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wrigley field from right bleachersI’m headed to Wrigley to take in the game today, so come say hello if you see me in the right field bleachers. I’ll be the one wearing a blue Bleacher Nation shirt because I can’t help myself.

The Stache will look to bounce back from his first non-quality start of the season, and the Cubs will try to play another close one with the Reds (and, like, win it).

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (15-14) at Chicago Cubs (11-17), 1:20 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.

Game Tickets

If you’re looking for Chicago Cubs tickets for today’s game (or any future games), you can use that TiqIQ link there for the secondary market. There are also some available on Cubs.com.

Starting Pitchers

Mike Leake (1-1, 4.34 ERA, 4.40 FIP)

versus

Carlos Villanueva (1-1, 2.29 ERA, 4.07 FIP)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

(Due to travels, I had to take a guess at this before the lineup was released. If it differs substantially, I’m sure someone can helpfully post it in the comments.)

1. Shin-Soo Choo, CF

2. Zack Cozart, SS

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Brandon Phillips, 2B

5. Jay Bruce, RF

6. Todd Frazier, 3B

7. Xavier Paul, LF

8. Devin Mesoraco, C

9. Mike Leake, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

(Due to travels, I had to take a guess at this before the lineup was released. If it differs substantially, I’m sure someone can helpfully post it in the comments.)

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. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Carlos Villanueva, P

  • Jason

    Haven’t seen the lineups yet, but I did read Phillips is getting the day off. Prepare for Cesar Izturis.

  • http://bleachernation allen

    Wellington Castillo is starting. That’s the only difference

  • BT

    Enjoy the weather Brett.

  • Jonathn

    Castillo instead of Navarro, otherwise the cubs lineup is correct. Here’s the Reds:

    Choo, S, CF
    Cozart, Z,
    Votto, J, 1B
    Frazier, T, 3B
    Bruce, J, RF
    Paul, X, LF
    Mesoraco, D, C
    Izturis, C, 2B
    Leake, M, P

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    Soriano should be moved down to 5 or 6 and Valbuena up to 4. Soriano is pretty much useless right now…

  • http://www.opportunity.org Seamhead

    The weather sucketh: cold, wind, rain.

    Let’s play two…

  • northsiders6

    Any chance that Dusty’s history of over working starting pitchers has anything to do with Chapman being used out of the bullpen and not starting?

  • Kyle

    So many empty seats yet again. Between the weather and the state of the team, it’s pretty bad. We’re on pace to draw about 300k fewer fans than last year.

    I’m wondering if between that and the initial outlays for the renovations, we might not be seeing yet another payroll cut in 2014.

    • Cheryl

      Its not only the state of the team it’s also the economy. Donations to charities are down, gas prices in Illinois are up and taxes are up. People can’t afford what they once counted on including attending a cubs game. The cubs are supposed to improve in two years time. Let’s hope the economy does too.

  • http://bleachernation Bsteady

    Why not bat Shierholtz 2nd? Or ask Barney to take more pitches and bat him 2nd? I really would like to see Shierholtz tho. 1DeJesus 2Shierholtz 3Castro 4Rizzo 5Soriano 6Valbuena 7Castillo 8Barney. Just to shake it up and try and produce more runs. Seems to be a little stale sometimes.

    • DarthHater

      “Why not … ask Barney to take more pitches and bat him 2nd?”

      I think we should ask all our players to hit more home runs.

      • Tyler

        [img]http://i.imgur.com/Nal4PAL.jpg[/img]

        • Tyler

          Well that didn’t work.

          But you get the idea.

          • DarthHater

            Eeeeexcellent.

  • Nick Nesler

    Non thread related but I saw Stanford is playing tonight on espn u. I know Appel usually pitches on Friday but I’m havin a hard time confining if he is pitching or not. Anybody else know?

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    Will repost:
    Pitches per inning/ Batting Avg Against
    Villanueva: 13.33. , .171
    Wood: 13.97, .176
    Samardzija: 16.44, .213
    Feldman: 16.76, .223
    Jackson: 17.7, .269

    BP:
    Marmol:17.84, .244
    Camp: 18.09, .340
    Fujikawa: 19.86, .381
    Bowden: 14.3, .250
    Russell: 14.56, .179
    Gregg: 17.26, .158
    Rondon: 17.44, .242

    After yesterday’s yanking of Wood, at only 96 pitches, decided to see if he’s been overused at all. Nope. 2nd best on the team in pitches per inning. Because he is not being overtaxed, he should have been left in to gain experience on a leverage situation when the BP is not getting it done. The BP numbers reflect possibly two things – to me – meaning it is not absolutely one or another:
    1) Hitters will take pitches on relievers to determine wildness, and the Cubs BP obliges
    2) The relievers are not getting swings, and/or their best stuff is not getting Balls in Play, so the counts go long, and the result is better BA for hitters and pitch count rises

    Strike One is an important key. The batter is inclined to swing thereafter at a close 2nd pitch, getting you either a ball in play or strike two. Pitch three is even more likely to swing if it is close, but likely expects a Waste pitch – which is useless – throw a pitch based on scouting report/video analysis that targets weakness. Strikeouts are nice – but if you have to throw 5-7 pitches, you get a short outing under the 100-1005 pitch rule.

