Archive for the ‘ Series Previews ’ Category

August 9 – 12, 2012; vs. Reds – Series Preview

Talk about a weird schedule, the Cubs and Reds will play each other a total of 17 times during the 2012 season.  They have played each other only five times this year (one rain out) so far, and haven’t seen each other since May 3rd, a full three months ago.  Since then the Reds have taken off and the Cubs have sunk to the bottom of the Central division, which was somewhat expected.  The Reds have been rolling as they sit atop the Central division with a 2.5 game lead over the Pirates.  July was rather spectacular for the Reds as they had 19 wins, a Major League best (tied with Oakland).  They have leveled off here in August going 4-4 so far as they have lost their last four games, but they are doing this without their best player Joey Votto, quite the void to fill.  To be fair the Reds have beat up on lesser opponents while Votto has been out, and it continues in Chicago this weekend.  I hate saying that but it’s true, the Cubs are 0-for August, no wins in seven games and have lost eight straight.  The Cubs offensive woes might get even worse as they face a Reds team that is third in the National League in ERA at 3.38. 

SERIES VITALS

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Thursday August 9, 2012
Cincinnati: Mike Leake (4-7, 4.51 ERA)
Chicago: Chris Volstad (0-8, 7.22ERA)

Mike Leake has been beat up a little bit over his last three starts, but has turned in a decent season for the Reds up to this point.  Leake has started against the Cubs 8 times in his career and he has been good.  In those 8 starts Leake is 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.189 WHIP.  Volstad on the other hand has been very bad, for a while.  His numbers against the Reds in his career don’t exactly give me a lot of confidence that Volstad will record his first win in over a year.  In four career starts against the Reds, Volstad is 1-3 with a 5.32 ERA, and a 1.479 WHIP, at least he has a win.

Friday August 10, 2012
Cincinnati: Homer Bailey (9-7, 3.98 ERA)
Chicago:  Justin Germano (1-1, 3.38ERA)

Justin Germano has been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs this season after being acquired mid-season from the Red Sox.  Germano has been versatile for the Cubs, pitching out of the pen and the rotation.  He is not going to light up the radar gun but he knows how to pitch, and pitchers have a chance against the Reds as opposed to throwers.  Likewise, Homer Bailey has also been a nice surprise this season for the Reds as he is starting to fulfill some of that potential that everyone was so excited about.  In his career, Bailey has been roughed up by the Cubs.  In 8 career starts, Bailey is 3-2 with a 5.60 ERA, and 1.667 WHIP.

Saturday August 11, 2012
Cincinnati: Bronson Arroyo (7-7, 4.05 ERA)
Chicago: Travis Wood (4-8, 4.77 ERA)

Travis Wood should have some extra incentive going into this one as the Reds are the only other team he has pitched for in his career.  After struggling a bit in July, Wood has been pretty good the last two times out, however he has no wins to show for it.  Bronson Arroyo profiles as a guy the Cubs struggle with, changes speeds, more slow than hard and the Cubs refuse to be patient.  The numbers back this up, in 26 games (24 starts) against the Cubs in his career he is 9-9 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.138 WHIP.  If the Cubs want success against Arroyo they need to take pitches and force him to elevate.

Sunday August 12, 2012
Cincinnati: Johnny Cueto (14-6, 2.58 ERA)
Chicago: Brooks Raley (0-1, 15.75ERA)

Talk about being thrown into the fire, Brook Raley will make his second career start against a first place team and a 14 game winner.  Raley was the victim of some bad luck in his major league debut where balls were just finding holes.  He was unable to work out of jams after those dink and dunk hits and that’s what hurt him.  I’m sure nerves will be an issue once again for Raley as he will be making his Wrigley Field debut.  Johnny Cueto is having an outstanding season for the Reds, he has been just okay against the Cubs however.  In 15 career starts, Cueto is 5-6 with a 3.55 ERA with a 1.320 WHIP.

