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pnc parkHooray for morning baseball! (For you Central and Western folks, anyway.)

Edwin Jackson had one of his better starts last time out, but it still didn’t quite feel like a complete, beginning to end, good start. Maybe today’s the day. The righty lineup is back in today.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (18-27) at Pittsburgh Pirates (28-18), 11:35 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

Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76 ERA, 2.19 K/BB)

versus

Jeanmar Gomez (2-0, 2.78 ERA, 1.36 K/BB)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Travis Snider, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Garrett Jones, 1B

5. Neil Walker, 2B

6. Michael McKenry, C

7. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

8. Clint Barmes, SS

9. Jeanmar Gomez, 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. Welington Castillo, C

7. Luis Valbuena, 3B

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Edwin Jackson, P

  • SirCub

    Man, getting swept here would really, really, really stink. I mean, like, really.

  • StillCubsFan

    Finally…a normal Cubs lineup.

  • Idaho Razorback

    Edwin Jackson (1-6, 5.76 ERA, 2.19 K/BB)
    Is Edwin Jackson this generations Danny Jackson? If so, since we traded Danny Jackson for Steve Buechele, who is this generations Steve Buechele?

  • mudge

    Plagiarizing Paul Sullivan here: Bullpen blues: Sveum held a three-minute meeting in his office with the relievers before Wednesday’s game, saying they wanted to “define” everyone’s roles.
    “As much as anything, (we) let (Carlos) Villanueva know he’s not a long man,” Sveum said. “He’s too valuable to (not) pitch in different situations.”
    I guess this team is set to lose any games in which a starter doesn’t go 7. Somehow throwing 3 or 4 innings to preserve a win or keep a game close is secondary to being able to run a guy out there 5 times a week. Maybe one of you smart folks can explain to me why starters can go 5-7 and bullpen arms can’t go more than an inning. Villenuava was a starter last week, now he’s too valuable to actually help the team win games.

    • BABIP (MichCubFan)

      Because starters pitch once every 5 days. Relievers can pitch 2 or 3 times in 5 days, sometimes maybe even 4.

      • DarthHater

        Thanks. I’m not sure if this means you are one of the “smart folks” or if that was just one of the most obvious questions ever. :-P

  • willis

    Yuck…

  • mudge

    So the role of “the long man” has less value? Don’t you need a Dick Tidrow, after all, or are you just agreeing to use a lousy pitcher innings 5-7. Cubs are way too easy to beat right now.

  • Bsteady

    I don’t want a normal Cubs lineup. It’s gotten us nothing. I want to shake it up. Put Shierholtz 2nd, and Castro 3rd Rizzo 4th and move everyone down a spot.

    • DarthHater

      Yea, it’s well established that nothing solves a team’s problems like juggling the batting order.

      • jt

        shake it up….
        vs LHP Shark in CF batting 4; Wood in RF Batting 5

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    Jackson 3 hits, 2 runs in the first inning…

  • Bsteady

    And I wanna see more of Sweeney! It’s prob time to make a move on trading one of the outfielders. There’s too many and I think the lack of playing time is hurting them. I wanna see Borbon and Sweeney more often. And you paid Hairston what?, 5 million dollars, you gotta get him in more too even with the terrible start. Maybe against some righties because he sure isn’t hitting lefties. I love DeJesus, but I bet a contender such a KC and San Fran would love to have him too.

  • North Side Irish

    FanGraphs article on how the 2013 Cubs aren’t as bad as we think…not that it helps any.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-2013-cubs-better-than-we-think/

    • North Side Irish

      “At -4.3 clutch wins, no one is even close to the Cubs in terms of underperformance by leverage.”

      We’re #1! We’re #1!

      • another JP

        What’s even more depressing is the team leading in clutch wins. Cards are +4… says it all right there.

    • Kyle

      This is what I’ve been trying to tell you guys :) (and lots of other people agreed, I know).

      • hansman1982

        I was saying it before you so neener-neener

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      That’s on the coaching, imo.

      • TWC

        As long as you can blame SOMEONE, right?

        • MichiganGoat

          everyone wants a goat to blame… story of my life

        • Koyie Hill Sucks

          When teams underperform, it’s usually the coaching.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            What evidence supports that assertion?

    • Kramden

      FanGraphs is wrong….

      The rest of us are right.

  • Bsteady

    funny guy jt….The more Sveum coaches the more I do not think he is the man for the job. And sometimes if you make a change, the right changes could light a spark. Not expecting to make the playoffs this year, but I wasn’t expecting to be 10 games out before the end of May either.

  • RY

    god this team is such an embarrassment; another great start Edwin!

    • willis

      We’re not allowed to speak negatively…watch your tone :)

      But yes, this team and organization are a pile of crap. 4 years of just pissed away seasons. When will it end?

      • DarthHater

        That does it, you crossed the line! You get today’s Negative Nancy award:
        [img]http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-UnSTJPw3QNU/TZTbO9fjvNI/AAAAAAAACkY/xcmXLiRZUUk/s1600/Negative_Nancy.jpg[/img]

        • willis

          Ha…that’s awesome. She looks pretty fired up.

