pnc parkThe Cubs head to Pittsburgh to take on the Pirates, who are going to make the playoffs, but who are still fighting to win the NL Central. Doing so would allow them to avoid the Wild Card play-in game, and the unpredictability thereof.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (62-83) at Pittsburgh Pirates (84-61), 6:05 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

Chris Rusin (2-3, 2.89 ERA, 4.44 FIP)


Jeff Locke (9-5, 3.23 ERA, 3.95 FIP)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Josh Harrison, 2B

2. Jordy Mercer, SS

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Justin Morneau, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, RF

6. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

7. Russell Martin, C

8. Jose Tabata, LF

9. Jeff Locke, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Starlin Castro, SS

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Donnie Murphy, 3B

5. Junior Lake, LF

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Darnell McDonald, RF

8. Ryan Sweeney, CF

9. Chris Rusin, P

  • mjhurdle

    Start the countdown for the ‘Watkins should start’ fan club to arrive…

    • Jason P

      I feel like I’ve kind of beaten that point into the ground. So can I instead be the Darnell McDonald should not start fanclub :)?

      • ssckelley

        Put me in both groups.

    • cub2014

      Watkins has played outfield, if he is
      your potential future utility guy why in
      HELL would you not get him those reps
      instead of Big Mac! I blame the FO
      for not taking charge of that situation.

      • TWC

        I know it’s amazing to conceive, but it’s pretty clear the Cubs’ FO doesn’t think as highly of Watkins as some internet commenters seem to.

        • wvcubsfan

          Just goes to show you how smart they are. Everyone on here KNOWS for a fact that Watkins is better than at least two of the players in today’s starting line up.

          • jaslhill

            I think it’s more, at least for me, not that I think he’s any better. Just … why not have him play? Wouldn’t hurt anything, and at this point I could just use a change of pace.

        • mjhurdle

          Well then, the Cubs FO is obviously wrong, because cub2014 knows EVERYTHING about the current Cubs players, their health and personal concerns, their matchups in these situations, etc.
          If he thinks the a move is stupid, then it is definitely stupid.

        • C. Steadman

          The reason that mcd is starting over watkins is bc locke is a lefty and watkins is a lefty while mcd is a righty..not sayin watkins couldn’t do better but he wanted the right against left match up

      • mjhurdle

        Watkins has played 20 games in the OF over A ball level.

        but hell, what do the Cubs coaches know. Im sure if you say so he can handle the OF.

        • Jason P

          Yes, because 2B is his primary position and there’s never been a need for him to play the outfield extensively.

          And find me a scouting report anywhere that explicitly says Watkins can’t play the outfield and maybe I’ll agree with you. Here’s one from Cubs den that says he can: “Watkins can play 2B, but he also plays a solid CF, and can fill in at SS when needed. He’s also played well in LF and RF — and has the arm strength to play 3B.”

          • mjhurdle

            Just my opinion, but i need more than someone telling me that Watkins can play a solid CF with absolutely no basis.

            Here is what we KNOW for a fact:
            – Logan Watkins has started 62 games in the OF
            – 42 of those game were before AA level
            – 17 of those games were in CF AA ball
            – only 3 of those games were in AAA ball, all CF
            – he has played 517 games as an IF
            – he has 880 career defensive chances in his career
            – of those 880, only 77 have come in the OF
            – past A level ball, Watkins has had 22 chances in the OF

            So, Watkins has very little OF experience past A ball, and the coaches at the big league level choose to start McDonald over Watkins in the OF.

            those are the facts. How we interpret them is up to each of us.
            I read that as the big league coaching staff realizing that Watkins is not ready to play OF at the big league level. At the very least, there is very little there to tell me he definitely “can play a solid CF”.

            • Jason P

              Without extensive sample sizes, all we have to rely on are subjective reports from people who have seen him play there. And there are more reports out there than just Cubs Den’s that say he’s fine, I can find them if need be.

              Just because he hasn’t played extensively there doesn’t mean he can’t. Almost all players who can handle second can handle a corner outfield spot.

              • mjhurdle

                ok, well, agree to disagree.
                i will side with the fact that he has played less and less time in the OF the farther he has progressed through the system as evidence that he is not up to MLB standards at an OF position.
                You side with subjective analysis of how he played OF in A ball.

                no way to tell who is right, guess we will have to see.

  • wvcubsfan

    The line up should be:

    1. Darwin Barney, SS

    2. Logan Watkins, 2B

    3. Cody Ransom, 1B

    4. Donnie Murphy, 3B

    5. Brian Bogusevic, LF

    6. J.C. Boscan, C

    7. Darnell McDonald, RF

    8. Ryan Sweeney, CF

    9. Chris Rusin, P

    If you’re going to try to help the Bucs, may as well go all in

    • MightyBear

      Wasn’t Ransom DFA’d?

