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washington senators rangers logoInterleague play is here, as the Texas Rangers come to Wrigley Field for one of the more exciting series in the early going. The Rangers are good, as usual, so taking two in this set would be pretty solid.

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. There’s also some fun stuff, because fun stuff is fun.

We’re Going Streaking

The Cubs suffered through a miserable four-game set with the Giants, in which they easily could have won three or four games. Instead, they won just one, and sunk to 4-8 on the season.

The Rangers are 8-5, though they have lost three of their last five.

Game Times and Broadcasts

  • Tuesday, April 16 at 7:05 CT on CSN.
  • Wednesday, April 17 at 7:05 CT on WGN.
  • Thursday, April 18 at 1:20 CT on WGN, MLBN.

Game Tickets

You can pick up your Chicago Cubs tickets for the series via that there link, or at Cubs.com.

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: Travis Wood (1-0, 1.46), Carlos Villanueva (0-0, 0.64), Jeff Samardzija (1-2, 2.75)

Lineup:

  1. David DeJesus, CF
  2. Starlin Castro, SS
  3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
  4. Alfonso Soriano, LF
  5. Nate Schierholtz, RF
  6. Welington Castillo/Dioner Navarro, C
  7. Luis Valbuena, 3B
  8. Darwin Barney, 2B
  9. Pitcher

Rangers

Starters: Derek Holland (0-1, 2.40), Justin Grimm (0-0, 4.50), Alexi Ogando (2-0, 1.08)

Lineup (a lot of guess work here, given the no DH thing):

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Elvis Andrus, SS
  3. Adrian Beltre, 3B
  4. Nelson Cruz, RF
  5. David Murphy, LF
  6. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  7. AJ Pierzynsky, C
  8. Leonys Martin, CF
  9. Pitcher

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Darwin Barney is back after tearing up AAA for a few days, which itself followed him tearing up his knee. He’s been missed, and, although his presence probably won’t be the difference between 70 wins and 85 wins, he’s an upgrade.

Kameron Loe joins the Cubs today after being claimed off waivers from the Mariners. His start of the year was almost unthinkably bad: he gave up six homers in just 6.2 innings with the Mariners before getting the boot. That seems … unsustainable. Hopefully that sinker starts sinking again. If it does, and he gets back to form, he’s a legitimate arm in just about any bullpen.

Look at the Cubs starters’ ERAs in this series. Small sample sizes and all that, but they are crazy good. And Samardzija’s is the highest by far.

The Cubs miss Yu Darvish in this series, which is good for the Cubs, but bad for the fans. I’m sure folks would have liked to have seen him in action.

Alexi Ogando has been killing it in the starting role this year for the Rangers, perhaps justifying their decision not to land a big-time starter in the offseason.

The Rangers’ best hitter by far this year is Fat Elvis Lance Berkman, with a .389/.500/.611. Problem is, he’s basically just a DH at this point in his career. Will the Rangers figure out a way to work him in at first base in this series? It’s possible.

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.

This year, the Series She-View will live over at the Message Board. Here’s your … unique She-View for the Rangers series.

Caption the Enemy

A new feature for the Series Preview this year – since folks on the Internet can’t get enough of cracking wise about pictures, I thought it might be a fun addition to the Series Preview. I’ll drop in a picture (hopefully one ripe for captioning), and you’ll drop in your clever captions into the comments. Then, if there are good ones, we can meme-ify them for use down the road.

For the Rangers, how can it not be the legendary smile of manager Ron Washington? …

  • hansman1982

    “Ron Washington, your team is about to go play the Cubs, how do you feel?”

  • hansman1982

    Hey, Ron, the Cubs say that Marmol is back in the closer’s role.

  • BD

    “Wassssssssssssssssssssssssssuuuuuuppppppppppppppppppppp!”

    • Danny Ballgame

      You beat me to it

  • cjdubbya

    “Tell us, how did you *really* feel about Scott Hatteburg at first base with Oakland?”

  • dtheg

    “Cocaine’s a hell of a drug”

    • Coop

      Dang, you beat me to it.

  • ETS

    “Pickin Machine!”

  • Idaho Razorback

    You beat me to it dtheg!

  • Frank

    Ron, the Cubs are favored to win the world series this year.

  • Blublud

    We may have a chance at this series considering we have our 3 best pitchers going.

  • waittilthisyear

    brett, and the other WAR (and other modern, mindboggliingly in depth modern statistics available to us preaching) people I have a question that stems from your (brett) assertion that Barney will not likely be the difference between 70-85 wins.

    Do you lend any traction to the belief that, no matter how comprehensive they are, statistics alone can not fully determine a player’s value? ( i resisted the urge to include a “scrappiness” reference (almost)).

    • waittilthisyear

      disclaimer: after re reading that, it sounds like a challenge of sorts, it is in fact, not. genuine question. i find these modern stats fascinating. attribute the rambling to all the wild turkey i have been drinking on a tuesday (after noon)

      • Edwin

        To more directly address your point, it’s possible that certain players like Darwin Barney have certain skills that somehow aren’t showing up in the current WAR calculation, making them them undervalued by looking at WAR alone.

        • hansman1982

          You also have the issue of “what intangibles are valued at what”.

          It may be that Derrek Lee was worth 1 WAR in leadership alone, but if you put 25 leadership guys on a team, that may be harmful.

          It may be that Milton Bradley was worth -5 WAR in craziness but if you put 25 Milton Bradleys on a team they would win the World Series.

          • waittilthisyear

            25 milton bradleys…i think you just introduced me to my new recurring nightmare

            • hansman1982

              I personally think that team would be hilarious.

              • Cubbie Blues

                Only if Ozzie was their coach and Z pitched every game.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Well, look at it this way. Over the last 50 years, 50% of teams have won between -3.5 and +3.3 wins of where you expect them to be given just OPS alone. That’s well over 80% of the variation in W-L records right there. WAR includes a little more than OPS (errors, stolen bases, frequencies of first to third & first to home) that pick up some of the remaining variance. However, those things really are garnishing the equation: there is a huge correlation between OPS+ and WAR because of that.

          Now, you are going to get some non-WAR stuff simply by chance. For example, that flyball becomes a SF (and an RBI) if, by luck, a guy is on 3rd and there are less than 2 outs. The guy who gets lucky and has 10 of his 30 HR with 2 men on base creates more with his 30 HR than expected. Etc., etc. Obviously, in such a probabilistic game as baseball, we expect pure luck to play a big role, anyway.

          So, whatever else there is is almost certainly pennies on the pound. Of course, we also have proof that the opposite is certainly true: over the last 15 years, FO’s that value WAR and it’s constituent statistics have done much better than FO’s that value things left out of those stats.

          • Edwin

            I’ve been watching Numbers on Netflix, and I keep waiting for you to make a guest appearance.

    • Edwin

      WAR tries to estimate the amount of value a player has provided compared to a baseline. I don’t think anyone thinks it caputres everything, but it captures enough that it helps front offices make decisions based off of it. WAR isn’t meant to be the be-all-end-all, it’s just a tool to use to try and figure out, roughly, how valueable a player has been to a team.

  • JBarnes

    “Hehehe my tongues numb…I love cocaine!”

    • willis

      LOL…very nice.

      Righty lineup tonight, and it looks so much better with Barney in there. Still weak though. I hate benching Dejesus with the way he’s been seeing the ball and taking pitches. Playing a joker like Sappelt instead.

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