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.
Saturday August 18, 2012 – Game 2
Cubs: TBD (Most likely Raley)
Season Series: Reds lead 6-3
Prediction: Reds win series, 3-1
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
I don’t think I should predict anymore victories, especially when Chris Volstad is pitching. So much for trying to be positive, Chris Volstad is just lost out there, and I was foolish to think he had a chance tonight. Furthermore, if I knew Lendy Castillo would make an appearance I would have definitely kept my mouth shut. Volstad was roughed up again tonight, as he recorded his ninth loss of the season, he’s only made twelve starts. Sure, four runs doesn’t seem like a lot, but Volstad was hit hard in every inning. Speaking of innings, Volstad only lasted five, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out three. Lendy Castillo, or as I like to call him, kerosene, made things much worse in his 0.2 innings of work, he gave up five runs, three earned on five hits while striking out two. This was another one of those “going through the motions” games as the Cubs seemed to want to do anything but play baseball tonight. They only managed six hits, and one run on their way to a 10-1 defeat thanks in large part to Lucas Harrell, who, to be fair, was outstanding tonight. Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and Brett Jackson each had one hit in the loss, so that’s exciting, I guess. The Cubs will look to win the series tomorrow as they send Justin Germano to the bump.
Thanks for reading,
The Cubs go for two wins in a row tonight, try to hold back the excitement, I bet you can’t. Chris Volstad will take the ball, and as I already predicted in the series preview he will end his calendar year-long losing streak tonight in spectacular fashion. I know it’s not really going out on a limb to predict a win against the Astros, but I don’t care. Here is how the Cubs will line up tonight, hint: I like it.
1. DeJesus – RF
2. Vitters – 3B
3. Rizzo – 1B
4. Soriano – LF
5. Castro – SS
6. Castillo – C
7. Jackson – CF
8. Barney – 2B
Fun Fact: Only four Cubs have faced Lucas Harrell, two of them are in Iowa (Sappelt, Campana) and one should be (Valbuena). In total the Cubs have 4 plate appearances against Harrell, ever. They are 2-for-3 with a walk, Soriano is 1-for-1
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
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!
For whatever reason the Cubs are a much different team at home than on the road. It’s obvious given the record at home and on the road, but I’m not talking about that, I’m talking about their overall game. Tonight for example, they got behind early, and there was no panic, no giving up at bats, no mindless baseball. It really is like night at day, I hope that they can build on this at home and the road success comes with experience. Chris got the start tonight, okay I know what you are thinking, impossible, how could Volstad pitch AND the Cubs win the game. It happened folks, and Volstad played a big role, but did not earn a decision so he remains win less this year, and has not registered a win in over a calendar year. Volstad went six strong innings giving up three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out four. The Cubs trailed 3-1 into the sixth inning before tying it up on a Starlin Castro ringing double that just missed leaving the yard for what would have been a three run homer to take the lead. The game stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth when Alfonso Soriano connected on his 20th home run of the season to put the Cubs up for good 5-3. Soriano now has 20 home runs in eleven straight years, quite the accomplishment. Anthony Rizzo had a great night at the plate as he was seeing the ball well all game, he finished 2-for-2 with a double, two walks, and RBI, and two runs scored. Shawn Camp pitched a scoreless inning in relief for his 3rd win of the season and Carlos Marmol closed the door for his 14th save of the year. So long losing streak, full box score and highlights after the jump.
The Cubs will look to end their losing streak as they send Chris Volstad to the mound against the first place Reds tonight. It has been a rainy day in the Chicagoland area so hopefully that will stay away so the game can be played. Josh Vitters is out of the lineup once again as Luis Valbuena gets the start. After a mental day off Brett Jackson gets back in there, but hitting down a little bit in the order. The Cubs should be excited to get back home and hopefully end this losing streak. The game is set to start at 7:05 on CSN.
DeJesus – RF
Barney – 2B
Rizzo – 1B
Soriano – LF
Castro – SS
Valbuena – 3B
Jackson – CF
Clevenger – C
Volstad – P
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!