wrigley field from right bleachersCarlos Villanueva is back in the rotation as of today, which is kind of cool. He hasn’t had a ton of time to stretch out, though, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him limited to 70 to 80 pitches, tops. Hopefully the bullpen is ready to be as successful today as it was yesterday. It is now without one of its best pieces, as Villanueva was sporting an ERA just north of two out of the pen.

Game Info

Pittsburgh Pirates (53-33) at Chicago Cubs (37-48), 1:20 CT on WGN.

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

A.J. Burnett (4-6, 3.12 ERA, 3.33 FIP)


Carlos Villanueva (2-4, 3.45 ERA, 4.01 FIP)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Jose Tabata, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Garrett Jones, 1B

5. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

6. Russell Martin, C

7. Brandon Inge, 2B

8. Jordy Mercer, SS

9. A.J. Burnett, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Julio Borbon, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Luis Valbuena, 3B

6. Nate Schierholtz, RF

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. Welington Castillo, C

9. Carlos Villanueva, P

  • Die hard

    A cottage cheese lineup without the pineapple

  • Timmy


  • gridge

    I think navarro should be getting some more at bats. It seems like hes starting to figure out the talent that everyone thought he had when he was a top prospect. Dale should be giving him more regular at bats, hes well deserved it. And besides the only two homruns wellington has put up should be even more enticing to give navarro an opportunity.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I think Navarro might be still a little under the weather from that bat to the neck the other day.

  • Corey

    It’s a nice problem to have when you try and make a cubs starting 9 from prospects and current players and have too many good players to make a decision, haha!

  • Bric

    I still don’t understand why there is no trade love speculation for Villanueva. He has a good game today and I would think at least one or two playoff hunting teams would inquire. He’s god a better than average arm, can start or relieve, and would come pretty cheap. I just don’t get it.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    That’s as closed of a stance as iv seen from Castro.

  • baldtaxguy

    Castro’s stance in the first AB was more closed, almost straight up

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      That would be a significant change – back to how he was in 2011 – if it sticks.

      • baldtaxguy

        His 2nd ab had a slightly open stance on one pitch, but the other 2 pitches he opened up a little more, maybe absent mindedly. Drilled a very nice double to right center.

        • brunsmk

          Typically has been reaching on the ball on the outside half instead of driving it. Hopefully good things to come. Plus that sack fly was not very deep, wasn’t sure if they were going to send him.

          • baldtaxguy

            I thought similar on the sac fly – good throw would have had him or been close. And then Castro would “not have been hustling….” and “we should trade him…..”

    • Rebuilding

      Not to pay myself on the back, but ok I will. I’ve been talking about his stance all year. The extreme wide open stance seemed to have caused a hitch and a lunge

      • Rebuilding

        That was *pat* and I had a long post about it yesterday

  • Carew

    I said I would ho away for awhile, but I cant help it. I think I found a problem with Castro. His feet placement in the batters box. He switch his feet up every pitch in that last ab. When he put his feet closer together it was a good swing leading to that double.

    • baldtaxguy

      That could be it.

  • willis

    Ugh, 2-1 lead and the rest of the game is on the pen. Good stuff from Villanueva to get out of that 4th. Kind of wish the cubs would have gone down in order so he could come out for the 5th and go a little longer. I know the end of his rope was coming shortly though.

  • willis

    Well this was easy to predict.

    And now McCutcheon…uh oh.

  • willis

    Leaving Rondon in here for a second inning IMO is insane.

  • TOOT

    I like this Strop guy, Could be a good investment. High 90’s fastball.

    • brunsmk

      Anyone know the years of control they would have on him. I assume it is a few otherwise he was pointless to get.

      • Serious Cubs Fan

        Strop is arb. elgible in 2014 and doesn’t become a free agent till 2018

  • brunsmk

    What ever happens the rest of this game I like the moves of Sveum having Russell face the two lefties and then Parker to try and finish off the inning. Gregg in the ninth. Hopefully it goes well.

    • wvcubsfan


  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Anyone else think James Russell is basically a LOOGY in the making? They already use him like one, and protect him by almost always playing him against lefties

    • wvcubsfan

      I think that’s his best role and could be used in a set up role in a pinch.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Wow, Castro has definitely gotten in his own head. He’s tweaking his stance mid at-bat now? Open. Closed. Back to open. I think he might need a few days off to work on establishing a stance that fits.

  • jacob w

    Anyone find it weird to be confident in our chances with gregg coming in in the 9th? What a difference a few years make

    • Chris S

      I was thinking the same thing… nice at bat by Marte, however.

  • wvcubsfan

    Wow, pitch off the plate hooked for a game tying home run.

    • willis

      Yeah that was a decent pitch. Just a great piece of hitting. Only the Cubs…

  • Serious Cubs Fan

    Ouch…I just saw Gregg’s trade value take a hit. But give Marte credit, that was a great at bat for Marte. But gregg actually looks like he’s pitching pretty well right now, beside for leaving that pitch hanging to marte

    • gocatsgo2003

      Because he made a bunch of great pitches in a row and a pretty darn good young player hooked a two-seamer off the plate for a homer? Seems like a bit of an overreaction, no?

    • Michael

      How did that make his value take a hit. That’s was a great piece of hitting by Marte

  • willis

    Snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. The Cubs Way.

  • willis

    I really wish Sveum would keep Gregg in for the 10th, Guerrier (Sp?) is going to get shelled by these dudes.

    • wvcubsfan

      Why? No way to count on the Cubs to score next inning, plus I’d rather him be available tomorrow and if he goes 2 he might not be.

      • willis

        Because he’s been throwing well and really looked good in the 9th. But the double switch was made and so far it’s worked out. So, I’m dumb.

        But really I just like Gregg’s stuff a little better against their meat of the order more than the other guy.

        • wvcubsfan

          I don’t disagree for just this game, but I can see the reasoning when the rest of the week is brought into the discussion.

  • wvcubsfan

    That was different

  • willis

    Good Heavens this Pitt bullpen is really, really good.

    • wvcubsfan

      Yeah it’d be nice to have that kind of pen. The best record in the league would be nice to have as well come to think of it.

      • baldtaxguy

        One usually comes with the other. :)

  • wvcubsfan


    • willis

      I’m guessing the Ugh was for Sappelt getting thrown out by a mile…that was basically a pitch out. I think you play conservatively there, just trying to add base runners. Hell I knew he was going there, so damn sure Pitt did as well. That’s why an easy pitch outside.

      • wvcubsfan

        yeah, that and the timing of the bouncer right after the caught stealing

        • willis

          Yep, made me sick. That’s why you play conservatively there. Just get guys on base and see what happens.

          The other side is Sappelt has some speed and they were playing mega no-doubles defense. But I’d still not run there I think.

  • Chris S

    Jeez – Castro swinging at everything. I think his first couple years of being able to swing at everything and getting hits out of it are really coming back to bite him in the a**…


    • wvcubsfan

      If he didn’t come to the plate in an 0-2 hole it might be better

  • wvcubsfan

    Winner winner chicken dinner

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Walk Off