      • wvcubsfan

        Well that’s even better, with no one at first the Cubs would get mercy ruled in the first inning. OK that might be a little too obvious.

  • Jed Jam Band

    I think it’s a bad sign for Watkins that the FO thinks so little of him that they’ll consistently start guys like McDonald, Bogusevic, and the flailing Darwin Barney instead of him. I’d like to see him get some starts to see if he could be a decent utility player, but alas, I don’t see that happening.

    • mjhurdle

      i agree with this.
      As much as i would like to see him get starts, there is obviously a reason that he isn’t, and i trust that the Front Office didn’t just ground him for not eating vegetables.
      Whatever the reason, it seems to be pretty significant, and really a disappointment.

    • Jason P

      But is it the front office or Sveum? Obviously the front office hasn’t stepped in and told Sveum to start Watkins more, but that doesn’t mean they’ve explicitly told him NOT to play him.

      • mjhurdle

        if anything i think that proves that this is not Sveum.
        It is one thing to not interfere with Sveums lineups, but Sveum didn’t decide to call up Watkins, the Front Office did. If the Front Office called up Watkins with the idea that he would get at least semi-regular starts, i think they would have stepped in by now.

        If Sveum didn’t start Watkins once in a week, the Front Office might stay hands off and not interfere. But I have a hard time thinking the Front Office is really wanting Watkins to play, but are just sitting on their hands for a month because they dont want to upset Sveum.
        just my take on it though

  • jaslhill

    No doubt. I think there are so many reasons to give him a shot that the fact that they aren’t speaks volumes about how they feel about him at the top.

  • frank

    Don’t know if this has been mentioned before–saw some interesting stats on Yahoo. The Cubs are 6th in MLB in home runs (2nd in the NL behind Atlanta), 4th in MLB in doubles (2nd in the NL behind st. louis), and 7th in BAA, 4 pts out of 3rd. Ok–it’s not a lot, but it’s something.

  • cubsfanforever

    What a shitty lineup. Old McDonald and Barney. I am not a Donnie baseball guy either. Lovely lineup- I wish I knew who pulled these lineups out of their ass. Hopefully just Sveum so his ass gets fired at some point. He has done wonders for Castro, among others for such a hitting guru. SO jump on and tell me why Mr. dale is so wonderful. He is a moron on pitching changes as well as the lineup.

    • mjhurdle

      you say Castro, i say Navarro.
      back to you

      • http://bleachenation Sacko

        why the f…. in right, not again at 2nd and stupid in the dugout with
        20 hr’s sitting on the bench. all makes sense to me.

  • Aaron

    The Cubs need to beat the Brewers for that #4 slot in next year’s draft. Tonight’s lineup helps with that long-term “secure more assets” strategy, with the remote chance that they may still win tonight’s game vs the Pirates. Those darn White Sox keep on losing so we probably have no chance at the #3 overall pick. And the Brewers are 3-7 in their last 10 games.

  • mjhurdle

    The first run brought to you tonight by the letters ‘M’ and ‘c’ and ‘D’.

  • Dustin S

    Take a step back and it’s actually fairly tough to think of a weaker Cubs lineup in the last 30 years. Maybe the fine 2001 team (excluding Sosa) with Rondell White and Augie Ojeda. Or 1996, after Sandberg/Grace/Sosa it was slim pickens. This one has to be in the top 2-3 weakest if not the weakest, there’s just no one to really make another team worry other than maybe Lake. I hope in a few years we can look back on the Ransom/McDonald days and laugh that we made it through them.

  • Zachary

    Why does Barney play

    • wvcubsfan

      But yet the player that many on here feel is for sure a huge upgrade over Barney remains on the bench. So either they are keeping him as their super secret weapon for next year, or the FO, manager, and coaches feel Barney is a better option at this point in time.

  • wvcubsfan

    Oh how I love the sacrifice bunt

    • Jason P

      Ironic how one of the most forward thinking front offices in the league has a manager that still thinks it’s a good idea to have your 2-hitter slap the ball to the right side with a man on second and no outs. Or have a guy who’s laid down 1 sac bunt the past 3 years attempt to put one down in a crucial situation after your first 2 reach.

  • Zachary

    Logan Watkins is a better offensive player the Barney. It’s not even a debate. Watkins might hit for tge same average but atleast he walks has more pop and can steal

    • mjhurdle

      totally, i mean, look how great Watkins is at hitting AAA and MLB level hitting!!
      it should be absolutely no debate!

    • Kyle

      It’s up for a little debate. He doesn’t really have more power and he makes less contact.

      • wvcubsfan

        How can that be? Zachary said is wasn’t up for debate. Now don’t go and use your logical fist on him or anything.

        • mjhurdle

          he said it wasn’t up for debate and provided so many facts and stats to back it up that i really don’t see anyway that we can’t believe him.

