The Cubs and Nationals wrap up their three-game set to open the year, with the Nationals having taken both of the first two games late off of Kerry Wood and Carlos Marmol. I asked on Twitter yesterday, mid-game, if I was a masochist for hoping that Wood and Marmol would get a chance to get back on the horse. I guess I am. And I no longer want to be, so I don’t hope the same thing today. Perhaps the Cubs can somehow score 20 runs?

I look forward to seeing what Jeff Samardzija has in his first start, for which I’d imagine he’ll be pretty amped up.

The Cubs’ lineup features five lefties, including Bryan LaHair making his first start of the year after dealing with some back issues. We don’t yet know if he’s a legit big league hitter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad enough about the Cubs’ offense to say: the Cubs need his bat. Steve Clevenger also gets his first start, spelling Geovany Soto. (UPDATE: Blake DeWitt is now out of the lineup with back spasms, and Barney is back in.)

Game Info

Washington Nationals (2-0) at Chicago Cubs (0-2), 1:20pm CT on WGN.

Game Thread

The Game Thread lives here. Click me. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

Starting Pitchers

Jordan Zimmermann (0-0, -.–, no other stats available yet)


Jeff Samardzija (0-0, -.–, no other stats available yet)

Washington Nationals Lineup

1. Ian Desmond, SS

2. Danny Espinosa, 2B

3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B

4. Adam LaRoche, 1B

5. Jayson Werth, RF

6. Xavier Nady, LF

7. Roger Bernadina, CF

8. Wilson Ramos, C

9. Jordan Zimmermann, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Blake DeWitt, 2B Darwin Barney

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Ian Stewart, 3B

6. Bryan LaHair, 1B

7. Marlon Byrd, CF

8. Steve Clevenger, C

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • Doc Evans

    I’m excited for this pitching matchup. I’m a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point where Zimmermann dominated during my time there. I also played catch with him at a prospect camp when I was a senior in high school. 94 mph is a lot faster when you are on the receiving end of it.

    Hopefully Shark’s hair doesn’t get in the way and his command is on. This will be a fun game to watch!

    • DocPWimsey

      Zimmerman is one of the better pitchers of whom nobody has ever heard. Part of it is that he missed a year with TJ, and part of it is that he’s pitched well for a bad team, so the “obvious” stats (W-L) are not that impressive. And, of course, part of it is that nobody has ever named a concerto after him, either…. 😎

      I have him in my keeper league. Um: I guess I’m hoping for some negative points today!

  • MichiganGoat

    Dewitt at 2B should be interesting, I actually like that lineup.

    • Cheryl

      But it also points out the cubs needs in a nmber of areas

      • MichiganGoat

        Oh its not great or even good, but at least it makes sense if these players were to be the players we hope than can be. Its a good spot for Byrd and Lahair.

        • Cheryl


  • Brian

    Really liking this lefty lineup. Especially since Clevenger is getting the nod. Hope that Dolis and Castillo get the opportunity to set up and close the game if we are winning. They EARNED that opportunity over Marmol and Wood who were GIVEN the role.

    • MichiganGoat

      I don’t expect Marmol or Wood to pitch today- even if they didn’t “crap their pants” they still threw a lot of pitches would today would be an off day. However if a save opportunity presents itself it could be interesting if Sveum send him out again. Just imagine if he gets the save- how will we respond to the bullpen situation then? But I expect he will be sitting today, Woody for sure.

    • DocPWimsey

      If you buy into “earned,” then Marmols’ and Woods’ career stats have shown that they earned late inning jobs. Dollis and Castillo have never done anything to “earn” that: between them, they have 2 IP in MLB ball.

      • MichiganGoat

        Precisely the EARNED argument does work here, I do agree they should be given a chance (which they are) and then allow their sustained performance to earn them the job.

  • Myles

    Optimist point of the game!

    Starlin Castro might end up being a good #3 hitter.