        • MichiganGoat

          come on Darth at least you should get a Negative Ewok Meme up for this… you are the Dark Lord of the Meme aren’t you

          • DarthHater

            I think Nancy already looks enough like an Ewok. :-D

      • RY

        theres no way you can talk about the cubs and not spew negativity, who brought on that edict? anyway probably at least another 5 years of this shit. someone explain again why it wasn’t edwin’s ass that was banished to the bullpen?

        • TWC

          There’s no edict, Willis is just being a jagload.

          But some of you, man, all you do is get all apoplectic on the Cubs. Your entire presence on this site is to wax frustration. I mean, I’m glad you have this outlet for all that negativity, because you’d all probably be stabbing your little sisters’ teddy bears through a haze of tears, but when your contributions can consistently be summed up as “Cubs SUCK!”, it makes you look like a bit of an ass.

          • willis

            What’s a jagload? Do educate me please.

          • RY

            The Cubs give their fans more than enough reasons to be apoplectic. Hopefully there is a light at the end of the tunnel somewhere in the next few years with this organization but most fans wanna see results now instead of taking steps backward week in and week out! I respect your opinion but there hasn’t been much evidence of hope on the horizon yet. Yes the farm system is better, but still years away from making any meaningful contribution to this team.

          • When the Music’s Over

            People come to blogs for all sorts of reasons. Some to learn, some to bitch, some to educate, some to pass time and some to simply argue. In your case, it’s typically to be an a$$hole.

        • willis

          $$$$$$$$$$ No way he was going there. Not with that contract.

          There’s no edict, I was messing around because I got ripped for saying the game was over last night as soon as the Cubs fell behind. What do you know? I was right on. So I was just goofing on that.

  • another JP

    LOL @ our innings eater BJax. What a meatbag.

    • MichiganGoat

      hmm didn’t know that Brett Jackson was suppose to be eating innings from Iowa, maybe thats why he Ks too much… too many innings in the belly… and unfortunately that does result in a the right kind of fire

      • another JP

        Whoops… EJax. Maybe BJax could outpitch Edwin though-

  • Kyle

    Even at 4-0 (on another barrage of BABIP hits), I still believe that Jackson is fine.

    But I can’t blame anyone else for not agreeing at this point.

    • Rebuilding

      Guess it depends on what you mean by “fine”. He’s a mediocre pitcher who is incredibly inconsistent from start to start. It seems that even when he does throw well he always has that one inning. Watching him more closely this year I see why he was on a series of short deals and has never stuck. Tantalizing stuff at times, but it seems he really doesn’t know how to pitch

      • Kyle

        His peripherals still say he’s doing awesome, and that he’s getting extraordinarily unlucky on sequencing and BIP luck.

        • Rebuilding

          Oh I know. I fully expect he’ll end up with an ERA+ somewhere around 95-100. I’m sure he’ll have stretch of 3-4 nice starts sometime this summer. But watching him I see why teams have traded for him and traded him away. He’s got the stuff to be a 2/3 but you never know what you’re going to get start to start

        • MichiganGoat

          His real value is being a near .500 pitcher that can go close to 200 innings, anything above that is a nice bonus. Right now the numbers don’t align with the career rate or with sabermetrics but that will change and his value will be found. EJax is the type of pitcher than can help get you to the playoffs but won’t be someone that actually starts in the playoffs. Hes a good 4/5 starter that is dependable. The problem is that he was the Cubs biggest signing this year and too many people expect him to be 1/2 starter. He’s never been that, he will never be that.

          • Rebuilding

            Agreed. I was in favor of the signing. My only real point is that I can see why he has been such a journeyman. His inconsistency literally from inning to inning is frustrating

          • Cubbie Blues

            No, but, I was expecting a #3. And, did you just use W/L record to support your argument? I thought we were way past using meaningless stats like that.

            • MichiganGoat

              :) yeah W/L doesn’t matter but it simply shows that he is a solid average+ pitcher that is consistently available to throw innings and keep the team in the game. I don’t think he was signed with any hopes or beliefs that he’d become a solid number 3 on a playoff team. I hope he does and the advanced stats says he is so once the “luck” changes so does his but if the Cubs become playoff bound in the next few years he will be a valuable piece to the rotation.

  • Rebuilding

    Whew! Thank goodness we are playing as usual now. I was starting to worry we might not get a Top 5 pick

  • willis

    As someone who was a huge proponent of the EJax signing, I’m pretty much going to say it was a completely terrible signing now. I will gladly eat crow on that one. Dude is straight meat.

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      Agree, I thought it was a good pickup to but he has been terrible.

  • Kyle

    Fangraphs article says that if you account for all their various forms of bad luck, Cubs are performing like a 24-21 team:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-2013-cubs-better-than-we-think/

    #becauseCubs

    • another JP

      Problem is the Cubs put their worst performing players in high leverage situations more than other teams, thus an underperforming record. Can’t believe that Sveum is helping us in that regard either.