Season Series:  Reds lead 3-2

Prediction:  Reds win series, 3-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

August 6 – 8, 2012; @ Padres – Series Preview

No rest for the weary as the Cubs stumble into San Diego for a three game series starting tonight on the heels of being swept by the Dodgers.  The Cubs have lost five straight games as they are now fully immersed in the rebuilding process.  Despite the losses the Cubs are becoming a lot more fun to watch as the lineup moving forward will feature Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Welington Castillo, and Starlin Castro, all of these guys figure to be around when the Cubs are ready to contend on a yearly basis.  That’s a little ways down the road right now, the task at hand will be trying to solve the Padres who red-hot at Petco Park, winning seven of their last nine games in their spacious home field.  The Padres are winning most games with pitching, as expected in that pitchers paradise, but they do have some hot bats as well.  Yonder Alonso is hitting near .400 in his last seven games, if the Cubs want to be in this series they are going to have to contain Alonso and find a way to generate runs.  The latter might be a little easier as the Cubs reworked lineup yielded some solid results on Sunday in LA, hopefully they can build on that and not only win a series but put an end to their five game losing streak before it gets really out of hand, again.  

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August 6, 2012 – August 8, 2012;  Petco Park, San Diego, CA

 

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Here are the pitching matchups for the three game series, at the time of this preview the Cubs have yet to name a Tuesday Night starter as Matt Garza will not make the start as he has been placed on the DL.

Monday August 6, 2012
Chicago: Travis Wood (4-7, 4.90 ERA)
San Diego: Eric Stults (1-2, 3.19 ERA)

I really like this matchup for Travis Wood, a big ballpark should suit him well.  The key for Travis Wood will be to throw strikes, no brainer right?  The reason I mention it is that he can use the ballpark to his advantage by letting the Padres elevate without the concern of the ball leaving the yard.  If Wood can stay ahead of hitters he should be able to make his pitches to get outs.  Eric Stults profiles as a guy the Cubs struggle with, however the Cubs have destroyed Stults in his career.  Stults is 0-3 vs the Cubs in three career starts with a 7.24 ERA, that bodes well.

Tuesday August 7, 2012
Chicago: Some Guy (?-?, ?.?? ERA)
San Diego: Ross Ohlendorf (3-2, 6.27 ERA)

I really don’t like the chances of Some Guy vs the Padres on Tuesday night.  All kidding aside usually when a team is forced to use a starter that might not be ready for the Majors it doesn’t work out well.  That could be the case on Tuesday as the Cubs still have not announced a starter, mainly because the candidates for that start all pitched this past weekend in Iowa.  The bright side here is that the Cubs face Ohlendorf who has been awful this year, so I’m saying there’s a chance. 

Wednesday August 8, 2012
Chicago: Jeff Samardzija (7-9, 4.37 ERA)
San Diego: Clayton Richard (8-11, 4.01 ERA)

Game three sets up to be the best of the bunch as Samardzija battles Richard.  Samardzija faced San Diego earlier this year and went seven strong innings in picking up a win at Wrigley Field.  I expect much of the same from Shark on Wednesday as he looks to bounce back from one of his worst outings of the season last time out.  The Cubs haven’t seen much of Richard as they have only faced him one time in the last three years, and Richard got the best of the Cubs that day.  I expect this one to be the lowest scoring game of the series.  

Season Series:  Cubs lead 3-0

Prediction:  Cubs win series, 2-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

August 3 – August 5, 2012; @ Dodgers – Series Preview

On paper this matchup looks, well, horrible for the Cubs.  Luckily for the Cubs they don’t play these games on paper, that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.  Given the matchups this weekend the Cubs are at a severe disadvantage when it comes to pitching.  This could be said for the whole season, but it hasn’t ever been as bad as this, with Dempster gone, and Garza shelved it could be a long series for Samardzija, Germano, and Coleman.  If the Cubs want any shot at winning this series they are going to need to get outstanding performances from said starters as the offense will be hard pressed to put up very many runs.  The Dodgers rank third in the National League with a 3.38 ERA, compared to the Cubs who have a 4.31 ERA good for 14th in the NL.  The only good news for the Cubs right now is that the Dodgers come into this series reeling despite acquiring Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez before the trade deadline.  They were just swept by the Diamondbacks and currently sit .5 game out of first with the D-Backs hot on their tail for second.  It will be interesting to see which Cubs team finishes this series as Josh Vitters and Brett Jackson have both been rumored to be getting the call very soon.

