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great american ballparkThe Cubs go for the SWEEP of the Reds today, which is borderline shocking. Jeff Samardzija has been inconsistent in the second half, but so have Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson – and they fared just fine.

I find it interesting that, although Ryan Sweeney is out and Junior Lake is in, Darnell McDonald is playing center field, not Lake. Maybe it’s because Lake hasn’t looked quite as good in left as in center, and the Cubs want to continue evaluating him there to see how flexible he can become?

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (62-82) at Cincinnati Reds (82-64), 11:35 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 lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Jeff Samardzija (8-11, 4.29 ERA, 3.69 FIP)

versus

Mike Leake (12-6, 3.46 ERA, 4.09 FIP)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Shin-Soo Choo, CF

2. Brandon Phillips, 2B

3. Joey Votto, 1B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Todd Frazier, 3B

6. Xavier Paul, LF

7. Zack Cozart, SS

8. Devin Mesoraco, C

9. Mike Leake, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Starlin Castro, SS

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Nate Schierholtz, RF

5. Junior Lake, LF

6. Darnell McDonald, CF

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • Justin

    Seeing McDonald in the lineup makes me want to cry

    • CubsFaninMS

      McDonald, Gillespie, Germano, Rondon, Ransom. We can group all of these guys into a group called the Southside Black Sox. These are the hitmen you want to acquire for your team to maximize draft pick compensation. They do their job; they do it well.

      • CubsFaninMS

        And lets not forget the other hitmen who’ve contributed to the cause: Joe Science, History, and Mather, Cardiac Carlos Marmol, Koye It’s-All-Down-Hill, Julio Borbon & Coke, Blake Pansybridge, and others.

        The U.S. Army learns how to tank from this vibrant and exuberant group of individuals.

  • willis

    Unless there is something wrong with Sweeney and Bogusevic, I do not understand playing McDonald against a RH over either of them. Just seems incredibly odd.

    • Jason P

      Especially considering Sweeney’s right/lefty splits aren’t even half bad, at least this year they’re not.

      • I love marmol

        Dude they have to stop this winning streak somehow…

        • kuvihorken

          Valbuena is a beast, and will shred you for this comment.

          • I love marmol

            Do you even have a life?

            • Eternal pessemist

              I heard it is a new fundraiser…player actually pay for at bats and he money will be used for FA’s. way better than a batting cage.

              • I love marmol

                Is your brain working?

  • mreverything

    I agree. McDonald wouldn’t be on my team.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com salesguy

    Lake in the lineup for the second straight day +1 Dale.

  • ChiGuy

    Want a Positive? 1 more win to avoid 100 loses and it’s only September 11, as small as it may seem it is an improvement compared to 2012. 18 Games left for Pride.

  • willis

    The tweeted lineups this morning had Bogusvic in CF, I suppose there was a change for some reason? I wonder what. Pretty desperate and quite Sveumish to put McDonald in CF against a RH over Sweeney and Bogs.

  • cubsfanforever

    Sveum is a moron. Shouldn’t be playing any crap sticks that will not be on next years team and IF they are on next years team then 90 losses here we come

  • Steve Ontiveros’ Mustache

    Darnell McDonald’s presence in the lineup only seems to serve the purpose of momentary distraction from Darwin Barney being in the lineup.

  • http://bleachernation allen

    McDonald isn’t in the lineup

  • miggy80

    Someone wake up TWC. It’s time for morning baseball sweet pea.

    [img]http://christinewolf.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/cranky-early-morning.jpg[/img]

  • J.L.

    Bogusevic is playing LF and Lake is playing CF. McDonald is not in the lineup.

  • willis

    Shark with the economical 71 pitches through 3 innings. Dude is so frustrating.

  • jon

    86 pitches and we aren’t even in the 6th yet, does the mental midget still want that big contract?

  • jon

    I would, 100%, not expect this to happen, but actually wouldn’t be surprised if Almora became a slightly poorer man’s Jacoby Elsbury.

    • CubsFaninMS

      With Almora’s physical toughness similar to that of Cyndi Lauper, I can certainly see the comparison.

  • http://Bleachernation Lou Brock

    Rizzo seems to me to be too close to the plate to handle the inside pitches. He needs to back off 2/3 inches and then take those pitches as the balls they are. Make pitchers pitch him away and then drive that pitch to the opposite field. Billy Williams was a perfect model of that approach.
    Rizzo may need to use a longer bat 1″-1 1/2″with this move away from the plate, but with his bat speed he should be able to cover both sides of the plate and still hit for power as well.

    • Eternal pessemist

      Was thinking the same thing.

  • jon

    Let’s revisit the Shark trade talks….forget about double jeopardy and a package for like Bradley/Skaggs, would Shark even net a front liner like Bradley this offeason? Shit I may rethink a Bundy for Shark swap….

