wrigley field from right bleachersThe Cubs will need Carlos Villanueva to do a little better in the rotation than he did last week out of the bullpen, but, more importantly, the Cubs’ bats will need to finally do some damage against an opposing pitcher. In this case, it’s A.J. Burnett, who was quietly all kinds of fantastic for the Pirates the last two years. He was solid, if unspectacular in his first time out this year, after a rough Spring Training.

Flame away, but I love today’s lineup. A.J. Burnett does not have a strong career split, but last year, lefties posted an OPS nearly 200(!) points higher on him than righties. He had a pretty healthy split in 2012, too, so I’m wondering if we’re seeing it become more prominent as he ages (he’s 37 now).

Today, he’ll start the game with five consecutive lefties. I dig it, and I also dig putting Starlin Castro lower in the lineup against a tough righty. Castro broke out a bit yesterday, but this is still very much his Spring Training (and, frankly, I’m not convinced that, long term, the 6/7 range in the lineup isn’t the best spot for him). Sliding him down in favor of the lefties is totally fine with me.



I’ll have more thoughts on the platoon situation tomorrow, and although I’m obviously very pro giving Mike Olt and Junior Lake consistent looks this year, I’m also understanding of Olt’s shoulder situation, Luis Valbuena’s flipability, and Ryan Kalish’s upside.

As I said, flame away. When the Cubs fail to score again today, you can blast me. (And I’ll just say something about bad luck and sample sizes, and then we can be friends again.)

Game Info

Philadelphia Phillies (3-2) at Chicago Cubs (1-4), 1:20 CT on WGN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. 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

A.J. Burnett (1.50 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 5.16 xFIP; 1.50 K/BB)

versus

Carlos Villanueva (13.50 ERA, 11.43 FIP, 3.58 xFIP; 1.00 K/BB)

Philadelpia Phillies Lineup

1. Ben Revere, CF

2. Jimmy Rollins, SS

3. Chase Utley, 2B

4. Ryan Howard, 1B

5. Marlon Byrd, RF

6. Domonic Brown, LF

7. Carlos Ruiz, C

8. Cody Asche, 3B

9. A.J. Burnett, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Ryan Kalish, LF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Nate Schierholtz, RF

5. Luis Valbuena, 3B

6. Starlin Castro, SS

7. Ryan Sweeney, CF

8. John Baker, C

9. Carlos Villanueva, P




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