    Just my two cents. Time to get a tirade or sarcasm back.

    • DarthHater

      I thought this was a very interesting analysis that I enjoyed reading, except for the entirely unnecessary dig about tirades and sarcasm at the end. I thought that part sucked and detracted from the whole. :-P

      • TWC

        Yeah, no kidding. “I’m going to make an interesting comment about the efficacy of our pitching staff that’s totally worthy of further discussion, but then I’m going to undercut everything by preemptively (and defensively) telling you jerks that I’m not interested in having said discussion.”

        Of course, this is the same kid that takes *any* disagreement as a personal slight, so I suppose he’s just giving fair warning.

        I remain of the belief that it’s much too early to make any conclusions about the season-long effectiveness of our bullpen (thought it’s been sucky so far). Even though Wood was (I think?) on the most efficient pitch count of the season for a Cubs starter, I still think it was the right call to take him out. He was fading — he wasn’t missing bats anymore. The difference from Feldman’s performance the night before was that Feldman continued to hit his spots (and a 6 run cushion didn’t hurt).

        • DarthHater

          What? You’re not going to attack me for using an emoticon?

          • TWC

            I’ve given up on you.

            • DarthHater

              :-)

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          I am NO kid, sir. But thanks, I like being considered young.

        • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

          And Feldman gave up homers with a huge lead. He didn’t miss those bats, but no matter.

          And Wood, as Dale Sveum, said was a bloop hit away from getting out of the inning. (The quote was made in the SD recap of the game.)

          Wood was no worse for wear than the guys you brought into the game.

          The reasoning for taking him out maybe more organizational than situational, but you won’t likely hear it from Dale.

          If the BP was good, or decent, I’d question little the move made. I’d expect it frankly. BP though has cost over and over, until we picked up Gregg off waivers, we did not have a closer that was working – just BP by committee that is not working. (Actually Gregg is a good move…so far. It’s early, so see how it works.)

      • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

        I’ve paid attention to people here. There is (and I’ll admit guilt in bating) such comments.
        Because: We live in a society where decorum lacks, and many can respond rudely to
        any critique, even if the analyst is just imparting some insight they saw.

        Yesterday: the pulling of Wood generated A LOT of back and forth, and personal stuff.

        • Kyle

          It’s a stinking world because there’s no law and order any more. It’s a stinking world because it lets the other teams get onto the Cubs, like you done. Oh…it’s no world for a Cubs fan any longer. What sort of a world is it at all? Men on the moon, and men spinning around the earth, and there’s not no attention paid to earthly law and order no more.

          • TWC

            Horrorshow, baby. Horrorshow.

            • MichiganGoat

              ANARCHY BABY

  • http://bleachernation allen

    Every time soriano shits the bed in late game situations I point out how fucking terrible he is in those situations and there’s always somebody telling me I’m wrong yet he does it every fucking game. Gets old

    • baldtaxguy

      My middle name is allen.

  • Rebuilding

    Interesting Sveum didn’t use Hairston there against Marshall. Not going to criticize since Shierholtz has been better, but given they’ve been in a pretty strict platoon it was surprising

    • MichiganGoat

      The reds had rights ready in the pen and if Harriston came in Baker would make a change, Nate has been the better batter so it was worth the risk and Marshall was not looking sharp – Dale just playing with the odds there. So is this another reason Sveum cost us the game?

      • Rebuilding

        Agreed. I said I wasn’t criticizing, just said that I found it interesting. It worked out well to bring him up against Chapman

  • Ben

    They had a righty ready in the pen.

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    R the Cubs going to blue ball us today? (Please don’t)

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      Barney Rubble…

  • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

    No Chapman tomorrow for sure – 30+ pitches and counting.

  • JulioZuleta

    Sveum sent 4 PHs to the plate in the 9th and they all reached. That has to be very rare.

    • http://deepcenterfield.blogspot.com Jason Powers

      And against Chapman…well another game to win tomorrow. ;)

  • http://bleachernation allen

    Only the cubs

  • Believe in 2015

    Typical Cubs. 1 run away

  • http://Bleachernation.com Ramy16

    Barney… Looked stupid at the plate.. Base hit and we win the game.. I think I am going to turn to Islam after watching this game!!

    • DarthHater

      “I think I am going to turn to Islam after watching this game!!”

