get improved performances from their bullpen if they want to compete in this series.  I still think the Nationals will take two out of three this weekend.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Cardinals @ Cubs; May 7 – May 8, 2013

Cardinals preview header

Bring on the Cardinals.  The Red Birds and their fans descend on Wrigley Field tonight for a quick two game series against the Cubs.  The Cubs haven’t seen the Cardinals all year, but they know what to expect.  The Cardinals are scoring runs, as they usually do, they have scored 150 runs so far Cardinals previewthis year which is good for seventh in all of baseball.  The Cubs on the other hand have scored just 122 runs and sit twenty-second in the majors, but they are steadily improving.  The Cubs typically have the pitching advantage as they have started out so well this year, well that’s not the case in this series.  The Cardinals pitching is a big reason why they have the second most wins in the Majors (20-11), they have a team ERA of 3.09 which is tops in all of baseball. The Cubs are no slouch when it comes to team ERA as they sit at 3.82, good for eleventh in the Majors.  It should be a good series featuring some good pitching.  The team that makes the fewest mistakes will have the most success, that usually holds true throughout baseball, but it’s even more clear in this series.  Coming into this one the Cubs have committed a league worst twenty-seven errors, the Cardinals have only committed thirteen, fifth fewest in the Majors.  Pitch, hit, field…. win.

Central standings 5-7

Last Series:

The Cubs lost two out of three to the Reds at home, and beat the Rangers yesterday in a make up game.

The Cardinals swept the Brewers in Milwaukee, it was a three game sweep, and the Cardinals have won six straight.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Tuesday, May 7, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Wednesday, May 8, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (2-2, 2.50)
– Career vs. Cardinals (6 GS) (2-2, 5.36)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (1-2, 2.85)
– Career vs. Cardinals (25 appearances, 7 GS) (5-3, 3.10)

Cardinals:

Game One – Lance Lynn (5-0, 2.75)
– Career vs. Cubs (5 appearances, 4 GS) (4-0, 2.73)

Game Two – Jake Westbrook (2-1, 1.07)
– Career vs. Cubs (8 GS) (5-2, 4.14)

Bold Prediction:

The Cardinals are playing their best baseball of the year, winning six straight heading into tonight.  The Cubs have shown flashes of brilliance yet still find ways to lose games because of themselves.  The result, I think the Cubs split with the Cardinals in this brief series.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Reds @ Cubs; May 3 – May 5, 2013

Reds preview

The Cubs come into this series playing well, okay, play well for most of the game I guess.  The Cubs could have very easily taken three out of four from the Padres, or two out of three from the Reds last month, but they just can’t get out of their own way.  Today the Cubs welcome those Reds to Wrigley Field for a three game weekend set, and hopefully some revenge as well.  The Reds took two out of three from the Cubs in Cincinnati the last time these two teams met.  chapman previewIt was a great series, and the Cubs pitchers shut down the Reds vaunted lineup, but couldn’t find a big hit the whole series, or a closer the whole series and ended up losing two out of three.  It will be another challenge this weekend for the Cubs pitchers as the Reds continue to hit and score runs, they have scored 128 runs, good enough for sixth in baseball compared to the 100 runs the Cubs have scored which is 26th in baseball.  The Reds team ERA is also impressive, currently they sit fourth in the Majors with a 3.32 ERA, the Cubs are not too far behind though, they have a team ERA of 3.72, that’s good for twelfth in the Majors.  This should be a good series, hopefully the results are better this time around.

Last Series:

The Cubs split a four game series with the Padres at Wrigley.

The Reds lost two out of three to the Cardinals in St. Louis

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Friday, May 3, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Saturday, May 4, 2013 – 12:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Sunday, May 5, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 2.29)
– Career vs. Reds (21 appearances, 6 GS) (2-2, 3.72)

Game Two – Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.35)
– Career vs. Reds (17 appearances, 3 GS) (1-2, 4.09)

Game Three – Edwin Jackson (0-4, 6.27)
– Career vs. Reds (3 GS) (1-0, 2.57)

Reds:

Game One – Mike Leake (1-1, 4.34)
– Career vs. Cubs (11 GS) (4-2, 3.46)

Game Two – Tony Cingrani (2-0, 1.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-0, 2.57)

Game Three – Mat Latos (2-0, 1.83)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (3-2, 2.58)

Bold Prediction:

The Cubs are playing better baseball, but it’s still not good enough to win games consistently at the Major League level.  I think too many mistakes pop up again this weekend and the Cubs lose two out of three to the Reds.  Prove me wrong….please?

