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Well, the Cubs are coming off their worst series in a long time, and, while the Pirates might once have been a nice team against whom to rebound, the tables have turned. The Cubs are the rebound team, and the Pirates are now the ass-kicking team.

By way of reminder, the Series Preview hooks you up with what you need to know about every series this year – streaks, broadcast information, pitchers, expected lineups, etc. That way, if you want to check only one place to get a sense about an upcoming series, or to plan ahead, you’ve got it. Oh, and there will be pictures of beautiful women, too.

We’re Going Streaking

After a super hot stretch, the Cubs were just swept out of St. Louis, and looked poised to resume their bottom feeding ways.

The Pirates have won five in a row, and just swept the Marlins. They trail the Reds in the NL Central by a half game, but they currently hold the first Wild Card position.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Monday, July 23 at 6:05 CT on CSN.
  • Tuesday, July 24 at 6:05 CT on CSN.
  • Wednesday, July 25 at 11:35 CT on WGN.

Expected Starters and Lineups

These lineups are likely to be pretty close to what actually gets fielded, but you’ll want to check each day’s Pre-Gamin’ post for the actual lineup.

Cubs

Starters: Jeff Samardzija (6-8, 4.57), Paul Maholm (8-6, 4.09), Ryan Demspter(?) (5-4, 2.11)

Lineup:

  1. David DeJesus, CF
  2. Starlin Castro, SS
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  5. Bryan LaHair, RF
  6. Geovany Soto, C
  7. Darwin Barney, 2B
  8. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  9. Pitcher

Pirates

Starters: Erik Bedard (5-10, 4.54), James McDonald (10-3, 2.93), Kevin Correia (7-6, 4.31),

Lineups:

  1. Alex Pressley, LF
  2. Neil Walker, 2B
  3. Andrew McCutchen, CF
  4. Garrett Jones, RF
  5. Casey McGehee, 1B
  6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B
  7. Rod Barajas, C
  8. Clint Barmes, SS
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Ryan Dempster is scheduled to start on Wednesday. I didn’t think he’d start last Friday, and I’m not changing that up now. I really, really don’t think he makes that start.

Bryan LaHair was about the only Cubs offensive player who had a nice series in St. Louis, going 4 for 9 with two walks.

For whatever reason, it seems like Luis Valbuena has hit better than he has. Maybe it’s because Ian Stewart struggled so mightily over at third, or maybe it’s because Valbuena got off to relatively nice start. But, the fact is, in his last 15 games, he’s hitting an awful .184/.212/.224. It doesn’t help that he always starts against lefties, and the Cubs have seen their fair share of them, but still, those are bad numbers.

Jeff Samardzija’s July ERA is now just 2.37.

Andrew McCutchen is having an insane season. His line is an almost unimaginable .372/.427/.642 when you consider that he’s all of 5’10” and 185 pounds. As a fellow smaller guy, I like it. Can you call a guy who’s slugging .642 “scrappy”?

Also ridiculous this year? James McDonald. The Pirates righty has a 2.93 ERA and a 1.111 WHIP – not to mention a career best 2.60 K/BB ratio – and he’s just 27, despite an already kind-of-long big league career. The Pirates may have stumbled into a gem.

The Pirates have been waiting for young third baseman Pedro Alvarez to break out for a long time. That might be happening now. In his last 30 games, he’s hitting .308/.385/.731. Kind of sounds like Aramis Ramirez’s story – maybe the Pirates can trade him to the Cubs…

Series She-View

The Series She-View is one beautiful woman representing the Cubs taking on another (usually) beautiful woman representing the opponent. The Cubs’ representative will change as the team’s needs change – in other words, if the Cubs are winning, the rep will stay the same. But if the Cubs’ performance calls for a change, someone new will step in. The opponent’s representative will change from series to series, at my whim. But at least she’ll probably be wearing the opponent’s colors or have some connection to the team or something like that. It is immature, and the connection to baseball is tenuous at best. These things, I know.

Had it just been a series loss, I probably would have given Stacy Keibler another shot as the Cubs’ rep. After all, she oversaw the most successful stretch of Cubs’ baseball all year. But it wasn’t a mere series loss. It was a sweep. Against the Cardinals. During which the Cubs were outscored 23 to 1. Clearly, she’s lost her magic. Which made me want to drink. So I went to a bar. And now the Cubs’ rep is Bar Refaeli. See what I did there?

As for the Pirates, we’ll go back to the pirate theme – Keira Knightley. So what if she hasn’t been a pirate in years. Those movies were fun, damnit.

versus

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Please forgive this test comment.

    • JulioZuleta

      Absolutely not. That just completely ruined my BN experience for the day.

  • MightyBear

    This probably should have been a question in the minor league write up but Brett probably knows as well as Luke. Is Vitters defense getting better? Could he be called up to play third? Do you think they’re waiting for a trade to open up a spot on the roster? Any help would be greatly apreciated.

    • gratefulled

      Unfortunately, no. There is quite a gap between Valbuena’s and Vitter’s defensive skills. I’m sure Vitters will get the call-up at the end of the year, but it will only be to give him a taste of the Bigs.

    • djriz

      I’m going to agree with you ‘Bear’. What do we have to lose? It’s not that 3rd base gets that many chances that defence makes that big a deal (we lived with Ramirez for a long time). Since no seems to think he’ll be a Cub longterm, we really don’t have to worry about service time, right. Bringing him up at this point would just give fans another level of interest. That could really matter when we trade Garza and Demp.
      I’d do the same with Jackson, for the same reasons.

      • NLIADad

        2nded on Vitters!!

        Maybe I’m over-simplifying but wouldn’t an extra 300 points in OPS (best guess of 750 or so for him) be worth the less than stellar defense.

        As far as Jackson, our OF hasn’t been the albatross on offense that 3B has been. If someone is traded then ok but until then no reason to put more pressure on him.

        • djriz

          On Jackson- 2 points:

          *He would offer more than LaHair at this point. Defense, speed and hitting.
          *The pressure he is under was self-inflicted (desire to be in the bigs), which could subside if he IS in the bigs.

          • Serious Cubs Fan

            I would still rather jackson sit down in the minors this year: Reason: arbitration clock, refining plate approach, losing mentality in the bigs might not be positive. But maybe bring him up for a couple games late late in the season and then have him prove himself in the minors and bring him up next year this time to get an additional year of control in his prime.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Vitters is improving on defense, but he’s got a ways to go yet. I’d say right now he’d be adequate at third, but there is room for him to improve over that.

      He is on the 40 man roster and I do expect him to be called up in September, but it likely will not be for good. I think he’ll be back in Iowa to start the 2013 season, and that he will remain there for a few months at least.

      If he isn’t traded, that is.

  • donnie kessinger

    Great question…

  • Diesel

    Hey Brett do you ever take suggestions on the opponents woman in the sheview? If so I might know a good one to use the times we play the yankees plus she might get a kick out of it. Not that I like the yankees but this chick is pretty cool. Let me know when the time comes and I’ll talk to her about it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Will do, though we’ll have to wait a while for the Yanks to come back on the schedule.

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