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wrigley field from right bleachersThe Cubs will try to avoid the sweep this afternoon, and it’ll be up to Chris Rusin to get it done. He won’t have all of the regulars behind him, as several guys are getting the day off.

In completely and totally unrelated news, pitcher Jake Arrieta will be coming back to join the Cubs on Friday, when he’ll start against the Cardinals. He’ll be taking the rotation spot of Carlos Villanueva, who heads back to the bullpen. I’ll have more thoughts on that move soon, but the short version is that I tend to like it, heading into the offseason.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (67-52) at Chicago Cubs (52-67), 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

Bronson Arroyo (10-9, 3.51 ERA, 4.12 FIP)

versus

Chris Rusin (2-1, 3.08 ERA, 3.68 FIP)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Chris Heisey, CF

2. Todd Frazier, 3B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Brandon Phillips, 2B

5. Jay Bruce, RF

6. Ryan Ludwick, LF

7. Zack Cozart, SS

8. Ryan Hanigan, C

9. Bronson Arroyo, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Darnell McDonald, LF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Welington Castillo, C

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Donnie Murphy, SS

7. Logan Watkins, 2B

8. Cody Ransom, 3B

9. Chris Rusin, P

  • Jon

    **Looks at lineup, vomits***

    • Jp3

      Ditto. I was excited because the game was on WGN today then I scrolled down the lineup card…. Yuk

  • cubmig

    **Looks at lineup, scratches crotch, walks away.***

  • waittilthisyear

    i don’t like sitting castro against arroyo, seeing as everyone thinks his (castro’s) struggles are tied to his inability to hit the fastball, and arroyo just throws frisbees up there. looks like arroyo is having a nice year though, and i don’t feel like checking starlin’s career numbers against him

    • JB88

      Nothing like rewarding the guy who let a ball go between his legs to lose the game last night with a start at SS today … *Sheesh*

    • Andrew

      Seems to be of the good frisbee throwing variety today. If my memory serves me correctly, arroyo came pretty darn close to a no hitter during one game last year. He’ll throw everything but the kitchen sink at hitters.

  • Dr. Leroy Quackenbush

    We must be close to that 10th spot of drafting next year. Let’s lock it in.

    • Jon

      We are actually 4th in the fecal league standings. I’d like to see us locked in there or even possibly move into the top 3.

      • Featherstone

        It’ll take an awful lot to catch the top 3 teams (Astros, Marlins, White Sox) as the White Sox who are 3rd worst have 6 less wins than us.

  • Mark

    Equal opportunity employer with this lineup–guys who can not believe they are in Wrigley.

  • ssckelley

    It really sucks that Neal got hurt. I would have enjoyed seeing him in the lineup instead of McDonald.

    • Jon

      They are both the same to me, awful.

      • ssckelley

        They both might be awful but I still find a 25 year old, former top 100 prospect, more intriguing than a 34 year old who was a top 100 prospect last century.

      • Jp3

        Was Ruben Sierra not available?

  • Mike S

    Jake Arrieta topped out at 99mph last time against the Brewers. When he was able to spot, he looked good.

    • Jon

      When the FO is able to trade a Feldman rental for two arms with the upside of Arrieta and Stroup it just gives me warm feelings inside. I wish they would actually spend money and stop “punting’ seasons.

      • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

        Not to mention that Feldman has come back to earth. His ERA with the Orioles is at 5.18 . Between Strop pitching a 2.41 since joining the Cubs and Arrietta’s potential, I’d say we got a great deal. I was actually more heartbroken about Clevenger leaving, he was a personal favorite of mine.

        • Jon

          Teams aren’t going to trust dealing with Theo if he keeps doing deals like that.

          • On The Farm

            Teams aren’t going to keep doing deals like that because Theo has this team on track to not have to be full on sellers any more.

            • Jon

              * in 2018

              • On The Farm

                Really? I was under the impression our first wave of prospects could arrive as soon as next season (Baez and Alacantra) and some more in 2015 (Johnson, Edwards, Bryant) And I would assume Soler could be there by the end of 2015, and Almora and Vogelbach the following year.

                • Jon

                  Not all of them are going to work out. At some point you have to “try” and spend a bit of money.

