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wrigley field from right bleachersSomething tells me Kevin Gregg won’t be getting a save opportunity today. That is a safe statement for a number of reasons.

Game Info

Atlanta Braves (91-62) v. Chicago Cubs (64-90), 3:05 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 is here.

Starting Pitchers

Travis Wood (9-11, 3.05 ERA, 3.91 FIP)

versus

Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.32 ERA, 3.59 FIP)

Atlanta Braves Lineup

1. Andrelton Simmons, SS

2. Justin Upton, RF

3. Freddie Freeman, 1B

4. Chris Johnson, 3B

5. Evan Gattis, LF

6. Gerald Laird, C

7. Dan Uggla, 2B

8. B.J. Upton, CF

9. Kris Medlen, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Starlin Castro, SS

2. Luis Valbuena, 3B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Dioner Navarro, C

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Ryan Sweeney, CF

7. Brian Bogusevic, LF

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Travis Wood, P

  • RY

    cubs magic number at 8 and counting!

    • DarthHater

      Woohoo! We’re number twenty-seven! We’re number twenty-seven! …

  • Frank

    8 games to go for the race to the bottom. I hope this is the last time I ever say that.

    • Professor Snarks

      Keep those words close by for next year. (just in case).

  • Deacon

    Am I the only one who keeps looking at the lineup of a Travis Wood start wondering why Our Idiot Manager doesn’t bat Wood 8th and Barney 9th in the lineup??

    • CC

      It would appear so.

    • DarthHater

      Am I the only one who keeps reading this message board and wondering why Our Idiot Fans think that whether Barney bats eighth or ninth is a significant issue for this team?

      • Scotti

        Perhaps we should bat Barney leadoff to get his AB’s out of the way…

        • DarthHater

          Okay, it’s settled. Scotti should be Our Idiot Manager. :-P

          • Scotti

            I accept and I promise to show up late and phone it in…

      • Deacon

        Good one, Darth. Nice to see you got something out of your book club’s “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” discussion.

    • J.L.

      Maybe you should be Our Idiot Manager.

      • Die hard

        Darths got the idiot part downpat 👻👻👻

        • TWC

          racist

        • DarthHater

          I’ve been aspiring to the prestigious post of Official Blog Delusional Imbecile. Sadly, until you expire, there’s no hope of a vacancy.

          • Die hard

            Until then you can be #1 Shill

            • DarthHater

              Not a chance. As long as the Goat’s around, I could never hope to be more than #2 Shill. :-P

              • TOOT

                #8?

              • MichiganGoat

                Damn right

    • Jason P

      How about because Darwin Barney’s career OPS is over 100 points higher?

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      In terms of optimal line-up construction, Travis Wood should bat 9th, if it’s between 8th and 9th and if there’s a significant difference between the 8th and 9th hitters. The 9th hitter has a better chance of having an impact from mixing it up with the top of the line-up. In short, LaRussa was often right. In this case, it could mean actually KEEPING Wood 9th to IMPROVE the lineup. (This improvement, by the way, is slight and would only manifest itself over a significant part of a season.)

      But, Wood and Barney are close in numbers, so it doesn’t make much difference, even in context. You could argue that Barney’s suffered bad luck and should be given a more important slot in the order because the big picture says he’s better. You could also argue that Travis Wood has probably had a lot of throw-away at bats and maybe a few failed sacrifice attempts that deflate his numbers, and so if given a chance to HIT, he’s better.4

      It’s an interesting debate, actually, in a season of little to be excited about. :)

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        Now I’m curious… does anyone keep track of failed sacrifice bunts? How are they counted and categorized?

        Failed could mean…

        1. Bunted but a runner was out.
        2. Bunted into double/triple play.
        3. Bunted fly out.
        4. Attempted bunt but gave up after 2 strikes
        5. Struck out attempting the sacrifice.
        6. etc.

  • http://pennantwars.com/ Dave

    Great Article!!

  • Jason P

    You could make a good argument that Darwin Barney is the worst-hitting starter in Major League Baseball. Adeiny Hechavarria might be his only competition.