      Well, that was relevant.

  • Jason P

    Was there ever a doubt in anyone’s mind that they would fall one hit short?

    So many missed opportunities… the one that most comes to mind is the blown bases loaded 1 out situation a couple innings earlier but there were plenty more.

    I know Soriano had a nice stat line today, but a strike out and popout in 2 bases loaded opps is unacceptable.

  • Hansman1982

    It’ll be interesting to see what the boo birds blame this loss on.

    • Charmander

      Thank you for your contribution.

      • DarthHater

        Hey, guys, from now on, before posting, please forward all comments to Charmander for advance screening. Thank you for your cooperation.

        • Charmander

          Thank you for your contribution.

          • Hansman1982

            No, thank you!

        • Hansman1982

          Thank you for your contribution.

  • Mike

    Lousy bullpen, lousy clutch hitting, lousy defense….what else is new.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Well, screw that. Headed to Sheffield’s – hope to see a few of you. The EBS will be very delayed …

    • DarthHater

      “hope to see a few of you”

      Well, that could be interpreted in more than one way…

    • Rebuilding

      Hey Brett. How long are you staying at Sheffields? I might make it up there for the Hawks game if you are going to be around for awhile. I promise to be extremely positive

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Should be here late. Would love to meet you.

  • Jason P

    Another day, more earned runs for Kameron Loe. WHIP>2 since he joined the Cubs. Time to let him go and keep the waiver wire rotating trash mobile going.

    • cjdubbya

      Fujikawa will be back soon. Guessing he is gone then

  • Mike

    Next up, the Cubs face a lefty they will have no success against, and a guy from New Lenox, that the Cubs could have drafted in 2011, but opted for DeVoss instead….looks like Cingrini is the real deal. He’d look fantastic the the Cubs’ rotation right now. Instead, he will mow down Sveum’s love-affair of a righty lineup with those heavy hitters like Sappelt and Hairston.

    • Mike

      Correction: Cingrani

  • John

    The reason why we should draft Kris Bryant, Clint Frazier, or Austin Meadows just became more clearer. Jason Motte is going on the DL and will have Tommy John Surgery. Pitchers just get injured more often than positional players. Appel and Gray is a Tommy John waiting to happen.

    • Patrick W.

      Should nobody ever draft a pitcher?

      • Kyle

        You know, if a team ever decided to never draft a pitcher in the top 5 picks, I bet they’d come out ahead of the average for those picks.

      • John

        In the 2nd round and on

    • Tommy

      Yeah, thank goodness we drafted a positional player last year instead, because they are immune to injuries. Where is Almora these days?

      • Kyle

        The difference being that a position player gets hurt, he will almost always recover fully and without risk of significant recurrence. With pitchers, there is a significant risk of loss of ability and a very high risk of recurrence.

        • Tommy

          Yeah, I hear ya. Pitchers never come back from TJ surgery these days and position players never get injured to where they aren’t ever the same. Heck, look no further than the successful recovery of our very own Ian Stewart.

          • Kyle

            You can reply with sarcastic hyperbole or you can accept the reams of real data that has been studied, but you can’t do both in this case.

            • Tommy

              You can spend 3/4 of your day posting on message boards and making all your statements of fact (with no backing), too, bro. You always refer to all the data to back you up, but you never provide such data. You’re just a blowhard, and seriously, I get tired of your long-winded attempts at proving to yourself how smart you think you are.

              • Kyle

                Hmm. Someone’s a little sensitive about the idea that other people might know more about the subject than themselves.

                Here’s a good one about how pitching injuries change the future prognosis for pitcher health to get you started:

                http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=19653

              • Kyle

                Here’s one about the risk of catastrophic injury throughout a pitcher’s career:

                http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=17718

                Here’s a good one about the average WAR return of picks by round, split by college and high school, hitters and pitchers.

                http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/analyzing-the-mlb-draft-using-war/

                You’ll note that pitchers have a much lower rate of return than hitters in the first round, and that’s something that our front office has also talked about at length as significantly informing their draft strategy.

              • Kyle

                We could go really old school. This isn’t so much a study as it is an column (though he does use some data). The origin of TINSTAAP:

                http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2197

              • Kyle

                Here’s what Nate Silver, who we can all agree is a pretty smart guy, had to say about the subject:

                “One thing that distinguishes young hitters from young pitchers is that young hitters can pretty much count on making steady improvements from the time they start playing professional ball until the time they’re 26 or 27. You might have a guy like Cameron Maybin who would be pretty overwhelmed if he tried to play in the major leagues today — but we can be fairly certain that he’ll be able to handle the big leagues in two or three years time. Cameron Maybin is a prospect.