 

SERIES VITALS

 

 

 

BROADCAST INFORMATION

 

PITCHING MATCHUPS

 

 

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

 

July 30 – August 1, 2012; vs. Pirates – Series Preview

The Cubs are getting used to this whole spoiler thing as they are coming off series wins against the second place (Pirates) and third place (Cardinals) teams in the Central.  The Pirates come to town to kick off the week and they are seeking some revenge as the Cubs took two out of three at PNC park last week.  Not many teams can say that as the Pirates boast the best home record in baseball, on the road they are average, hovering right around .500 on the season.  It will be very interesting to see how this series plays out as it starts before the trade deadline and ends after it.  Both teams might look very different come Wednesday.  Let’s take an in-depth look at this series, hope you enjoy the new format.

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Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

July 27 – 29, 2012; vs. Cardinals – Series Preview

St. Louis Cardinals Logo - A cardinal in a batting stance

The Cubs get an opportunity for revenge right away as they face off against the Cardinals this weekend in Chicago.  The Cubs just saw the Cardinals last weekend in St. Louis and it wasn’t pretty as the Cards swept the Cubs and the Cubs didn’t put up much of a fight.  One run was all that the Cubs scored last weekend against the Cardinals, that’s hard to do.  The Cubs bounced back against the Pirates however as they took two out of three from the Central Division contender in Pittsburgh, which is also hard to do.  The Cardinals were struggling in the second half of the season until they met the Cubs last weekend.  Counting that weekend they are 6-1 in their last seven games as they try to chase down the Reds and Pirates who sit above them in the Central Division.  It will be interesting to see if the same Cubs team that starts this series will be there to finish it as we roll towards the trade deadline.  On paper this matchup couldn’t get anymore lopsided as the Cardinals are number one in the NL in runs scored and the Cubs are last, but the Cubs pitching has been outstanding as of late, they will need to be to win the series.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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July 23 – 25, 2012; @ Pirates – Series Preview

Pittsburgh Pirates Logo - Pirates arched in black with a gold outline

Oh how a weekend changes the feeling around a ball club.  Coming into last weekend the Cubs were the hottest team in baseball, they are now licking their wounds on their way to Pittsburgh.  The Cubs and Pirates open a three game series tonight, and the Pirate have been red-hot as they sit half a game out of first in the Central behind the Reds.  The Pirates are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are an insane 32-14 at PNC Park, the best home record in all of baseball.  The Cubs need to find some offense in this series as they were shut out the last two games in St. Louis against the Cardinals.  The Cubs won’t have it much easier at the plate in this series as the Pirates have the 5th best ERA in the National League.  Offensively the Pirates are 10th in the National League in runs scored, doesn’t seem good, but when the Cubs last faced the Pirates they were dead last, they are raking.  Andrew McCutchen leads the charge for the Pirates as he is hovering around the triple crown right now, if the Cubs want to win this series they will need to find a way to shut down one of the games best.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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July 20 – 22, 2012; @ Cardinals – Series Preview

St. Louis Cardinals Logo - Two cardinals perched on a black bat between script in red