  • mjhurdle

    nice to see another good start out of Rusin

  • Zachary

    Watkins had a bad year. He does have more power then Barney. Barney only hits homers at wrigley and they barely clear. He might make less contact but he still walks more and he is more of a threat when he is in base. Barney can only field. He has no business playing right now. I still would put money on Watkins hitting what Barney is doing. So ya it’s really no debate

    • Kyle

      Watkins only hits homers at AAA in a notoriously hitters’ friendly league, and even then he doesn’t hit very many of them. When he starts hitting homers at Wrigley, that’d be a step in the right direction.

      You forgot to add “nuff said.” If you’d tacked that on the end, you would have sold me.

  • Zachary

    Their really is nothing to sell. If you honestly believe that Barney should be playing then ur a fool. Teams that are awful usually stop playing their awful players and let their young players play. The brewers just started a aaa bum who had an era above 5 and pitched good against tge cardinals. So my point is just play some of your young players and they might surprise you. They prolly won’t but they should be playing

    • Kyle

      I don’t have to be a big fan of Barney to think that Watkins isn’t necessarily better. They can both be bad.

  • Zachary

    Yes but we know for sure Barney is. People have not seen much of Watkins. I don’t think he is good either I just think he will provide a little more offense. Plus we haven’t seen Watkins suck for an extended period of time

    • wvcubsfan

      Correction, we know Barney isn’t good at the offensive side of the game. We also know he’s very good at the defensive side of the game.

    • Kyle

      Watkins has more than 2500 professional plate appearances. We know who he is as well as you ever can any ballplayer.

      • Jason P

        And that is a player who put up a 2012 season comparable if not better than Arismendy Alcantara’s 2013 season in the pitcher-friendly Southern league. 400 at bats in AAA don’t break his status as a prospect. Are we giving up on Olt and Candelario and Maples and Ayaya and Hernandez as well? Or just Watkins?

        It’s easy to forget, but going into this year, many, maybe even a majority of prospect rankings tabbed Watkins our best second base prospect and top 10 to 15 in the system, which means something in a system as deep as the Cubs’.

        I still maintain that he can be an average regular and that he will be much improved when he presumably repeats the PCL next year. But calling him up in early August to sit him on the bench everyday did nobody any good — not the team and certainly not Watkins

        • hansman1982

          So missing out on 3 weeks of regular playing time while getting to work with a big league coaching staff and he would be ruined? Maybe he isn’t as good as we thought.

          • Jason P

            No, it doesn’t “ruin” him, it just delays his development by a month. Just like Almora’s and Soler’s injuries have slowed their development a little bit. Has my long-term outlook on either of them changed? No. But do I still wish the injuries hadn’t happened so they could be out there getting full-time reps? Absolutely.

            Clearly, Watkins is nowhere near that level of prospect, but the same concept applies. Why take away reps from a still-developing prospect so he can come up and get under 30 at bats over the course of a month and a half? Or more importantly, why play a 35-year-old journeyman that clearly won’t be back next year over a guy who might have a future with the club? Working with the big league coaches doesn’t do much good if you don’t get into game action to implement what they’re teaching. Actually, even guys who have gotten into game action haven’t gained much from the experience of working with Cubs coaches. Look at Jackson, Vitters and even Castro and Rizzo. I’m not saying those guy’s struggles are directly related to some sort of incompetence with the big league coaching staff, but I am saying that the benefit of bringing Watkins up solely to work with the ML coaches is negligible compared to the value of getting more reps at AAA.

          • MichiganGoat

            I expect Watkins will be taken off the 40 man so we can protect another player in the Rule 5 draft and he might get selected by a team that is willing to put him on thier 25 man roster. He’s obviously not part of the future.

  • Jon

    Death, taxes, and people bitching on this site about Logan Watkins playing time. I’ve never seen so much fist pounding over a scrub, really.

    • King Jeff

      Then you haven’t been around very long. Tony Campana comes to mind.

      • MichiganGoat

        It amazes me how Watkins has replaced Campana in the Scrappy conversation.

  • TOOT

    It’s time to say it. Rizzo is gonna be history. Abig belly flop by the FO. He ranks amost dead last in offense as a first baseman. Hell, I think I would take Dunn over him. I think the Cubs give him next year to try and do something, and then its bye-bye .

    • Collins

      Foolish comment.

    • mjhurdle

      “He ranks amost dead last in offense as a first baseman.”

      way too early in the morning for the crazies to be out posting…


    Saw Watkins all year at D.M. and he’s like a poor man’s Bobby “Let go of my purse” Hill. At least Hill yielded Aramis in trade (with the help of other weak spare parts). Logan has a ways to go and shouldn’t start against a contender. McDonald has a track record of limited success in the Bigs and they will always go to the veteran in this situation when facing a contender. Not right, but fact of life across MLB. When they are not facing someone in the race, then Watkins can get some run in positions he can succeed against better RHP matchups.

  • Zachary

    Hill only netted aramis cause the pirates worked at lambs farm during the baseball season