    #3 hitters come into these situations:

    2 outs, no one on
    1 outs, 1 man on (or less, HR)
    0 outs, 2 men on (or less, HR).

    I’m ignoring the happy chances of HR.

    In his career splits these are his numbers in those situations.

    Most likely, it’s the first one, where Castro hits .301/.337/.460.
    In the second instance, .398/.438/.475.
    In the last instance, .363/.363/.909 (small sample size).

    These are all over his career averages when leading off (.302/.334/.433).


    • DocPWimsey

      Given the small sample size that is Castro’s careers, it is very unlikely that any of those success rates are different from Castro being Castro. That being written, he should be batting #2: as has come up a few times in the last week plus, the “prototype” #3 hitter actually should bat #2, especially on an NL team.

      • Myles

        For sure, optimist’s club is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but fun anyway.

  • gratefulled

    Despite the Cubs’ start, I can take comfort knowing Zambrano is not on our team.

    Let’s go Shark!

    • djriz

      Zmabrano’s first inning this year.

      3 runs
      2 hits
      2 walks
      33 pitches.

      Even if Volstad never throws a pitch, Cubs are better because of this trade.

    • MichiganGoat

      and I get great joy watching him failing today

  • MichiganGoat

    This just in from Doug Padilla ‏ @ESPNChiCubs: Lineup change: Barney in for DeWitt, who has back spasms.

  • Brett

    I’m going to be on the road for much of the game today. Crap. Family gathering running long. Really wanted to see Samardzija. Hopefully he stays in a long time.

  • Michael

    I hope Cub fans who have a crush on Kerry Wood are finally getting over it. If you think about it, he’s only had 3 big games in his career: the 20 K game, and the 2003 NLDS against Atlanta.

    Ever wonder why he said it was the Cubs or he’d retire? He isn’t half as valuable to other teams as he is the Cubs. Their love for Wood perfectly explains why we always suck: we don’t know what a good player looks like.

    Marmol and Wood need to be dealt this year for us to ever improve.

    • DocPWimsey

      If you ignore all of his other big starts, that is. (Talk about selective memory….)

  • ty

    We can win today–Jeff 8 good innings-Rusell closes. Happy Easter Cub fans!

  • Finner

    Does Garza have a BN sweatshirt on today?

  • Zogie

    No patients at the plate today. Just 3 hits and 46 pitches in 5 innings for Zimmerman. Take a strike cubs, you will get another one with Zimmerman on the mound.

  • DocPWimsey

    Have I ever mentioned just how much I *HATE* wasting outs on bunts from the regulars? The Cubs should be going for 2-3 runs here, not 1……

    • drew

      Doc- thats exactly why I just logged on here. Hearing Moreland say, “Marlon has to give himself up here” just made me sick. Why anyone would think thats a good time to put a bunt down is beyond me.

    • KyleNovak

      Yeah. . . I have to admit that I’m a little concerned with Sveum’s early tendency for excessive “small ball” in certain situations. There is NO reason that Byrd should be bunting with no outs AND the pitcher due up as the potential last out of the inning. Hell, Byrd isn’t the guy I’d want bunting anyways.

  • art

    no outs, LaHair on 2B, sorry i don’t give up an out. Byrd bunts, pops up to catcher, get rid of him. IMO.

  • jesse

    Did you say something about jeff going 9 strong :)

  • ty

    Wow! Congrats Jeff and we know Coach Riggins is proud of you!

  • czechxican

    Think we saw something special today

    • ty

      Totally agree. A complete pitcher today–a stud athlete whose time has come.

  • ty


  • Matt3

    what a rotation now

  • ty

    Matt–could be–could be

  • JOF

    Super start Jeff. Three fantastic starts. Maybe we are not as bad as we are suppose to be.

  • Kyl-el

    Samardzija to the rotation has the potential to be such a complete masterstroke for the front office and management. His slider worked like a plus changeup today, and the command on the fastball was mostly there. He left a few up and out over the plate, but not many, and with his velocity he can get away with a few.