                The same is not the case with pitching prospects. Although there are a few categories of pitching prospects — particularly guys with good stuff, high strikeout rates and highish walk rates (think Homer Bailey) — that tend to improve more often than not, in general there is no systematic pattern of improvement after the age of 21 or so. ”

                See? Pitching and hitting prospects are different and need to be treated differently.

                Silver was responding with enthusiastic agreement to something Gary Huckabay, also a pretty smart baseball guy, had written:

                “When I first wrote that “There’s No Such Thing as a Pitching Prospect,” it meant two things, one of which has kind of become lost over time. Yes, it means that pitchers get hurt at approximately the same rate that methheads swipe identities and lose teeth. That’s what all pitchers do, not just prospects. But it also had another meaning—that guys who are totally blowing people away in the minors like they’re so many hot dog pretenders before Kobayashi are absolutely not pitching prospects—they’re already pitchers, and more time in the minors only means time off the living, pulsating clocks that are their labrums, rotator cuffs, and elbows.”

              • Tommy

                Kyle – I apologize for making a personal attack on you. You didn’t do anything to justify that and it was uncalled for. I was wrong for that.

                • Kyle

                  We cool. It’s all in good fun.

                  • DarthHater

                    I find your lack of hate disturbing. The Emperor will be displeased with you both.

                    • Drew7

                      Do you sleep?

      • Kyle

        If I seem condescending and don’t always feel like annotating my posts with links, it’s because some of this stuff has been around for decades and serious baseball fans should already read know it.

        The kind of people who question it are the kind of people who say, think and believe really stupid things about baseball, and they are annoying and draw my condescension out.

        They say things like this:

        “Yeah, thank goodness we drafted a positional player last year instead, because they are immune to injuries. Where is Almora these days?”

        This is stupid for a lot of reasons. The biggest is that it believes that a single contrary data point contradicts a larger conclusion. The person you were responding didn’t say “No position player has ever gotten hurt,” and thus your response was pointless and wasted everybody’s time. The fact that Almora got hurt, and other position players have gotten hurt in the past, has already been accounted for. Nobody was under the illusion that position players never got hurt.

        They also say things like this, just as bad:
        “Yeah, I hear ya. Pitchers never come back from TJ surgery these days and position players never get injured to where they aren’t ever the same. Heck, look no further than the successful recovery of our very own Ian Stewart.”

        Which is just a repeat of the same fallacious line of thought. The person you were responding to had taken the time to choose their words carefully. They didn’t say no pitcher ever recovered from injury. They didn’t say no hitter ever had lingering effects. They simply said the odds were shaded a certain way.

        So when you are crapping ignorance and fallacy in all directions, you should be thanking me for taking the time to be condescending to you. It’s more than your absurdly bad posts deserved in this case, and hopefully the annoyance you feel at being condescended at will spur you to educate yourself on the matter, think things through more thoroughly, and not bring that weak stuff into this site or anywhere else ever again.

        You’re welcome.

        • Drew7

          Damn…

          • MichiganGoat

            Man Cub losses always gets us testy

          • calicubsfan007

            Wow, I missed a lot.

        • David

          Treated.

      • John

        Yeah but hes not going to be out for a year. Like tommy john will do to you

  • Rebuilding

    Good information, Kyle. Theo and Jed have said as much in countless interviews – in the first round it is much safer to go with the bat. Unfortunately this year the top two players are clearly arms. I was really hoping a bat would step up as a viable alternative. Bryant and Moran have, but both have questions around whether they can stick at third. I wouldn’t complain if they went that way though as the FO has proven, to their credit, that they are pretty adept at putting together a starting staff

    • Kyle

      Yeah. I’m definitely not saying “don’t take one of the arms.”

      In this case, the arms are so much better than the bats that you have to decide if that outweighs the inherent riskiness of the arms themselves. I think it probably does, but it’d be reasonable to go the other way as well.

      I think Appel and Gray are clearly the best two, but if the Cubs went with Bryant or Frazier or Meadows, my first thought would be “well, that’s a relief, there must be more to this guy than previously thought. Glad they found a position player worthy of the No. 2 pick.”

      • John

        Thanks Kyle. Im glad there is at least some logical fans out there

  • Dan

    *Drops mic*

  • Dustin S

    The almost comeback is always good to see, at least the team isn’t throwing in the towel.

    It hit home today though how much this season feels sacrificed for building trade value. In almost every game they lose it’s either Soriano, Marmol, Loe, Camp, etc. that fails in key situations and basically leads to the loss. None of those are guys that are still going to be around at the upswing of the rebuild. Soriano’s .148/.185 with RISP is killing this team by itself. But Theo/Dale doesn’t want to lose their trade value so they keep getting run out there. It’s bad to say but I’d be fine with a short DL stint for Mr. Moneybags to see what Sweeney or Bogusevic could do in LF for a couple weeks.

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