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The Chicago Cubs head back home after a brutal road trip, and today welcome the Cincinnati Reds. At least it’s a Friday, right? Win or lose, you can drink tonight.

One of these games, Chris Volstad is going to keep the ball down, and he’s going to destroy a team. I genuinely believe that. Maybe today’s the day.

I said this morning that Bryan LaHair might move up the order soon, and, what do you know, it happened today. He’s batting cleanup, with Alfonso Soriano sliding down the fifth (which nicely splits up the lefties, too). Yes, Geovany Soto and Marlon Byrd are still in the lineup.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (5-8) at Chicago Cubs (3-10), 1:20pm CT on CSN and MLBN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. 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.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Homer Bailey (0-2, 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9)

versus

Chris Volstad (0-1, 4.91 ERA, 1.182 WHIP)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Zack Cozart, SS

2. Drew Stubbs, CF

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Scott Rolen, 3B

6. Chris Heisey, LF

7. Willie Harris, 2B

8. Devin Mesoraco, C

9. Homer Bailey, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Bryan LaHair, 1B

5. Alfonso Soriano, LF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Geovany Soto, C

8. Marlon Byrd, CF

9. Chris Volstad, P

  • MaxM1908

    Volstad is 1-0? I thought he didn’t have a win yet.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      He doesn’t. Transposed a couple numbers there.

      • Edwin

        If only scoreboard operators would start making the same mistake…

      • MaxM1908

        Thanks, I started running through the wins in my head (with only 3, it’s quite easy) and I was thinking “What am I missing?”

  • HoustonTransplant

    I prefer this lineup much more, save for the 7 & 8 hitters. Blah.

    I hope this gets us off to a good series start. I’m tired of all this losing. I know they’re going to be bad this year, but if the Cubs could at least entertain…keep it interesting. This last series was unbearable. I’d rather see every series like the one against Washington…at least we were in every game that series.

  • SirCub

    That’s basically the lineup configuration I support. Need to switch Byrd and Soto though. Geo is way more patient.

  • Stuart

    Why were they reporting Randy Wells being at Wrigley, as possible replacement for Wood, then announced that they recalled Maine. So why is Wells there?

    • Brian

      Maybe because of Samardzija?

      • Patrick

        Wells is up because of a Dempster MRI on his quad.

      • Stuart

        See below. Backup for Demp

  • Stu

    So Soto/Byrd will be played for the entire year? Glad they finally put LaHair in #4.

    • MaxM1908

      They probably figure a player won’t get out of a slump sitting on the bench. I imagine it’s a delicate balancing act when you deal with player’s psyches and their slumps. It’s disappointing though that hot bats cool off on the bench while the manager tries to bring starters out of slumps.

      • hansman1982

        If we want to have any hope of trading Byrd or Soto at the deadline they HAVE to play every day.

        • MaxM1908

          And hit. I can’t imagine showcasing .150 hitters all season is going to increase their trade value. But, I’m also optimistic that their numbers are just reflective of slumps. Both will bounce back before too long. Maybe today’s the day! I have Soto on my fantasy bench today, so it’s only natural that he’ll hit for the cycle and have 6 RBIs.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Soto’s performance so far still falls easily in the “bad luck” range once we remember that this is always going to be a guy who K’s and BB’s a lot.

            Byrd, on the other hand, is getting to the point where his performance is pretty improbable given his past performances.  Yes, his BABiP is very unlucky, but he typically gets extra base hits in 11% of ABs where he makes contact.  The probability of going 0 for 30 in this department isn’t tiny (0.04), but it’s not huge, either.  Still, every team should have one guy underperforming or overperforming by this much…

            (Soto is on the money here: given 27 contact ABs, we expect 3-5 XBH and we’ve gotten 3.)

            • Drew

              I’ve been suprised to see the number of people calling for Soto’s head. I havent been nearly as concerned with him as I am with Byrd.

              • DocPeterWimsey

                I listen to games rather than watch them, but Soto’s had several outs that the announcers described as liners or smashed grounders, whereas I don’t recall any of Byrd’s outs being described as well-hit.  More advanced stats do keep track of “well-hit balls”: I’m betting that Soto is getting as many as usual but that Byrd is not.  (Extra base hits are a good proxy for well-hit balls, but the sample size is still too small to completely trust it.)

        • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

          “I have Soto on my fantasy bench today, so it’s only natural that he’ll hit for the cycle and have 6 RBIs.”

          LOL! I have a knack for ripping players to shreds, only to see them have great games. If I had a nickel for every time…

  • Stuart

    Wells brought to Chicago as backup in case Dempster cant go on Sunday. He’s getting an MRI on right Quad

  • Cubmig

    For all of us that hate our losing way, Rogers writes that it all may be a “blessing in disguise”. He says if the losing keeps up, it positions the Cubs for a top draft pick. Personally, the return that represents is not high enough. I’d rather the Cubs blow the whole season in such a way that it rips away the cool “veneer” Theo&Co parade in front of us. No matter what future plans Theo&Co are executing, it would seem that they would include us tasting the sweet side of those plans –at least– enough to palate the sour part of losing. Lastly, it would definitely mean that if we accept following that approach, we are in for a lot more losing. “Losing to win” That would be the new Cubs’ mantra.

  • hansman1982

    “Homer Bailey (0-2, 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9)”

    So we should expect 8 scoreless with 1 walk and 13 K’s?

    • Brian

      Out of the many things the Cubs do wrong and one I would really like to see them overcome, is where they are dominated by a pitcher that every other team has owned.

    • CastrotoBarneytoLaHair

      Along those same lines, if Dusty has any hitters slumping right now, you know they are fighting to get into the lineup…We’ve always been a cure for what ails…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Bingo.

  • Matt

    Hoping I can at least make it back in time to see Stacy King do the 7th inning stretch. If it goes like everything else with King, it should be interesting.

  • gratefulled

    Brett, I thought I had asked very nicely to be lied to.

    :kicksdirt

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      My bust.

  • ISU Birds

    Volstad gets his first win today I’m calling it. Or the Cubs will play like the Cubs and he will pitch great but lose because of a 2-1 final.

    • ISU Birds

      Yah…..nevermind.

  • JR

    Glad that Sveum is splitting up the lefties — hope that LaHair doesn’t press hitting in the 4 spot. It seems that both Byrd and Cubs are in a lose-lose situation. It makes sense that the Cubs want to give him the opportunity to hit himself out of the slump — to trade him for a bag of balls if for no other reason — and Byrd seems a great guy, works hard, etc. But it seems pretty clear that Byrd can’t hit major league pitching at his new weight and body shape. I’m curious about the history of guys who were muscled up and then show up one year with “lean muscle” — do they perform? Before anyone jumps down my throat, I’m not saying Byrd was on steroids (though it’s hard to believe his former physique was due to excess carbs and he admittedly worked with Conte). We’ll never know one way or the other. But certainly there is a lot of recent history of guys with giant heads and muscles coming back shrunken and I’d be interested if there’s a predictable downturn in production when that happens. And if so if it’s just in the first months when the guy has to get used to playing at high school weight again or if it’s a long term downward trend.

  • Brian

    Cubs teams might be the historically worst teams at picking themselves up and overcoming an error, ever!

  • czechxican

    Losing is a disease…as contagious as syphilis.
    … attacking one… but infecting all.

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