Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

turner fieldToday’s game takes place against the backdrop of last night’s bullpen implosion, and it was the final straw for Carlos Marmol as the team’s closer. Dale Sveum just informed the media – shortly after informing Marmol – that he was making a change, and Kyuji Fujikawa (who himself gave up three runs last night) is now the closer. The move is expected to be a long-term one. In other words, this isn’t about giving Marmol a breather. He’s now going to pitch elsewhere in the pen, and it remains to be seen how he’ll be used. Sveum indicated Marmol would be in situations with less pressure for now. Obviously, if Fujikawa falls apart and there’s no better option later in the year, Marmol could return to the closer’s role, but it doesn’t sound like that’s the plan.

The Cubs will try to salvage the final game of a series they could have won, and they’ve got their new ace on the mound to do it. Jeff Samardzija was brilliant in the season opener against the Pirates, and we’ll see if he can do it again against a considerably more potent lineup (but one that will be without Freddie Freeman, who just hit the DL with an oblique strain that was visible last night).

Alberto Gonzalez may have quietly replaced Brent Lillibridge as the temporary starter at second base, as he’s in there for the second day in a row. To my mind, if Lillibridge isn’t going to start in situations like this, there’s little reason to keep him on the roster. Gonzalez is not really an upgrade, a few at bats notwithstanding.

If I’m still feeling salty and hungover about last night, I can only imagine how the Cubs feel. Their mettle will be tested today.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (2-3) at Atlanta Braves (4-1), 12:35 CT on CSN.

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

Jeff Samardzija (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.375 WHIP)


Tim Hudson (0-0, 6.23 ERA, 2.077 WHIP)

Atlanta Braves Lineup

1. B.J. Upton, CF

2. Jason Heyward, RF

3. Justin Upton, LF

4. Evan Gattis, C

5. Dan Uggla, 2B

6. Juan Francisco, 3B

7. Chris Johnson, 1B

8. Ramiro Pena, SS

9. Tim Hudson, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Dioner Navarro, C

7. Luis Valbuena, 3B

8. Alberto Gonzalez, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

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