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Padres @ Cubs; April 29 – May 2, 2013

Padres preview

The Cubs are playing better baseball of late, and they were finally rewarded with a few wins in Miami as they took three out of four.  The Cubs starting pitching really didn’t miss a beat this past weekend as they continued to turn in quality start after quality start.  The pitching has been better than anyone could have imagined up to this point in the season.  Currently the Cubs team Padres 4-29ERA is 3.42 that is ninth best in all of baseball.  Breaking that down even further, just looking at the starters the Cubs ERA is 3.14 which is good for fifth in the Majors, impressive.  The Cubs staff should have continues success this week against the Padres as they are twenty-sixth in all of baseball in runs scored, part of that has to do with where they play their home games, the other part has to do with their sub par lineup that has been slow to get going.  The Padres pitching hasn’t taken advantage of the comfortable surroundings of Petco Park however,  as they have a team ERA of 4.39 which is “good” enough for twenty-sixth in baseball.  All signs point to a successful series for the Cubs, but they still have to execute, if they do they should be able to win this series.

Last Series:

The Cubs won three out of four in Miami over the Marlins

The Padres swept a three game series from the Giants in San Diego

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, April 29, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN+ (Channel Finder)
  • Tuesday, April 30, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WCIU, MLBN
  • Wednesday, May 1, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Thursday, May 2, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.03)
– Career vs. Padres (4 appearances, 2 GS) (2-1, 2.20)

Game Two – Edwin Jackson (0-3, 4.76)
– Career vs. Padres (8 appearances, 6 GS) (0-3, 4.32)

Game Three – Scott Feldman (1-3, 3.92)
– Career vs. Padres (2 appearances, 1 GS) (1-1, 5.40)

Game Four – Travis Wood (2-1, 2.25)
– Career vs. Padres (5 appearances, 4 GS) (0-1, 4.21)

Padres:

Game One – Clayton Richard (0-2, 7.94)
– Career vs. Cubs (2 GS) (2-0, 0.57)

Game Two – Edinson Volquez (1-3, 6.39)
– Career vs. Cubs (6 GS) (4-0, 2.21)

Game Three – Andrew Cashner (1-1, 3.26)
– Career vs. Cubs (2 appearances) (0-0, 9.00)

Game Three – Eric Stults (2-2, 5.67)
– Career vs. Cubs (4 GS) (1-3, 5.21)

Bold Prediction:

I like the direction of the Cubs right now, I know it’s hard to say that with a straight face, but this team could easily be contending in the Central without bullpen blow ups.  I think the good vibes continue in this series and the Cubs take three out of four again.  Committed is the Cubs slogan, maybe I should be with all my positive thoughts, go Cubs!

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Cubs @ Marlins; April 25 – April 28, 2013

Marlins Preview Header

Well, based on the records, this could be an ugly series as the Cubs come in at 6-14 with the Marlins sporting a 5-16 record, that’s a lot of losses.  As one could imagine, it hasn’t gone well of late for either team as the Cubs are 2-8 ion their last ten games, of course at least half of those losses could be wins, and the Marlins are 3-7 in their last ten.  The Marlins struggles are similar to the that of the Cubs, they can’t score runs.  The Marlins have the worst team batting average in all of baseball (.221), the Cubs aren’t much better at .229 (26th in MLB).  The Marlins are also dead last in runs scored with 54, eleven fewer than the Cubs on the season.  The Cubs also hold the edge in the pitching department as they sport a 3.44 team ERA which is 9th best in all of baseball, think about that for a second, the Cubs have the 9th best ERA yet sit eight games under .500 this year.  The Marlins team ERA is a full run worse than that of the Cubs, they sit 26th in the Majors at 4.50.  All signs point to a successful weekend in Miami for the Cubs, but they still have to go out there and perform.

Cubs Standings 4-24

Marlins Standings 4-24

Last Series:

The Cubs left Cincinnati wanting more, they lost two of three and could have easily won two of three.

