Archive for the ‘ Series Previews ’ Category

September 3 – 6, 2012; @ Nationals – Series Preview

Long time no see as the Cubs travel to Washington to take on the Nationals.  When the two teams last met it was the opening series of the 2012 season, the Cubs were unsure of what the beginning of the build would look like, and the Nationals were a young upstart bunch.  Fast forward five months and the Cubs are now feeling what’s it’s like to begin the process of building a perennial contender and the Nationals sit atop Major League baseball as the best team in the land.  The Nationals are hurtling towards the finish, but the focus is on what or should I say who will not be with them as they descend on the postseason.  I’m talking about Stephen Strasburg, the Nationals ace, who will make his last start on September 12, and miss the postseason because the organization wants to be cautious with him.  To each their own, not sure I agree with it, but I understand it, I guess.  The Cubs will miss Strasburg but will have to deal with the rest of a pitching staff that has buzzed its way through the National League.  They will also have to deal with a Washington offensive attack that now features a rookie that won’t turn twenty years old until the playoffs are in progress.  Bryce Harper has given the Nats a jolt and made them one of the most exciting teams in baseball, it’s up to the Cubs to temper that enthusiasm and slow down this well oiled machine.

Here are the four game series pitching matchups.

Monday September 3, 2012
Cubs: Jeff Samardzija (8-12, 4.03 ERA)
Washington: Ross Detwiler (8-6, 3.32 ERA)

Tuesday September 4, 2012
Cubs: Chris Rusin (0-1, 1.80 ERA)
Washington: Edwin Jackson (8-9, 3.53 ERA)

Wednesday September 5, 2012
Cubs: Chris Volstad (2-9, 6.06 ERA)
Washington: Gio Gonzalez (17-7, 3.10 ERA)

Thursday September 6, 2012
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-5, 5.52 ERA)
Washinton: Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 3.01 ERA)

Season Series:  Nationals lead 2-1

Prediction:  Nationals Win Series 3-1

Thanks for reading,
– George

August 31 – September 2, 2012; vs. Giants – Series Preview

Time to play spoiler as the West Division leading Giants roll into town for a weekend series.  Ever since the Giants got the news that Melky Cabrera was going to be suspended they have taken off, and now hold a four game lead over the Dodgers in a race for the Western Division crown.  The Giants are getting it done with a balanced attack as they are right in the middle of the pack in runs scored and ERA in the National League.  The Cubs are going to need to have a solid offensive approach against the Giants if they want to take this series.  The Giants are a baseball team in every sense of the word, they play, and win as a team.  If the Cubs can do the same thing, and have an approach like they did in the series finale against the Brewers they might be able to play spoiler.  The team could look rather different come Saturday as the rosters will expand, Sveum has cautioned that there might only be six or so call ups, we’ll see, and of course keep you updated.

August 31, 2012 – September 2, 2012; Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

Here are this weekends pitching matchups.

Friday August 31, 2012
San Francisco: Madison Bumgarner (14-8, 2.93 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Volstad (1-9, 6.28 ERA)

Saturday September 1, 2012
San Francisco: Tim Lincecum (7-14, 5.30 ERA)
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-4, 5.91 ERA)

Sunday September 2, 2012
San Francisco: Matt Cain (13-5, 2.82 ERA)
Cubs: Travis Wood (4-11, 4.71 ERA)

Season Series:  Giants lead series 4-0

Prediction:  Giants sweep series 3-0

Thanks for reading,
– George

August 27 – 30, 2012; vs. Brewers – Series Preview

Milwaukee Brewers Mascot Wallpaper 

The Cubs look to continue their success on the longest home stand of the year as they welcome the Brewers to town for a four game set.  Revenge might also be on the Cubs mind as they were swept by the Brewers last week in Milwaukee.  At this point both teams are playing out the string, but it’s an important time for many young guys as they are trying to impress the front office heading into next year.  One guy that is doing that lately is Brett Jackson, after struggling immediately after his call up Jackson has made the necessary adjustments to find results.  It seems to be working as Jackson was 4-for-8 against the Rockies with two home runs and three RBI’s.  He will look to continue that success against a Brewers team that is finally finding some traction, just a little too late to salvage this season.  The Brewers are 7-3 in their last ten games and are playing much better baseball of late.  They are led by reigning MVP Ryan Braun who is putting up similar numbers this year, if the Cubs want to get that revenge against the Brewers they are going to have to shut Braun down.  Surprisingly the Cubs have limited Braun this year, sure he is hitting .304 against the Cubs this year but he only has one home run, and four RBI’s. 

August 27, 2012 – August 30, 2012; Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

 

 

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Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.