                  • On The Farm

                    Oh you mean signing productive players through free agency, yeah that is one area Theo and Hoyer are struggling (Feldman, Villanueva, Navarro, Schierholtz, DeJesus) I just wish we would spend more money on guys like Hamilton, CJ WIlson, and Pujols and maybe we could be in first place like the Angels!

  • Peter

    That is one shitty fucking lineup, everytime I see Cody Ransom I feel like purging. Bring up Olt for god’s sake, he sucks in triple A? Can’t suck any worse than old ass ransom

    • Peter

      There is absolutely no point in having ransom in the lineup, old, going nowhere.

    • Cubbie Blues

      There are some people who, if they don’t already know, you can’t tell ‘em.

    • Jon

      Olt can indeed suck worse than Ransom. Besides, if you think Olt still has any upside whatsoever, why not let him work his shit out in AAA, why let him fail up here in a lost season?

  • Mark

    Ransom’s agent wants a 7 yr. deal with no trade clause.

  • Jon

    Why does the mediocre Todd Frazier always mash against us? Pisses me off!

    • TWC

      Perhaps because the Cubs pitching staff has been pretty terrible since late 2011 when Frazier bit the big leagues? Or perhaps it’s just a small sample size.

      He’s no Andy Van Slyke.

  • FastBall

    I hate Ransom. If I had some new roller skates and a huge vile of novicane I could do better than him and I’m 55.

    • Jon

      What’s with the Ransom hate? He was a waiver wire pickup that for a period of time, played about his head. What were you expecting? This whole lineup is sucking ass quite frankly.

      • Jon

        How about our firstbaseman, he of the brand new contract, that has an OPS of 606 this month?

        • TWC

          Over the six games between 7/28 and 8/1 Rizzo had an OPS of 1.560. This fact, of course, is about as relevant as the one you noted.

          Three cheers for meaningless, arbitrary, and minuscule sample sizes!

          • Jon

            723 OPS post all star break, if you want something bigger. Nobody scrubs like Ransom just seem like an odd target.

          • cubmig

            ……….ah……numbers and truth. They are ever always changing.

  • FastBall

    Theo’s son in T-ball is better than Ransom.

    • Nedskid

      /\ HAHAHAHAHA

  • Jp3

    Ouch!!! Direct blow to the gonads. Good shot Wellington

  • Jp3

    I mean if you can’t beat them, at least foul tip them…

  • Mike W

    I just love the fact we are starting 6 guys who are not in the future of the cubs today. David Dejesus – 33 years old, Darnell McDonald – 34, Cody Ransom – 37, Donnie Murphy – 30, Nate Schierholtz – 29 and Logan Watkins who I do not see being a regular 2nd Baseman. This lineup is garbage, no body pays money to see any of these guys play. People would rather pay to see Castro and Lake play even if they are struggling. Its more entertaining especially because the Cubs suck right now. Give the fans something worth watching.

    • Jp3

      They are a big part of our future plans, their play will directly impact the pick we get this coming draft…they’re performing fantastically in that regard. Yeah but they won’t be around to see their rewards for the play

    • Mr. B. Patient

      Gotta agree with you. Back in my day (way, way long ago) when the Cubs had years like this, we had the Sept callups to look forward to. We didn’t have the same type of prospect analysis we do today, so we thought every guy they brought up would be great. Now we know better. This Sept could be really hard to watch. Thank God for football and hockey training camp, because as soon as the minor league season is over, there will be no need for Cubs fans to care about baseball.

      • Jp3

        Yeah I loved when we brought up Corey Patterson, Pie, Rich Hill…damnit, they always break my heart

  • RY

    What a horseshit offense we have! We gonna be shut out four out of our last five games at home, total embarassment these guys are.

    • gocatsgo2003

      And this is surprising to you?

      • RY

        never expected it to be this pathetic

        • willis

          Well when you throw a line up out there like this, you have no intention of winning. So no point of any of you watching. I’m watching USA-Bosnia whatever soccer match. Much better.

          Even in a lost season, I despise games where the manager gives up before the first pitch.

          • RY

            very true, i know we are bad but when you basically throw up the white flag before the first pitch is even thrown as represented by this lineup you really are nothing more than garbage, which is a vast understatement of what this team has truly become!

