wrigley field from right bleachersAh, the old April night game at Wrigley. In my experience, they are two things: fun if you’re with friends, and very cold.

Edwin Jackson and Charlie Morton square off again in an outing that most probably hope won’t once again go 16 innings. If the Cubs plan to win it in 9, they’ll need the lefty-heavy lineup – the one that struggled against Morton last time, but dominated A.J. Burnett this weekend – to fare well. I know, I know, Lake-Olt-Grr, but this is the right approach for now, not only in general, but against a righty hard sinker guy like Morton. As I wrote last time against Morton:

Speaking of which: Morton’s career splits are staggering. Righties have hit just .251/.316/.345, whereas lefties have hit 327/.410/.497 off of him.

You stack the lineup with lefties against a guy like that. You just do.

As for Edwin Jackson, here’s hoping he doesn’t suffer from having to face the Pirates two games in a row.

Game Info

Pittsburgh Pirates (4-2) at Chicago Cubs (2-4), 7:05 CT on CSN.

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

Charlie Morton (0.00 ERA, 2.12 FIP, 2.52 xFIP; 6.00 K/BB)


Edwin Jackson (1.69 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 4.73 xFIP; 1.25 K/BB)

Pittsburgh Pirates Lineup

1. Starling Marte, LF

2. Travis Snider, RF

3. Andrew McCutchen, CF

4. Pedro Alvarez, 3B

5. Russell Martin, C

6. Neil Walker, 2B

7. Travis Ishikawa, 1B

8. Jordy Mercer, SS

9. Charlie Morton, 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. Welington Castillo, C

9. Edwin Jackson, P

  • Blackhawks1963

    I’m good with the lineup. Gives us the best chance against Morton in my view.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cubman87 cubman87

    in the words of the Late Harry Caray, Let’s get some runs.

  • Fishin Phil

    With those kind of splits for Morton, if RR didn’t stack the lineup with lefties, everyone would be calling for his head.

    • Blackhawks1963

      Yep. I’m liking everything I see from Ricky. He’s going an admirable job with the cards dealt him in terms of filling out a lineup card. When / if Olt and Lake show that they deserve more playing time, then he’ll put them in the lineup more too. It’s a meritocracy baby, as it should be with both those guys. Show that you belong at this level…show that you can hit when the manager puts you in the most favorable opportunities to do so…and make your case for more playing time.

      • Jon

        Is the daily felation of Happy going to be a “thing” just like “Tanaka” ?

        • Blackhawks1963

          I like the manager. You on the other hand are a troll who calls the manager names, a whole six games into his tenure, We all get it. You are here to instigage and ride the fine line that will inevitably get you banned.

          P.S. We’re all big boys and girls. You could have said “daily blowjob”, but alas you are so clever in riding that fine line to getting banned for being the complete life-lacking troll that you are.

          • newsguy23

            I may not always agree w/ Jon but I do like the fact that we can all have opinions. It only aggravates me when the smart ass creeps jump on you for that opinion.

          • candyland07

            It seems like the only people that get banned on this site are the people that consistently harass the people do not believe in the front office and the owner. The trolls are the people that constantly defend a front office after 3 years the Cubs are no better and stink.The minor league prospects is a by -product of the miserable placement in the standings. This is 2014 and not a single shovel has broke ground in the renovation process.The debt and Financial Story is really not a motivating force or excuse to the casual fan . The casual fan is not interested in What this front office promises in 2-3-4-8 years . The casual fan ,which by the way is the backbone to every major league fan base and gate receipts ,social media and TV revenue is getting unhappy.

            Do not take offense when Cub fans are sick of losing . In 2-4-6 – whenever the future promise this owner and front office comes true is when people will flock and praise this front office IF successful.

            We all get what the Cubs are doing- they have build the foundation by playing bad baseball . Well anybody that gets mad about the bad team of year prior and last year and the start of this year has every right to gripe just like you have every right to dream

            • ssckelley

              Not my site, just my observations. To me this is a Cub *fan* sight, a place where I can discuss the team I *love* with fellow Cub fans. To celebrate the wins with and to grumble over the losses, it is only natural for there to be a little extra koolaid drinking going on as I would hope most fans can get on board with what the team is doing, even if at the end of the day it is wrong.

              When someone comes here and expresses a different view point, I appreciate it, some of my favorite posters on here are the ones I usually disagree with. But when someone comes on here and keeps making the same negative point over and over it gets tiring and, to me, that is trolling. They come here, stir up a huge debate and just when I think we agree to disagree or have it settled they will come on the next day and start the same shit all over again with basically the same point. After a while spewing the same negative crap over and over gets tiring and most mods on any fan site I have ever been only tolerate it for so long.