    • DarthHater

      “Top” 5 qualifying hitters with worst wOBA in 2013:

      1. Adeiny Hechavarria – .248
      2. Alicides Escobar – .252
      3. Darwin Barney – .253
      4. J.P. Arencibia – .260
      5. Starlin Castro – .278

  • specialk5595

    Question for Brett. I read this site a lot, but don’t post much…usually intelligent dialogue, which I respect. I was wondering about cubs philosophy vs Dale’s. I love the fact that the cubs are becoming more aware of the modern trends in baseball, especially the defensive shifts. I’ve been kind of on the fence about Dale coming back next year…but the more I watch, especially lately, it ain’t gonna happen with him. Who’s push was it with the defensive alignments? Was this coming down from the top and a change throughout the entire organization…or is it just from Dale? I’d like to see a new manager for the kids coming up, but want to see the thought process with shifting stay. If we get say someone proven like Girardi, would it continue?

  • Jason P

    Fantastic swing, fantastic approach against the lefty Downs by Rizzo. More of that, please.

  • Gutshot5820

    Soriano with 17 homers and 50 RBI in 52 games since being traded. Nice trade for the Yankees.

    • MichiganGoat

      It was a good trade for both we got some salary relief, more outfield flexibility, and a useful prospect. Soriano got a chance for a rebirth and playoff chances.

      • Rizzovoir Dog

        But keeping Soriano would’ve meant winning 69 games instead of 67. So I guess that makes Jed a horrible GM.

        • DarthHater

          Best new screen name of the day. :-D

          • Internet Random

            Agreed.

            • http://www.hookersorcake.com hookersorcake

              This

        • MichiganGoat

          Exactly

        • BlameHendry

          The problem is not that we don’t have Soriano putting up those numbers with us instead of a contender. The problem is that we should have gotten more than Corey Black. Part of that problem was Sori with his no-trade close, so Jed was working with one hand tied behind his back, but still… it just burns me a little to see the Yankees get all that from us while giving us so little in comparison. Minimal salary relief and a fringe prospect (who will probably end up just being a reliever) for those kind of numbers down a playoff chase? Pretty lop-sided.

          I guess it all kind of evens out though, when you look at Garza’s mediocre performance and all that we got in return. A bit lop-sided in the other direction…

    • Scotti

      Glad Soriano is doing well with the Yankees. Wish he had done more of this with the Cubs:

      “Alfonso Soriano’s 358-foot home run to right field was his fifth opposite-field home run since joining the Yankees on July 25. Soriano did not hit any opposite-field home runs while with the Cubs this season.”

      When Soriano is going the other way, Soriano is going really, really good.

  • MichiganGoat

    So is Dale getting credit for tonight?

    • Jason P

      Even though it didn’t work out, I’m glad he gave Wood the opportunity to work into the 8th.

    • Jimbotron

      Nice question, thanks!

  • DarthHater

    STROP!

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      No more to be said. Let’s stop worrying about closer now and focus on a lefty and an outfield.

      • cub2014

        a little premature to get that excited about
        our new closer. I hope he works out.

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          Not excited about him. Just done with being worried about one of the most overrated “positions” in baseball.

  • http://Bleachernation Jay

    Not on our field, Braves! Braves commentators whining over ‘non-called’ pitches in the bottom of the 8th against Rizzo. Give me a break, whine asses!

    • DarthHater

      [img]http://t.qkme.me/3qye8t.jpg[/img]

  • Bill

    i would do a Shark for Bundy trade.I know Bundy is injured but it could be a high risk high reward kind of deal.

    • Internet Random

      If this front office were worth its salt, it would trade Gregg to Detroit for Cabrera.

      • Blublud

        And Valbeuna for Puig, and Barney for Trout. If they can’t pull those moves off, they really suck!!!!!

        • Internet Random

          Jim Hendry would have done those deals by now. This FO we’ve got now is a bunch of clowns.

  • Bill

    only if you throw in Verlander.

    • Internet Random

      And Castellanos.

      • Blublud

        Have to throw in Brett Jackson to get all that.

  • BlameHendry

    the comment section on this particular article is full of lolz.

    Anyway, I think it’s safe to say Strop started his closer audition on the right foot ;P That was pretty awesome to watch, got me really excited about the possibility of him being the 2014 closer.

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