  • FastBall

    It’s MLB AARP day. They are doing this all around the league today!!! It’s old active players day who suck but still miraculously get a paycheck. I’ll call these guys the Milton’s of the MLB. Still on the payroll but got fired 6 years ago.

    • Jp3

      Bobby Bonillia is still getting a paycheck for like the next 20 years.

      • Mark

        Bobby’s agent apparently recognized that this kid may not have any money after retiring so he arranged this wonderful payout for him into his older yrs. So many pro athletes need such an arrangement especially NFL guys. Look up his pay arrangement–very interesting.

        • Jp3

          Yeah it’s awesome. I think Brett mentioned it a while back on the bullets, I’m pretty sure we were in the pennant race then so it might have been around the middle of April so you may have to go back a while

  • Jp3

    Holly crap is anyone watching the WGN broadcast for this?

    • Jp3

      Len just announced that if a cubs player hits a grand slam THIS inning some women wins an SUV… You know what, if someone hits a grand slam for US this inning I’ll pay for it… What a terrible line of BS that car company contributed

  • Mark

    If I just drove my pickup from 200 miles downstate with Mom and the kids with tickets purchased months ago—and this freaking lineup out there!

    • Jon

      We all knew 2 months ago this team sucked.

      • Mark

        Yes, but could you have guessed this lineup–nightmare on elm street.

        • Jon

          Yes? There strategy has clearly been to sign cheap players, look for bargains and flip them at the deadline. It’s going to be like this next August too.

          • Jon

            *Their

          • Kyle

            Respectfully disagree with that prediction.

          • Mr. B. Patient

            The record may be the same next August, but instead of 37 year olds sucking, we’ll have 21-22 year olds sucking. I guess that’s progress.

            • DarthHater

              When the Cubs field a crappy Little League team, their historic mission will be complete and they can disband.

              • Mr. B. Patient

                I’ll step out on a limb and say that happens BEFORE we win a World Series title.

  • Mr. B. Patient

    I don’t know if this has been mentioned, but in his chat today, Keith Law said his podcast today will be with Jason McLeod.
    Listening to that HAS to be better than watching this game, right?

  • Required

    I would rather pay Wrigley prices to see a Smokies game or a Daytona game! This is terrible!

  • Required

    Not to mention Rizzo is not the answer at first base. I have said it for a while. You can put all the numbers you want out there. He can’t hit big league pitching consistently. He can’t adjust.

    • mjhurdle

      Nothing indicates a great, well thought out opinion more than ignoring stats.

      • Required

        He leads the team in RBI? That’s not saying too much for this dreadful team.

        • On The Farm

          Well yeah if you *only* look at RBIs and batting average, but those two stats arent the end all be all

      • Jason P

        You want stats? Among qualified 1B (23 qualify according to ESPN), Rizzo has the 6th worst OPS, 3rd worst average, and 7th in worst slugging percentage.

        According to fangraphs, 26, not 23 qualify, and among that group, Rizzo’s 19th in wRC+,and 17th in wOBA.

        Whatever way you slice it, Rizzo’s been a well below average 1st basemen this year.

        • Kyle

          You should never use qualified only. It biases the sample by weeding out players who were bad enough not to get enough PAs to be qualified.

          Offensively, the league average for a 1b is 257/332/433
          Rizzo is at 232/323/431.

          In a year with an unsustainably low BABIP, he’s still been a league-average offensive 1b. He’s coupled that with again being an elite defender at the position. So all in all, still a slightly above-average player.

          He’s had a disappointing year and hasn’t lived up to the franchise core hype, but he’s not a problem yet.

          • DarthHater

            Exactly.

          • Cubbie Blues

            This is backed up by being 12th in WAR among 1st baseman.

          • Jason P

            The qualified thing probably was a bit of an oversight on my part. But even still, based on team production from the 1st base spot, the Cubs are 17th in wRC+ and 16th in wOBA. That’s not good, even if it’s not horrific. And with men in scoring position, the Cubs are dead last in production from the first base spot, with a .182 average and not many walks either. Say what you will about stats with men in scoring position not being sustainable from game to game, but Rizzo’s approach with men in scoring position has been God-awful this year.