  • Sean

    I’m personally finding it harder and harder to justify giving Samardzija a big time extension. I feel like its feast or famine with him. He’ll look great some games and then if he ever gets himself into trouble he just starts over throwing and collapses.

    I know we’ve had this discussion here about a 1,000 times but i don’t know if I’d lock him up for huge money. I would really love to extend Samardzija but at the right price. 5yrs $60M? I think thats actually very fair for both parties but I feel like The Shark wants really big money which I think he just isn’t worth

    • jon

      I’d deal him for Kevin Gausman in a heartbeat this off season, right after I get down unloading Castro for Noah Synderguard.

      • Chad

        Absolutely, or Archie Bradley. There are several young arms that I would deal Samardzija for. It would piss off a lot of Cubs fans that believe he is the savior, but I think he wants/will get way more $ than he brings return value.

        • mjhurdle

          if the Cubs got good return on him, i dont think many Cub fans would be too upset.

          • willis

            Hardly. And I think this is what he is. An ok pitcher that can’t get out of trouble and is a magnent for a big inning.

        • Sean

          After this 2nd half of the season for Samardzija, I’m not sure we’ll be able to get the Archie Bradley’s of the world for him. Still probably a good return but not that stud elite pitching prospects.

          • Chad

            I think they could still get 1, but not 2 as they were supposedly asking at the deadline. He’s still a borderline 2, and a good #3 on most competitive teams and if you are looking to shore up a rotation he would be a very good addition with 2 years of control if traded this off-season.

    • willis

      Feast or famine? Lately it’s been all famine. The dude is exhasuting way too many pitches early and then trying to overthrow everything late. Result? He gets crushed consistently now.

      I wouldn’t extend him at this point unless the deal was very home team friendly. I’d reopen the trade gates and try to get something for him.

      • Sean

        My prediction is that the FO won’t be able to extend him this Offseason and will look to shop him. Ultimately they won’t find a trade partner this offseason but will then wait till the midseason trade deadline to trade him to a team that is desperate for starting pitching. But ultimately I think he’ll pitch pretty well during the first half of the season which they’ll try and work out a midseason extension but won’t be able to and then they’ll trade him at the deadline if they get a good deal for him.

  • Lou Brown

    So now Lake has an OPS almost a hundred points higher than Rizzo, and 200 points higher than Castro. All the talk is that Lake is maybe a 4th OF, and Rizzo/Castro are core players. At what point do either of the three start matching the consensus, or at what point does the consensus change? Lake is pushing 200 ABs so we are starting to get out of the small sample size argument.

    • willis

      Well he won’t get there today, he just got yanked in favor of Sweeney on a double switch.

    • ssckelley

      If Lake can continue to hit .830 OPS I would take that all day at the corner outfield position. I have a feeling that Sweeney will end up as the center fielder unless he completely falls off the last couple of weeks. But I am still hoping the Cubs go after a right handed slugger in the off season, Corey Hart looks attractive.

  • willis

    Although I will say, when he got over 100 and was in trouble, probably about time to go get him. It happens damn near every time he starts. A couple things don’t go his way late in his start, he blows up. If you are paying any attention, you have to get him out of there. It’s been the same script for awhile now.

    • jon

      Yeah, I have no idea why Dusty kept him in the game.

      • willis

        Hahaha, well done. I do think Sveum leans (or has faith) in Shark a little too much when he gets in trouble and the game is still in the balance. Probably wanted to get him a shot at a quality start, but warm day, over 100 pitches and in some trouble…you got to make that move. Plenty of fresh arms.

        • mjhurdle

          i have no way to prove it, but i tend to think the Cubs are pushing for Shark to learn how to get out of jams on his own.
          That seems to be his biggest problem, probably the biggest reason why he isn’t becoming a #2 level starter.
          If they are trying to teach him/let him figure out how to get out of jams, i have no problem with leaving him in.

          • willis

            You know I thought of that too, especially the last two starts. Knowing that these situations are going to come up again in the future, maybe in better times…I suppose I can get down with that. Question is how many times do they need to see it before enough is enough?

          • CubsFaninMS

            I’ve been thinking these last several starts that it is obvious that is what they are doing. If you can’t have faith in a starter with the talent to be one of pillars of your rotation, what good is he?

  • willis

    This is just a bad game for about everyone. Rizzo now 0-3 with 3 Ks. He is struggling no doubt about it.

  • CubsFaninMS

    I believe we can safely put the “Is he a #1 or a #2?” talks on ice regarding Samardzija for awhile. He is clearly neither at this point.

  • cubsfanforever

    Shark should be gone by winter. No way in hell in gets what he wants. Not even close. I say some day he will be a closer.

  • Chris M

    I had a thought on Starlin Castro. It seems to me he is getting fewer infield singles were he beats out a ground ball. He seem to do that alot more his first few years. Anyone else notice this? If so I wonder what his batting average would look like given a fair amount of infield hit compared to his prior seasons.

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