The Cubs are heading into this series on a high note coming off a three game sweep in Pittsburgh, a sweep that put a major dent in the Pirates playoff hopes. It will be quite the different atmosphere in Houston as this three game set will be a battle for the first pick in the draft. Huge crowds usually don’t turn out for these types of series, couple that with the NFL season getting underway and it could be a very empty ballpark. The Cubs shouldn’t worry about that, they should worry about going out there and getting better with each game, and trying to win a job for next year. Two guys that have jobs locked up for next year, Starlin Castro, and Anthony Rizzo, are leading the Cubs charge as both are red-hot at the plate. Castro is hitting .333 in September, and Rizzo is hitting a whopping .382 during the month, unfortunately that hasn’t translated to many win as the Cubs are a less than stellar 3-6. If the Cubs want to extend their winning streak this week they are going to need the starting staff to step up as it will now be without Samardzija for the rest of 2012.
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Here are the pitching matchups for the four game series.
Season Series: Chicago leads 5-4
Prediction: Cubs win series 2-1
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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!
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.
Usually whenever the Astros show up on the schedule (surprised they haven’t yet) you could expect to take two out of three, maybe even sweep, that’s probably not the case right now. For one, the Cubs are struggling, starting pitching, bullpen, offensively, you name it the Cubs are bad at it right now. Conversely the Astros are playing well at home as evident by their 13-10 record so far this season. If the Cubs are going to get things turned around here they are going to have to do it on the road as they are going to spend a lot of time away from the Friendly Confines. That has not been a good thing for the Cubs as they are 6-11 on the road so far this year. So it’s imperative that they get off to a good start on this trip and this upcoming stretch of games tonight. In order to do so the Cubs bats are going to have to get going, and looking at the Astros pitching that might be harder than expected. Regardless of how well the starters and bullpen pitch, or how poorly they pitch, if the Cubs can’t score they aren’t going to come out with a favorable result. Full preview/breakdown after the jump.