Monday August 27, 2012
Milwaukee: Marco Estrada (1-5, 4.23 ERA)
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-3, 5.40 ERA)

Tuesday August 28, 2012
Milwaukee: Yovanni Gallardo (13-8, 3.62 ERA)
Cubs: Travis Wood (4-10, 4.76 ERA)

Wednesday August 29, 2012
Milwaukee: Mike Fiers (7-6, 2.98 ERA)
Cubs: Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.09 ERA)

Thursday August 30, 2012
Milwaukee: Shaun Marcum (5-4, 3.19 ERA)
Cubs: Brooks Raley (1-2, 6.64 ERA)

Season Series:  Brewers lead 10-3;  What!?  That’s unacceptable

Prediction:  Cubs Split Series 2-2

Thanks for reading,
– George

 

 

August 24 – 26, 2012; vs. Rockies – Series Preview

Oh right, the Colorado Rockies are still in the National League, maybe the reason I forgot about them was that the Cubs haven’t played them all season!  That’s right, the first matchup between these two teams will take place at Wrigley tomorrow, August 24th, just another example of the crazy Major League schedule.  The Cubs will welcome a familiar face to town for the first time, as Tyler Colvin makes his return to Wrigley Field.  Colvin is enjoying a bounce back year out in Colorado as he is hitting .294 with 14 home runs, and 52 RBI’s.  The Cubs are coming off of another horrendous road trip as they went 1-6 against the Reds and Brewers to bring their road record to a dismal 17-48.  The good news is they are much better at home, and the Cubs will be at the Friendly Confines for the next ten games where they look to improve upon a 30-28 record.  The Rockies are concluding a disappointing season as they sit in last place in the National League West and are 23 games under .500.  However, the Rockies are playing well, winning their last five games as they head into town.  As you can imagine, the Rockies can score runs, they sit second in the National League in runs scored, BUT they are dead last in the National League in runs scored on the road.

****

Friday August 24, 2012
Colorado:  Drew Pomeranz (1-7, 4.87 ERA)
Cubs:  Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.17 ERA)

Saturday August 25, 2012
Colorado:  Alex White (2-6, 5.55 ERA)
Cubs:  Brooks Raley (1-2, 7.63 ERA)

Sunday August 26, 2012
Colorado: Jhoulys Chacin (1-3, 6.16 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Volstad (0-9, 6.88 ERA)

Season Series:  First Meeting

Prediction:  Rockies win series, 2-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

August 20 – 22, 2012; @ Brewers – Series Preview

Milwaukee Brewers Logo - 'MB' shaped into a baseball glove in blue and gold

It’s a battle for fourth place!  Sorry, I was just trying to liven things up a little bit.  The Brewers have had the Cubs number this year as they have won seven out of the first ten games between the two clubs.  The Cubs pitching staff has taken it on the chin during the season series as the Brewers are averaging 4.6 runs per game over the first ten games.  Funny thing is the Cubs are actually averaging 4.8 runs per game this year against the Brewers, the numbers get a little out of whack when you win 8-0 and 10-0, which is what the Cubs have done against the Brewers, all or nothing I guess.  Coming into this series both teams are struggling, only going 3-7 in their last ten games.  Not sure that matters much when you take into account the home and road record of the two teams.  The Brewers have been really good at home going 35-28, conversely the Cubs have been dreadful on the road to the tune of 17-45, yikes.  The Cubs are going to have to score with the Brewers if they want any chance to take this series as the Brewers are 5th in the National League in runs scored. 

August 20, 2012 – August 22, 2012; Miller Park, Milwaukee, WI

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Here are the pitching matchups for the three game series.

Monday August 20, 2012
Cubs: Justin Germano (2-2, 3.91 ERA)
Milwaukee: Mark Rogers (0-1, 4.94 ERA)

Tuesday August 21, 2012
Cubs: Chris Rusin (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Milwaukee: Marco Estrada (0-5, 4.52 ERA)

Wednesday August 22, 2012
Cubs: Travis Wood (4-9, 4.83 ERA)
Milwaukee: Yovanni Gallardo (12-8, 3.67 ERA)

Season Series:  Brewers lead 7-3

Prediction:  Cubs win series, 2-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

August 17 – 19, 2012; @ Reds – Series Preview

Tons of baseball to be played this weekend in Cincinnati as the Cubs and Reds square off in a four game series.  Yes, that’s right, four games in three days as the teams will play a double-header on Saturday which is making up a rain out from May.  After not seeing the Reds for three months the Cubs will round out this weekend seeing them in eight of the last eleven games.  The Reds just took three out of four from the Cubs at Wrigley so it’s time for the Cubs to return the favor.  If they plan on doing so they are going to have to put up more performances like they did against the Astros in the series finale.  The Cubs offense has been awful as of late as they struggle to find consistency with a very young lineup.  Surprisingly the Reds are having the same troubles, I guess it’s to be expected as they are still without Joey Votto but the Reds have only scored the 9th most runs in the National League.  Equally surprising is how good the Reds pitching staff has been, they have the second best ERA in the national league, it will be a formidable challenge for this Cubs offense.

