Archive for the ‘ Series Previews ’ Category

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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June 28 – 30; vs. Astros – Series Preview

Houston Astros Logo - Shooting gold star with Houston Astros script

The Cubs are slowly becoming fun to watch thanks to the promotion of Anthony Rizzo.  Finally something to watch and look forward to in an otherwise lost season for the Cubs.  The Astros have the fewest road wins in all of major league baseball(9) so that bodes well for the Cubs this weekend.  Nothing really jumps off the page that impresses you about the Astros, but they have been able to score some runs as they sit 9th in the NL.  Where they struggle is on the mound as their team ERA is good for 14th in the NL, just ahead of the Cubs.  The Cubs are going to have to take advantage of the poor Astros staff because you know the Astros hitters are going to score some runs as its projected to be in the mid 90’s all weekend, which usually means the ball with be flying all over the park.  The Cubs should have some extra incentive to stick it to the Astros as they swept the Cubs earlier this season in Houston.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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June 25 – 27; vs. Mets – Series Preview

New York Mets Logo - Modernized Mr. Met logo

It seems like the most interesting news surrounding the Cubs is what is happening off the field than on, that’s probably true.  This is what most Cubs fans have waited for all year, the arrival of Anthony Rizzo.  Rizzo will not be a savior, and he might struggle, but if most Cubs fans are like me, just seeing Rizzo play is a welcome departure from watching a lifeless team go through the motions game after game.  Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Anthony Rizzo could be in the Cubs lineup as early as Tuesday night.  The team he and the Cubs will be facing is one of the early season surprises, the New York Mets.  The Mets are currently five games over .500 and are in second place in the East, just 3.5 games behind the Nationals.  The Cubs will get a look at a big reason Monday night as they face a rejuvenated Johan Santana, but they will avoid knuckleball sensation R.A. Dickey.  The Cubs, per usual, are struggling, they can’t score runs, a big reason is a dreadful stretch with guys in scoring position (3-25 over the weekend in Arizona).  Maybe a Rizzo promotion will help in that department, stay tuned.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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June 18 – 20; @ White Sox – Series Preview

 Chicago White Sox Logo - Blue baseball player icon above Sox in blue and script in red

It’s still odd to me that the Cubs and White Sox face off on a Monday, usually it’s a series reserved for a weekend in June, but not this year.  The Cubs are looking avenge a sweep by the White Sox earlier this year at Wrigley which marked the beginning of the end of the 2012 season for the Cubs.  The Cubs have been playing decent baseball of that but it’s not resulting in wins, and ultimately that’s what matters the most.  Just ask the White Sox, who are getting their fair share of wins lately as they sit atop the AL Central.  No one expected the White Sox to be where they are right now, but thanks to the Tigers struggling out of the gate that’s where they sit.  The Sox sit near the middle of the pack in runs scored and ERA in the American League, they are 6th in runs scored, and 8th in ERA.  The Cubs have not had any success at US Cellular Field, losing nine of their last twelve games there.  Full preview and breakdown after the jump.

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June 15 – 17; vs. Red Sox – Series Preview

Boston Red Sox Logo - A pair of red socks hanging

Both teams come into this series not living up to 2012 expectations, the Red Sox more than the Cubs.  In an odd year in the East, meaning the Yankees and Red Sox are not one, two in the standings in June, the Red Sox sit fourth in the all of a sudden competitive division.  The Sox have struggled in Bobby Valentine’s first season at the helm, and it starts and ends on the mound, of course the laundry list of injuries doesn’t help either.  The Red Sox are scoring runs with the best of them as they sit 2nd in the AL in runs scored, but they can’t stop teams from scoring as their ERA is “good” for 12th in the AL.  The Cubs are coming off a series loss to the Tigers, but they played pretty well in doing so.  The Cubs are going to have to continue to be patient at the plate and knock around the Red Sox pitching, because the Sox are going to hit, the Cubs have to keep up.  It’s going to be scorching all weekend, 90 degrees everyday, the ball will be jumping at Wrigley.  Full preview/breakdown after the jump.

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June 12 – 14; vs. Tigers – Series Preview

Detroit Tigers Logo - Orange tiger walking through calligraphic D in navy

Coming into the season the Detroit Tigers were one of the favorites to not only come out of the Central but maybe represent the AL in the World Series, that was on paper of course.  Things haven’t gone as planned so far for the Tigers as they currently sit in 3rd place in the Central five full games behind the White Sox.  Given the expectations, this year has been a disaster for the Tigers, and a big reason has been the pitching staff as they sit near the bottom of the American League in ERA.  Enough about the Tigers problems as the Cubs have plenty of their own.  The Cubs are coming off a road trip that was ugly, and they currently sit 20 games under .500 as their “record-breaking” season continues.  There should at least be a buzz at Wrigley, not only because the Tigers are in town for the first time since 2006, but the this will be the first game after the Cubs signed Jorge Soler.  Obviously Soler is nowhere near ready for the Major League level, but it is something Cubs fans should be excited about.  Full preview and breakdown after the jump.

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June 8 – 10; @ Twins – Series Preview

Minnesota Twins Logo - Blue T interlocked with red C

Two bad teams go head to head in Minnesota this weekend, and it could be a battle for who receives the first pick overall in next years player draft.  Obviously not something you want to “play for” but it is what it is right now, both teams are threatening for that spot.  The Twins however have been playing solid baseball of late as they have won seven out of their last ten.  Odds are these games will be close, and that usually spells disaster for the Cubs as they have lost 11 straight one run games.  The Cubs only have seven wins all season on the road, this might be their best chance to win a series on the road for the first time all year.  At least we will get to see Target Field, seems like a nice place.  Go Cubs!  Full preview and breakdown after the jump.

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