The Marlins split a rain shortened series in Minnesota.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Thursday, April 24, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WCIU
  • Friday, April 25, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Saturday, April 26, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on CSN+ (Channel Finder)
  • Sunday, April 27, 2013 – 12:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Edwin Jackson (0-3, 4.84)
– Career vs. Marlins (8 appearances, 7 GS) (1-6, 6.69)

Game Two – Scott Feldman (0-3, 4.50)
– Career vs. Marlins (First appearance)

Game Three – Travis Wood (1-1, 2.08)
– Career vs. Marlins (2 GS) (0-2, 16.88)

Game Four – Carlos Villanueva (1-0, 1.53)
– Career vs. Marlins (10 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 5.79)

Marlins:

Game One – Kevin Slowey (0-2, 1.90)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (1-0, 4.50)

Game Two – Wade LeBlanc (0-3, 6.27)
– Career vs. Cubs (2 appearances, 1 GS) (1-0, 2.08)

Game Three – Alex Sanabia (2-2, 5.09)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-1, 3.18)

Game Three – Ricky Nolasco (1-2, 3.81)
– Career vs. Cubs (8 appearances, 7 GS) (4-2, 2.85)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

The Cubs have struggled all season long with runners in scoring position, even more troubling is their inability to get runners in from third base and less than two outs.  That is a situation where contact needs to be made and the run needs to score.  So far this season the Cubs have had twenty-three at bats with a runner at third with less than two outs, they only have two hits, that’s a .077 average.  They have only scored eleven times in those twenty-three chances, David DeJesus, Starlin Castrofor one, they need more chances, and two they need to capitalize starting yesterday.  Anthony Rizzo is having better at bats as of late unfortunately that is not yielding better results.  Over his last six games Rizzo is hitting .185 (5-for-27), he does have three home runs and five RBI’s during that stretch.  Darwin Barney has struggled mightily at the plate since returning from the DL, he is hitting .174 (4-for-23) in his last six games, but does have a game winning homer.  David DeJesus has been lighting it up of late, he is hitting .368 (7-for-19) over the last six games with a double, a triple, two home runs, three RBI’s, and four walks.  On the mound, Carlos Villanueva has been outstanding in his last two starts going 1-0 with a 2.35 ERA only giving up seven hits in 15.1 innings.

The Marlins glaring issues are scoring runs, and then preventing them once the bullpen comes into the game, sounds familiar, eh?  I mentioned the Marlins offensive woes above, but their bullpen ERA is just as bad.  The Rob Brantly 4-24 previewMarlins sit 28th in the Majors in bullpen ERA with a 4.98 ERA, which is worse than the Cubs if you can believe that.  Get ready for a lot of names that you probably don’t know, starting now.  Not much has gone right at the plate for the Marlins, but Rob Brantly has been a bright spot lately.  Over the last five games Brantly is hitting .313 (5-for16) with three doubles, four RBI’s, and two walks.  Justin Ruggiano on the other hand has been awful in the last seven games hitting .207 (6-for-29), of those six hits two have left the park.  Ryan Webb has been one of the few bright spots out of the Marlins pen of late as he has tossed six innings over the last seven days giving up only one run.  Jon Rauch has been stupid bad in his last two appearances, giving up five runs on four hits in 1.2 innings.

Bold Prediction:

These close games are bound to start going in the favor of the Cubs, and I think that starts now.  The way the Cubs staff has been throwing the ball I like their chances against a weak Marlins line up.  I also think the Cubs will start getting some timely hits and take three out of four this weekend….please??

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Cubs @ Reds; April 22 – April 24, 2013

Time to start playing good baseball, and getting some wins, and no better time than right now.  The Cubs travel to Cincinnati to take on the first place Reds for a three game series beginning tonight.  The Reds have been playing solid baseball as of late as they are 6-4 in their last ten games, and have won seven of eight.  The Cubs are the exact opposite, having lost three straight and only winning three times in their last ten games.  The Reds are also clicking on all cylinders at home as they have an impressive 10-3 home record, if they could do anything on the road they might have a three or four game lead in the division, but they are only 1-5 away from Great American Ballpark.  As bad as the Cubs have been, they are only 4.5 games out of first in a tightly packed Central Division, time to get hot, hopefully it starts tonight.

Central Standings 4-22

Last Series:

The Cubs came up empty in Milwaukee, getting swept in the three game series.