              JMO anyway.

              • candyland07

                I would think it gets tiring for both sides. But the product on the field is playing bad and its not all bad luck . Some people are just weary of the platoon situations. I actually think it should make the Cubs better but platooning also has its drawbacks. Sitting young players against certain players is rubbing some people the wrong way and the Cubs are still losing.

                Anybody that uses the argument On paper platooning should make the Cubs better. Maybe dont really see it yet but it is a young season as of yet. Lets hope if it does not workout the Cubs will adjust.

                • candyland07

                  Also if the Cubs are gonna platoon it looks like Rizzo needs a counter so the question is Why not start with him? Rizzo batted 189 with a 289 OBP last year . THe big Question is Why is Rizzo still playing everyday?

                  • Jon

                    It’s an interesting question. The last 2 years of data suggest he is indeed an auto out vs lefties, and platooning him short term gives you the best chance to win now.

                    • Funn Dave

                      Remember that extension Rizzo signed last year? He’s expected to be part of the future, whereas players like Olt and Lake are not as integral to the almighty Plan.

                • ssckelley

                  Most fans hope that what the people in charge are doing what is best for the team in the long run. Most *want* the Cubs to succeed, I have zero control over what decisions get made nor who gets to make them so I can only hope they are doing it the right way.

                  The handful that are extremely against it are simply the most vocal, so I really don’t give a rats ass if they do get tired of hearing the arguments defending the FO, the manager, or the team.

        • ssckelley

          Is the daily bashing of RR going to be your “thing” just like the “Front Office”?

          • Jon

            Only when he does things I don’t agree with.

            • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

              It’s easier just to let us know when anyone makes a decision that you do agree with

          • Patrick W.

            My favorite part is how completely dickish it is to make fun of somebody for a positive attitude. What a misery life must be if a positive attitude from somebody makes you deride them. How completely miserable you must be.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              No…it’s called being real. Not slob-knobbing at the alter of Theo. He’s just sooooo much smarter than us all because he can see and say the truth.

            • Sandberg

              I feel sorry for people whose only enjoyment in life is when people are torn down.

      • Spoda17

        How can a player earn playing time while not playing?

        When has Olt (and it’s not like I am this crazy Olt fan, I just hate this BS platoon crap), proven he CANNOT hit right handed hitting? Most of these posts make it sound like Olt is a liability at 3rd when a right handed pitcher is pitching. We have never seen him hit a righty to even make an evaluation.

        Valbuena is a great guy, great utility guy… but!!! he is NOT the future.

        When you continue to do the same thing you continue to achieve the same result… It didn’t work last year, and it is not working now… And I must repeat what Jed said about Lake… “he will play everyday and get a lot of at bats for [us] to make an accurate evaluation…”

        • ssckelley

          Man this is going to be a long season for you then.

          BTW, you going to bitch about this platoon thing every day or will it run it’s course?

          • Jon

            When historical stats favor a platoon, I think it gets a little old with the bashing. But the #’s say Valbueana is not must start against RHP in a platoon.

            • Spoda17

              Platooning works when its appropriate. Platooning just to platoon is stupid.

            • ssckelley

              Nope, and I don’t think it would take much for Olt to knock Valbuena out of the RHP platoon. I have never been a big fan of Valbuena as an every day starter, his value is a utility infielder coming off the bench. But you can say that for many of the players the Cubs have on the roster, non pitcher ofc.

          • Spoda17

            Last day is today… so I’m getting it all out!

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          Lake has 20 plate appearances to Castro’s 26 and Rizzo’s 28. It’s not like he’s getting benched, the guy is getting plenty of at bats.

          Also, I know it didn’t work last game, but Charlie Morton historically gets crushed by lefties, so stacking the lineup with lefties against him is not “platooning just to platoon.”

        • Kyle

          Do we have to go through all 7 billion people on the planet and give them all 300 PAs vs. right-handed pitching?

          Merely being something for fans’ fantasies to hang on is not a good reason to apportion playing time.

          • Brocktoon

            Give Chris Valaika his shot.

      • BlameHendry

        Oh so you’re telling me that Valbuena and Sweeney have “earned” the right to play more often than Olt and Lake? Yeah okay…

  • NorthSideIrish

    Rob Biertempfel ‏@BiertempfelTrib 3m
    There’s new carpet in visitors clubhouse at Wrigley — made necessary by #pirates, #braves champagne celebrations last September.

    Does this count as the Wrigley renovations starting?

    • jp3

      That’s pretty funny, also tiring everyone celebrating in our stadium

  • Edwin

    At least Castro is still hitting 6th. I like that.