****

Friday August 17, 2012
Cubs:  Travis Wood (4-8, 4.52 ERA)
Cincinnati:  Bronson Arroyo (8-7, 3.95 ERA)

Saturday August 18, 2012 – Game 1
Cubs:  Jeff Samardzija (8-10, 4.06 ERA)
Cincinnati:  Johnny Cueto (15-6, 2.45 ERA)

 —

Saturday August 18, 2012 – Game 2
Cubs: TBD (Most likely Raley)
Cincinnati: TBD

 —

Sunday August 19, 2012
Cubs: Chris Volstad (0-8, 6.96 ERA)
Cincinnati: Mat Latos (10-3, 3.63ERA)

Season Series:  Reds lead 6-3

Prediction:  Reds win series, 3-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

August 13 – 15, 2012; vs. Astros – Series Preview

 Houston Astros Logo - Astrodome above Astros blue script on orange

If you are a fan of well-played baseball you might want to avoid turning on the Cubs the next three days as they welcome to lowly Astros to town.  The two teams are a combined 65 games under .500, the Astros being 40 under and the Cubs being 25 under.  If you are interested in watching a race for who gets the number one pick in next years draft then this one is for you.  The Cubs bats have gone silent, they were already pretty quiet to begin with by they are in full on mute mode right now.  They were shut out on Sunday by the Reds, it was their 11th time being shut out this season.  It was also the Cubs 11th loss in their last 12 games, and I would venture to say that this stretch of baseball is even worse than the 12 game losing streak earlier in the season.  The Astros might be exactly what the Cubs need to get back on track, although they are coming off a series win over the Brewers.  The good news is that the Cubs pitching staff won’t have to worry about Carlos Lee this time around as the Astros are much like the Cubs, full of guys trying to make a name for themselves heading into next year.

August 13, 2012 – August 15, 2012:  Wrigley Field, Chicago, IL

 

 

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Here are the pitching matchups for the three game series.

Monday August 13, 2012
Houston: Armando Galarraga (0-2, 4.70 ERA)
Cubs: Jeff Samardzija (7-10, 4.21ERA)

No one has really heard much from Armando Galarraga since his perfect game that wasn’t while he was with the Tigers.  That’s because he has been living in the minor leagues since then aside from a handful of starts with the D-Backs last year.  He is now getting a shot to see what he can do at the major league level with the Astros.  Galarraga has some experience against the Cubs, making three career starts going 2-1 with a 4.95 ERA and a 1.050 WHIP.  Jeff Samardzija is coming off a stellar seven inning start against the Padres and has seen a lot of the Astros, out of the bullpen.  He has only made one career start against the Astros, it came this year as Shark allowed two runs over six innings in a loss in Houston in May.   

Tuesday August 14, 2012
Houston: Lucas Harrell (9-8, 3.97 ERA)
Cubs: Chris Volstad (0-8, 6.94 ERA)

One of the very few bright spots for the Astros this year has been the performance of Lucas Harrell.  Harrell is above .500 this year, that is saying something considering the team his pitches for is 40 games under.  Harrell has very limited experience against the Cubs in his career, he only has two appearances out of the pen and has not given up a run.  Chris Volstad is coming off his best performance of the year, unfortunately it did not result in a win as Volstad is still searching for one of those, has been since July of last year.  In his career, Volstad has been decent against the Astros, he has a 3-0 record with a 4.40 ERA in five career starts.  He will win this game.

Wednesday August 15, 2012
Houston: Bud Norris (5-9, 4.93 ERA)
Cubs: Justin Germano (1-2, 4.26 ERA)

For as surprising as Harrell has been, Bud Norris has been equally as disappointing this season.  His ERA is hovering around five and he is four games under .500, however Norris has been much better as of late.  He has also been outstanding against the Cubs in his career.  Norris has had seven career appearances against the Cubs (6 starts), and is 3-3 with a 2.52 ERA.  Justin Germano came back to Earth in his last start and the last team he probably wants to see is the Astros.  In two career starts Germano is 0-2 with a 12.54 ERA, that’s really all that has to be said about that. 

Season Series:  Series tied 3-3

Prediction:  Cubs win series, 2-1

Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George

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

****

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.  

*** 

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

 

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