The Reds took three out of four from the Marlins in Cincinnati.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Monday, April 22, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Tuesday, April 23, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Wednesday, April 24, 2013 – 11:35 AM CST on CSN Chicago, MLBN

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (1-1, 1.83)
– Career vs. Reds (2 GS) (0-1, 5.25)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 1.83)
– Career vs. Reds (20 appearances. 5 GS) (2-2, 3.99)

Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-3, 3.38)
– Career vs. Reds (16 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 4.67)

Reds:

Game One – Mike Leake (1-0, 4.26)
– Career vs. Cubs (10 GS)  (4-2, 3.56)

Game Two – Tony Cingrani (1-0, 1.80)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Game Three – Mat Latos (0-0, 2.73)
– Career vs. Cubs (5 GS) (2-2, 3.16)

Bold Prediction:

I’m going into this series extremely positive, the Cubs have been in too many close games to keep losing at the clip they are.  Unfortunately, this is a tough place to play and the Reds are playing well and have more talent, I think the Reds take two of three from the Cubs.  BUT, if the Cubs defense actually defends I think the Cubs take two out of three.  Keep an eye on Tony Cingrani in game two of the series, he is an outstanding young talent, and highly touted pitching prospect.  Soon the Cubs will have guys like that, at least I hope they will.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Cubs @ Brewers; April 19 – April 21, 2013

No rain outs this weekend!  It seems as though the Brewers have found a groove since playing the Cubs as they are playing better of late.  Yesterday’s Cubs game was very encouraging as far as the offense goes, it was some of the best contact of the year, and they will see the best weather they have all year in Milwaukee, thanks roof.  I really think the bats want to take off, Anthony Rizzo hit the ball hard in almost every at bat yesterday, Soriano hit his first home run yesterday, and Castro walked twice yesterday, all good things.  Always a fun series in Milwaukee as a lot of Cubs fans usually make the trip up there, and it is rather important that the Cubs get off to a good start to this trip in Milwaukee or this ten game trip might not turn out so great.

Standings 4-19

Last Series:

The Cubs split a rain shortened two game set with the Rangers at home.

The Brewers swept a three game series against the Giants in Milwaukee.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Friday, April 19, 2013 – 7:10 PM CST on WCIU
  • Saturday, April 20, 2013 – 6:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Sunday, April 21, 2013 – 1:10 PM CST on CSN Chicago

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 2.75)
– Career vs. Brewers (17 appearances, 3 GS) (2-3, 3.93)

Game Two – Edwin Jackson (0-2, 6.06)
– Career vs. Brewers (8 GS) (3-3, 3.57)

Game Three – Scott Feldman (0-2, 6.00)
– Career vs. Brewers (1 GS) (1-0, 0.00)

Brewers:

Game One – Marco Estrada (1-0, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (9 appearances,  4 GS)  (3-0, 3.56)

Game Two – Hiram Burgos (0-1, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance, Major League Debut)

Game Three – Wily Peralta (0-1, 6.19)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS) (0-0, 2.70)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

The Cubs hitting seems to be picking things up, sure it’s really only one game, but at this point I’ll take it.  The Cubs could be considered to be falling on some back luck recently, especially in the Giants series.  The Cubs went 3-6 on the rain shortened home stand and the record Castillo previewcould have been the exact opposite if they could just close games out.  Welington Castillo has been red-hot really all season long, as he is hitting .425 on the season with three double, a home run, and four RBI’s.  Starlin Castro is also gaining traction at the plate as he has his average up to .311 with four doubles, a triple, two home runs, and six RBI’s.  Anthony Rizzo has been struggling a bit, but found some bad luck recently with line outs, I think he has a big series in Milwaukee, he looks better at the plate of late.  The Cubs starting pitching has been outstanding this year, the cumulative ERA is 3.15 which is sixth best in the Majors, conversely the bullpen ERA is 5.73 which is 29th in the Majors.  Obviously, if that number is just a little bit lower the Cubs could have four or five more wins.

The Brewers are coming off an impressive showing against the defending champion Giants sweeping the three game set and outscoring them 21 to 13.  Carlos Gomez is scorching hot for the Lucroy previewBrewers, over the last five games he’s hitting .556 (10-for18) with a triple, home run, and two RBI’s.  Jonathan Lucroy seems to have snapped out of his early season slump as well, he is hitting .350 (7-for-20) in his last five games with two home runs and five RBI’s.  Ryan Braun has gone ice-cold, some are blaming a neck injury that he is coming off of because you just don’t see these types of numbers from him, he’s hitting .091 (2-for-22) in his last six games, those two hits were home runs.  Milwaukee’s pitching is what is holding them back right now, and it’s been a mix of starters not getting the job done, and the bullpen being very unpredictable.  Their team ERA is 4.75 which is good for 26th in the Majors.