    • ssckelley

      Perfect spot for Castro IMO.

    • Unlucky 13

      As I was fantasizing this offseason about what a 2016 lineup may look like, the logical spot for Castro always felt like 6 or 7. As others have said, it allows him to play his style of game, and hopefully knock in some RBIs while he’s at it. The six hole is often the leadoff or second guy up in the 2nd inning too, so he fits in that role as well.

  • Medicos

    Congrats to Sori. Hit HR #407 today. 50th on the All Time HR list. Class act on and off the playing field.

  • Jason P

    Lefties have a .394 wOBA against Morton for his career. Even our mediocre lefties can’t get shut out twice in a row, right?

  • Jon

    Brandon Belt just his his 5th homerun today. I kinda of get the feeling Belt is that young left handed firstbaseman we all hope Rizzo will be, but will never get there.

    • terencemann

      Yeah, I don’t know why Bochy hates Belt so much. He’s done everything he can to keep him out of the lineup for the last couple years.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Well. Belt did manage to match Rizzo ‘ age 23 season at the tender age of 25 in his 2nd season in the bigs.

      But I suppose you can’t EVER miss an opportunity to cap on anything Cubs.

      • Jon

        Belt is a year and a half older than Rizzo and both broke into the big leagues in 2011. There is not a huge age/experience gap there. But move the goalposts if you must.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I can’t remember the lineup for the last time. Was Kalish in that game? I hope Jackson can keep it going. And I am praying that Veres doesn’t get into the game.

    • ssckelley

      Yes, Kalish started that game but only got 2 at bats. Considering how well he played on Sunday I thought he earned himself another start today.

      • Bilbo161

        Right on there. Some friendly competition is always good. Kalish earned more playing time with that last one. I’m actually expecting good things from him this year. I’m sure that both he and Lake will get all the playing time they need to earn more time or not. Either one could take a big step forward with a good performance this year.

        • ssckelley

          I agree, and I love seeing both Bonifacio and Kalish starting at the top of the lineup. It has been awhile since we have seen that much speed at the top.

  • candyland07

    Why is Rizzo starting tonight? He historically has bad split against left handers? Career wise the last three years ( we wont even put his padres numbers up.) 194/.270/347/.617. One would think if the Cubs were gonna go hell bent on platooning they would start with him?

    • ssckelley

      You just posted the exact same question 7 minutes ago.

      • Eternal Pessimist

        …and he isn’t batting against a left-hander…did you look to see who is pitching?

    • Dales Fired Ear

      I can see two reasons why they would play him. 1. he is considered a core piece of the team already while Olt and Lake are still question marks so he’s going to be in the lineup everyday 2. He’s a gold glove caliber first baseman

      • candyland07

        Barny is finally sitting and his overall metrics are the almost the same without the power when it comes to lefties. also if your core is hitting 190/270 something its time to sit him .I am not saying that Rizzo is bad player but if he is a core player that produces barney like numbers at first base he should sit against left handed pitchers and the Cubs should have a counter platoon at first base – his numbers stink and he deserves to sit against certain pitchers that is all

        • Drew7

          What do you think the average OPS is for LH 1B’men against LHP? I bet it’s not as good as you think it is.

          • candyland07

            almost all 15 left handed hitting first baseman with the exception of Moss cause he actually sits against almost all LHP but Rizzo stats are better. Can you name 3 regular left handed batters that historically worse than Rizzo that starts on their respective team that hit lower than rizzo that does not hit in the 3/4 slot – YOU can not. against L/L split

            • candyland07

              Rizzo is that bad against lefties – i hope he kills the ball today but he is an out and compared against the league L/L he is the worse sitting at the number 3/4 slot.

            • Drew7

              It was a pretty simple, “yes” or “no” question…

    • Kyle

      There aren’t enough roster spots to platoon every position. Unless you want to carry just nine pitchers.

      • ssckelley

        Or have more switch hitters, Bonifacio could play everyday.

  • candyland07

    I did ,but this time i used 3 years of Cubs stats. I understand that Rizzo might be the font office Guy, but every Cub is a Cub, and if this front office feels that platooning certain players and positions should make this team better than why not start with him? How many platoons do the outfield need? Why not find a platoon with 1b experience.

    • Blackhawks1963

      The Cubs have been losers and the laughingstock of a nation for many years. So in comes the very well respected Theo Epstein who says, I’m going to build this the right and from the ground up. And oh, by the way, there won’t be any shortcuts. And don’t expect me to pretend contend and put lipstick on a pig which has been the decades long joke of a strategy employed by the Cubs to get their fan baseball lathered up at being a .500 club at best that is mocked by every other baseball franchise in the league.