The Cubs try to keep it rolling in St. Louis this weekend amid reports that Ryan Dempster is on the verge of being traded.  Because of the trade being imminent, at least per reports, Ryan Dempster has been pulled from his start tomorrow.  From the sound of it Casey Coleman will take Dempster’s start tomorrow as he was scratched from his Iowa Cubs start tonight.  The report of Dempster being pulled is coming from MLB Network, but has not been confirmed by any of the local media or the Cubs themselves at the time of this preview.  So, aside from all of that, the Cubs continue to be the hottest team in baseball since late June.  They come into this series with the Cardinals on the heels of a 5-1 home stand, and a series win over the Marlins.  Conversely the Cardinals come into this series limping as they are 4-6 in their last 10 games and have fallen into third place in the Central division, five full games out of first.  The Cardinals have led the NL in runs scored for quite some time, but they are struggling as of late, only scoring 51 runs in July (14 games), which is good for 12th in the NL over that time.  By comparison the Cubs have scored 63 runs in July, good for 6th in the NL.  The only reason the Cardinals have kept their head above water this month has been their pitching, they boast a staff ERA of 2.65 in July, the best in the National League.  The Cubs have been really good as well with a 3.19 ERA in July, good for 4th in the National League.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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July 17 – 19, 2012; vs. Marlins – Series Preview

Florida Marlins Logo - Marlin leaping over black F with silver & black outlines

The hottest team in the majors since June 25th?  That’s right, the Cubs.  The record says so, the Cubs are 12-4 since June 25th and are clicking on all cylinders as they welcome the Miami Marlins to town.  Or should I say they welcome the circus to town as Tuesday will mark the return of Ozzie Guillen, Mark Buehrle, and Carlos Zambrano to Chicago.  Guillen had an opportunity to set his rotation for this series and he chose to have Zambrano watch all three games from the bench.  Of course I guess that could be good for all parties involved.  The Cubs only care about one thing, and that’s winning, which is what they have been doing as they come into this series on the heels of a three game sweep over the Diamondbacks.  A big reason for the success has been the Cubs starters who have had an ERA under two over the last five games and have the opportunity to continue that dominance as they face a scuffling Marlins offense (14th in runs scored in the NL).  The improved lineup has been another big reason for the Cubs turnaround, and there’s no reason to expect them to slow down against a Marlins staff that is ranked 11th in the NL in team ERA.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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July 6 – 8; Cubs @ Mets – Series Preview

New York Mets Logo - Mets scripted in blue with an orange outline

The Cubs close out the first half of the 2012 season in New York against the Mets this weekend.  This should be a pretty good series as both clubs are playing pretty good baseball right now.  The Cubs, in probably their best stretch of the season, have gone 7-3 in their last ten games, while the wild card leading (Tied with the Giants) Mets are 6-4 in their last ten.  The Cubs got the best of the Mets at the end of June in Chicago when they took two out of three.  However, I’m sure the Cubs haven’t forgotten the one game they lost in that series, by the score of 17-1.  The Mets are a well-rounded squad as they are 3rd in the NL in runs scored, and 7th in ERA.  Not too many ways to beat this team at the moment, if the Cubs want to be successful they have to get into the Mets bullpen which is the worst in the National League with a 5.07 ERA.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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July 2 – 5; @ Braves – Series Preview

 

Atlanta Braves Logo - Crossed tomahawks on a blue circle with Atlanta Braves 1876 inside.  Worn on the sleeves of home alternate / throwback uniform.

The Cubs are riding quite possibly their best streak of the 2012 season as they roll into Atlanta for a four game series.  Winning five of their last six, the Cubs have been getting solid pitching and clutch hitting, the timely hits have mostly come from Anthony Rizzo.  Rizzo has played five major league games for the Cubs, the Cubs are 4-1 in those games with Rizzo getting the game winning hit in three of them.  The Braves have actually been better on the road then at home where they have an 18-20 record.  In order for the Cubs to keep rolling they are going to have to shut down a rather potent Atlanta offense, the Braves have scored the 4th most runs in the National League.  As long as the Cubs stay patient they should have a pretty good look at the Braves pitching staff, as they have walked the 5th most guys in the National League.  Finally some exciting baseball, let’s hope the Cubs can continue their strong play and at worst earn a split in Atlanta.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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