Bold Prediction:

I like the way the Cubs swung the bats against the Rangers yesterday and I think the warm weather (inside) in Milwaukee will continue that trend.  I think the Cubs win two out of three this weekend, and might have an opportunity to sweep on Sunday.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Series Preview – Rangers @ Cubs; April 16 – April 18, 2013

The Cubs welcome another tough opponent to Wrigley, quite the back-to-back series as the Cubs, who are coming off a series with Giants now entertain the Texas Rangers.  As bad as the weather was this past weekend it might be even worse this week.  Tomorrow’s game looks okay, but Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be wet, very wet, 70% chance of rain each day.  Obviously with this being an inter-league series they will do everything they can to get these games in.  Darwin Barney is scheduled to make his return to the Cubs lineup tomorrow, and he has been missed greatly in the defensive lineup.  One could say the Cubs have had some bad luck in the early going this year, but they have made most of that luck, if they just convert their save opportunities this team could be no worse than .500, just have to keep fighting.

Last Series:

The Cubs lost three out of four to the Giants at home.

The Rangers split a four game series with the Mariners in Seattle.

Game Times and Broadcast Information:

  • Tuesday, April 16, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on CSN Chicago
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2013 – 7:05 PM CST on WGN TV
  • Thursday, April 18, 2013 – 1:20 PM CST on WGN TV. MLBN

Starting Pitchers Scheduled:

Cubs:

Game One – Travis Wood (1-0, 1.46)
– Career vs. Rangers (First appearance)

Game Two – Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.64)
– Career vs. Rangers (8 appearances, 2 GS) (1-1, 3.16)

Game Three – Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 2.75)
– Career vs. Rangers (First appearance)

Rangers:

Game One – Derek Holland (0-1, 2.40)
– Career vs. Cubs (1 GS)  (0-0, 3.00)

Game Two – Justin Grimm (0-1, 4.50)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Game Three – Alexi Ogando (2-0, 1.08)
– Career vs. Cubs (First appearance)

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not:

Let’s start with “not” for the Cubs.  The bullpen, and defense, both have been a disaster lately, and for the most part of the year.  The pen has been bad at the worst time too, in the seventh inning or later the Cubs have a bullpen ERA of 5.67 Castro previewwhich is 29th in the Majors.  That number alone says a lot as the Cubs have had a chance to win pretty much every game they have played so far this year, maddening.  Carlos Villanueva has been a big part of getting the ball to the seventh inning this year as he has been outstanding, unfortunately he has nothing to show for it except a sparkling 0.64 ERA.  Starlin Castro has basically made up for his slow start in the last seven days as he is hitting .379 over that period of time.  The only guy hotter is David DeJesus who is hitting .381 over that same period of time.  Another big reason for the Cubs early season struggles has been their success or lack thereof with runners in scoring position, they are hitting a paltry .141, 29th in the Majors.

The Rangers look rather different this year, but still come into this series with an 8-5 record.  Gone are Josh Hamilton and Michael Young, but the Rangers have persevered early in the season.  A big reason is the play of two newcomers, Lance Berkman, and everyones favorite catcher, A.J. Pierzynski.  Berkman is hitting .389 in the early going, and Pierzynski is hitting .342 so far.  Ian Kinsler has found some power in the early going and has stayed healthy, he’s Rangershitting .292 with four home runs and nine RBI’s.  David Murphy is struggling mightily, he is hitting .160 on the season, that’s with fifty at bats too (8-for-50).   Yu Darvish is the high-profile name on the Rangers staff, but the guy that is pitching like a number one is Alexi Ogando, and the Cubs will see the latter in this series.  Ogando has been outstanding, he is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA, and opponents are hitting only .194 against him this season.  The Rangers also boast the fourth best bullpen in all of baseball with a 2.06 ERA from their relief pitchers.  Moral of the story, get to their starters early.

Bold Prediction:

The Cubs win the two out of three if all games get played.  A few breaks have to start going the Cubs way soon….right….Go Cubs!

Thanks for reading,
– George

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