            The BABIP argument is incredibly overblown. He’s hit fewer line drives this year and more infield pops, not to mention that a lot of his groundballs have been weak ones to the right side http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/player/anthony-rizzo/hitchart/1254792?q=anthony-rizzo. His K-rate is also up, albeit only slightly. Some of the poor average is bad luck, but not nearly all of it, and I’d argue not the majority.

            Bottom line – If the Cubs are going to be competitive, they’re going to need much better production from their corner infield spots. Of the 10 teams currently slotted in the playoffs, only 2 are getting worse production from the first base spot than the Cubs are getting from Rizzo. And those 2 are the Pirates and A’s, two teams carried largely by their pitching.

            • Kyle

              17th and 16th are almost precisely average offensively. Then throw in elite defense, and you’ve got an above-average player.

              Batting with RISP is not a special skill, so almost all variation there is simply variance and not meaningful.

              • Jason P

                Let’s see where he finishes the season. His OPS has declined every month this year.

                And just because stats with RISP aren’t consistent year-to-year, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to evaluate a player’s performance in one particular year. Just because I’m not concerned about his ability to hit with RISP going forward anymore than I am concerned about his ability to hit in any other situation, that doesn’t mean his futility in that department hasn’t cost the Cubs a lot of runs this year.

                • Kyle

                  It’s counterintuitive, but when a guy has a long streak of something going down like that, the odds are in favor of it going up in the near term.

        • On The Farm

          Funny how you leave out that among those same 1B on fangraphs he is in the top ten in K% (10), BB% and ISO (9), and is 7th in HRs. Oh and his WAR among 1st baseman is 12th. Any way you slice it you can make certain numbers say what you want them to say, but if you look at all of the numbers you can see Rizzo falls into the middle of that position. Especially when you consider that there are only 11 1B with a higher WAR.

          • Jason P

            K% isn’t significant if you’re not making hard contact when you do make contact. BB% is nice, but it also doesn’t matter if it doesn’t lead to a high OBP. That would be like looking at a crappy slugging percentage and saying “well, the triples are high”. And again, the ISO and HR are fine, but they’re overshadowed by a very average slugging percentage.

            I’m not saying give up on the guy, but this year, he’s probably been the 15th-20th best 1st basemen in the game. Not horrific, but he’s going to have to do better.

    • On The Farm

      Yeah, I guess if we don’t go off of numbers, I am not sure how you can prove he can’t hit big league pitching

      • Required

        Whatever we’ve watched him all year. He’s flirting with the Mendoza line. There’s a number for ya!

        • willis

          BA and RBO surely aren’t everything. There are so many other stats out there that are referenced all the time around here. But this type of overall performance is not what I want from the cubs “franchise” first baseman. He’s not just awesome. He’s adequate, but that’s about it.

          • willis

            RBI, not RBO. Dumbass.

            • DarthHater

              Hey, no name calling.

              • willis

                :) I call ‘em like I see ‘em.

          • Required

            He’s not a guy I don’t want as a staple at first base and the face of the franchise for years to come. The numbers may completely prove me wrong but I know when good hitters start to slump they make adjustments.

            • Cubbie Blues

              He’s not a guy I don’t want as well.

        • hansman1982

          Really, a .234 BA is “flirting with the Mendoza Line”? God, Carlos Pena must have been in full-blown make out sessions that included heavy petting.

          • Required

            I’m guessing you’d be fine if Carlos Pena was our guy too?

            • KidCubbie

              Rizzo has better stats than Giancarlo Stanton. Just saying.

              • Jon

                Only “volume” numbers and that’s because Rizzo has played alot more games.

                • KidCubbie

                  Yeah he’s only near the top of the league in XBH cuz he’ terrible at baseball.

                  • Jon

                    What the fuck does your post have to do with my post pointing out that Rizzo does NOT have better numbers than Stanton?

                    • TWC

                      Jon, baby, why so harsh?

                      Pottymouth.

                    • Jon

                      LOL, I just have no idea where these “strawmans” come from.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      You were claiming he isn’t very good and they were showing you are wrong.

                    • KidCubbie

                      Cubbie Blues u are correct. No reason to get all hot and bothered. Yikes.

            • hansman1982

              If I could get the 2011 Pena again? Yes, please, he was an above-average hitter AND only hit .225. Not only would we get plus offense, but it’d piss off people like you.