    • When the Music’s Over

      That’s good. So, operating under that assumption, Cubs should win just about 80 games this year. I’ll take the under on that all day, even assuming no sell off occurs. I’m not trying to be a downer, but just don’t see this team winning 80 games.

      Supporting Arithmetic:
      24/45 = .53333 winning %
      162-45 = 117 games left to play (ignoring today)
      117*.5333 = 62.4 remaining wins
      18 + 62 = 80.4 wins

      • Kyle

        If we had no fire sale to account for, I’d say 80 is very much in their wheelhouse.

        • When the Music’s Over

          That’s interesting, as that would surpass your original mid-70s estimate, which likely didn’t expect a .400 start. Very bullish. I like it, but don’t agree with it, in spite of fangraphs and run differential, etc. Why? For whatever reason, some teams just don’t have it in them in some years (whole doesn’t equal sum of the parts type thing or winning mentality, or one (or more) part of the team is fatally flawed, etc). It’s my belief this team doesn’t.

          • Kyle

            On the predictive stats, they’ve been better than I expected.

            I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a team “just not having it.”

            • When the Music’s Over

              Yeah, trust me, I’m a stats first person as well, but I believe there are times when stats get debunked. Call it luck/bad luck, confidence, momentum, as previously mentioned sum less than parts or one fatally weak area, etc. It happens.

            • DocPeterWimsey

              To follow up on that, if teams “didn’t have it,” then you would expect underperformance in one year to predict underperformance in the next. It doesn’t.

              What it comes down to is this: baseball is heavily probabilistic. 50% of teams win within 3 1/3 games of what you’d expect given just their net OPS alone: but 50% win more or less than that. Those 50% have a 50:50 shot of winning within 3 1/3 of expectations the next year: and 25% chance of exceeding in the *opposite* direction.

              This team is suffering from two huge flaws. One, the batters do not draw walks: they take just over 2 for every 3 that the Cubs staff (or an average MLB staff) allows. Two, the bullpen is awful: as I wrote a couple of days ago, it’s non-gas smiles all around (except for Cubs fans) when any Cubs reliever not named Russell comes into the game.

              • When the Music’s Over

                All of that, including not drawing walks or a bad bullpen, or awful slugging (as you mentioned last night) is all part of the just doesn’t have it thing. And yeah, for whatever reason, some teams W/L record one year can be noticeably different than the next year with roughly the same personnel.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Nope. Not drawing walks comes from having players with poor pitch recognition. That does not vary from year-to-year for players: it’s a basic tool.

                  As for the bullpen being bad, that’s because it is stocked with bad pitchers. Oh, sure, they can have superficially good runs due to small sample size blessing, as Camp did last year and as Gregg currently is having. However, these guys are going to be bad anywhere else, too.

              • mudge

                That’s it in a nutshell.

    • baseballet

      Maybe the Cubs will win the Fangraphs World Series!

  • Bsteady

    80 WINS?!? haha are we adding in spring training too?? This is the Cubs, so it WILL get worse. Then IF, and that a huge IF, we trade our pieces for good young pieceS(which we completely botched last year)we’ll be even worse for the end run of the season.

  • RY

    ha ha, 80 wins, we will have 80 losses by mid august.

  • OCCubFan

    Cub with RISP: how bad are they?
    Not counting today’s game, their overall batting average is .247. They have had 292 ABs with RISP and got 64 hits for a .219 batting average.

    Studies indicate that in the long run, teams average with RISP tends to be very close to their average overall.

    For an overall batting average of .247, the probability of getting 64 or fewer hits in 292 ABs with RISP is 0.15.

    That indicates that things should get a lot better.

  • another JP

    And just as the Cubs start to rally… rain delay!

  • willis

    I’m at work, for those watching how bad is it? Any chance of it getting postponed? That would be cool.

  • OlderStyle

    So, the FG takeaway is the Cubs are less suck than suck. sigh. That’s not enough to keep me engaged.
    Would it be better to look for daisies in a field of manure and say “oh, a daisy.”? Or wait until the field is producing something worthwhile?
    Since I’m not forced to wade in, I’ll wait but the Cubs risk losing my interest altogether.

  • Bsteady

    Definitely better to wait for something worthwhile!

  • DARRRRRR

    My god, how long will it take the Cubs to demote Edwin Jackson. He flat out sucks. I’d rather start Marmol. Let him get his shit together and maybe then give him a shot at the rotation once we make trades. No one is going to trade for that contract so its not like we’d lose value by sending him down.

  • Tyron

    Wear is Neal cotts when we need him!!

  • RY

    man our pinch hitters have been awesome today! gotta look at the bright side of life!

    • Koyie Hill Sucks

      That’s because the cubs our losing, that is when they are good

  • baseballet

    Pitch F/X has Marmol’s fastball at 94mph. Was he throwing that hard earlier this season?

  • Koyie Hill Sucks

    My MLB TV just switched to Orioles batting practice, at least it’s more exciting than watching the cubs bat…

  • William

    Wow, Soriano pulverized that one!

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