            • DarthHater

              You mean the Carlos Pena with the 25.6 career rWAR, who in the AL was an all-star, silver slugger, and gold glove winner, and who in his one year with the Cubs had an OPS+ of 123? Yea, I’d be pretty okay with that guy, if he wasn’t 35 years old, even if I don’t think he’s a superstar.

        • Mark

          Spent a summer with Carlos Mendoza and he was a terrible manager in Double A.

      • hansman1982

        Easy, if we don’t look at any facts, I can claim you are a green space alien whose race lives at the singularity of Sagittarius A.

        • DarthHater

          How the heck can anything live at a singularity?

          • hansman1982

            It’s aliens!

            • DarthHater

              [img]http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/original/2/27065/2455699-2455697-tumblr_m6tu22yikh1rxukuoo2_400.jpg[/img]

              • DarthHater

                You know, I can see the resemblance…

                • hansman1982

                  From him to me? Have you ever seen us at the same place together?

                  • DarthHater

                    Nope

                    • Anna

                      School out this early .

                    • DarthHater

                      Yea, glad to see you’re back making your own crucial and highly baseball-related contributions to the board.

    • Mr. B. Patient

      I agree with you, Required. He’s still young, but I was hoping for more than a Carlos Pena type player. Hopefully he can figure it out next year.

      BTW, does anyone know his stats since Soriano left?

  • ssckelley

    Would todays lineup beat any of the minor league teams? The MLB roster might be the 3rd best team in the organization (behind Tennessee and Daytona).

    • Kyle

      It would crush both of them.

      • ssckelley

        lmao, don’t know about crush. Heck start Hendrick and Iowa would shut this lineup down. Just a few weeks ago 4 of the 9 starting today were playing for Iowa.

        This lineup makes any pitcher look like a Cy Young Award winner.

        • Kyle

          DeJesus, Castillo and Rizzo would all immediately be the best hitter on any of our minor league teams except *maybe* Tennessee, where only Baez has an argument to be better than any of them.

          • On The Farm

            The real question is, could our minor league team get to our bullpen? That where the wheels usually come off.

          • X the Cubs Fan

            Castro would be our best prospect if he were in AAA even at his age.

          • ssckelley

            Yet none of them managed to get a hit against a “crafty” pitcher like Bronson Arroyo, but since they are on the MLB roster we can assume they would pound the piss out of our pitching prospects like Hendrick and Johnson? If rookie ball pitchers can get DeJesus out I am sure our better pitching prospects could get him out as well. I bet Brooks Raley could shut this lineup down.

  • RY

    Hey Villaneuva just out there throwing BP, add another quitter to the list!

  • Mark

    I’ve never been this homesick before. J.S.

  • willis

    Looks like Villanueva is giving a big “FU” to the FO and Sveum for them yanking him from the rotation after pitching quite well in that position most of the year.

    “Hey dude, you’ve been good but we’re throwing you in a pen to pitch in mostly meaningless situations.”

    • On The Farm

      Again, its not like this is the first time they put him in the pen, its the second time this year. Yikes

  • Jon

    God damn it! Todd Frazier again!

    • RY

      yep the almighty todd frazier who was about 2 for his last 42 before he came to wrigley just loves to tear the cubs up. The Cubs motto should be we make everyone better while we get shittier! Slump busters for the other side.

      • Jon

        Todd Frazier is Jeff Blauser re-incarnated.

  • Jon

    Looks like the Sox are going to lose as well, so the Cubs will remain about 6 out of 3rd place in the fecal league standings.

    I REALLY, REALLY, want to get into the top 3 to assure us one of the top college arms (Rondon, Hoffman, Beede)

    • X the Cubs Fan

      Well I know someone will go after Trea Turner early and I still believe Touki Touissaint is the best draft prospect this year dudes a beast.

  • Joey

    2 hits and one was by Darnell McDonald, yikes

    • Jon

      He once was a big time prospect.

      During the Clinton administration.

  • Jon

    Daytona’s DH starts in a few year and it looks like they will get it in. Let’s hope for some big #’s by the end of the night for Vogelbach and Bryant.

    • Jon

      *starts in a few minutes

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