      I’m 100% supportive of Theo, Jed and Jason. I’ve followed the Cubs since 1977 and it’s largely been a miserable existence not counting a few years under Dallas Green. I want to be a real big boy baseball organization like they have in St Louis, Boston and several other cities. I’ll gladly suck it up for several years to get that real sustainable big boy ball club that doesn’t need to pretend contend any longer or fool a fan base who is easily seduced by false competitiveness and has therefore been branded with the derogatory label of the Luvable Losers by the rest of the nation.

      Thank you very much.

  • Jon

    Ryan Braun has hit 3HRs today. I think another piss test might be in order.

    • ssckelley

      Lmao, make sure it is a Cub fan who picks up the specimen.

  • Dustin S

    I kind of saw the platoon-heavy lineups sticking around with RR after scoring 8 runs Sunday. From a personal standpoint I’m more traditional and would prefer a “standard” daily lineup to help keep guys in a groove. But it’s hard to argue with the recent results. After the run scoring problems early this season he’ll probably be happy to latch on to anything that he can find that works.

    I do worry though that 1B will eventually turn into a Rizzo/Olt platoon. It might look good on paper to Renteria but it would be rough to give up on Rizzo vs. lefties already (or Olt vs. righties for that matter). Once a player starts platooning it seems like it’s hard to break out of that and get back to being an everyday player.

    • ssckelley

      If you platoon Rizzo with Olt then who starts at third? You cannot platoon every position and I would think we would want Rizzo against lefties before Valbuena.

    • candyland07

      How many season do The Cubs give Rizzo ? He is that bad against lefties and at the minimum i think he should at least bat lower in the order when facing a LHP. All i am saying if people are gonna argue about platooning let be fair to all involved. I just want the Cubs to do the best they can and if a platoon lineup is the strategy this season. Then the Cubs should address the number 3/4 slot in the batting order . How many 190/271/350/621 continue to bat in that slot that is suppose to produce.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Sweeney and Schierholtz get it going this ones in the bag. What!? ok

    • ssckelley

      You got about 5 hours left….get it all out!

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    The stands look pretty sparcely occupied tonight.

    • Jason P

      The in house crowd is probably sub-10000, though that could change when late arrivals filter in.

  • Medicos

    No perfect game tonite. Looking at those Pirate BAs it shows a fan that a team can be successful with excellent starting and relief pitching plus a decent defense.

  • ssckelley

    Whelp, this game is a loss.

    • itzscott


      I’m just wondering when we’re going to put the sexy peripherals and bad luck excuses aside, call it as we SEE it and conclude that Edwin Jackson sucks.

      • Kyle

        His peripherals suck this year, so we can all agree that he has for-realz sucked so far.

      • Rebuilding

        This is who Jackson has always been. He’ll now work 4 perfect innings. Then if the Cubs get close he’ll implode. He always puts up average numbers, but he finds ways to lose. I’m as Saber inclined as anyone but there is a reason he’s been with half the teams in baseball – he’s the definition of a journeyman. Unfortunately, one signed for another $40 million +

  • Rebuilding

    For those of you that think pitch framing is made up, a waste of time for star heads or cheating, please watch Castillo tonight. He jerks around so much that even balls right down the middle look like balls

  • jp3

    Looking at iowa’s lineup again tonight, they’ve got quite the infield logjam. Alcantara is sitting for at least the 2nd time this year already with no injury that I know of. Kind of annoying because the young guys like him and Javier need all the ABs they can get

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I hope the cubs can hit tonight. A poor start.

  • ssckelley

    Jackson is tossing batting practice right now.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      Yeah, those are some soft, flat looking pitches.

  • Rebuilding

    No bad luck for Jackson tonight. Every ball has been hit right on the button.

  • Jason P

    Pretty much can’t allow a run for the rest of the game now if we have any chance of coming back.

  • Jason P

    This is where a veteran starter has to buckle down and throw 5 or 6 more quality innings and not go out next inning and give up another 4.

  • college_of_coaches

    In the wake of Sveum’s criticism last season, Edwin Jackson came into tonight’s game with a plan. That plan was to face the entire Pirates lineup in the first inning to see what they’ve got.

  • njmass

    Jackson sucks so bad. I’m hoping he pulls a Kerry Wood and decides to hang them up half way through the season. One can hope. Whatever he throws, fastball or curveball, is belt high. What a distaste that we have to watch this fit 3 more years.

  • TonyP

    Thanks for dropping a big deuce on my evening Edwin.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    Can’t wait to hear Brett’s excuses for Jackson tonight. Bad luck?

    I swear if Edwin Jackson isn’t happy with his agent, he should call Brett the next time he needs to negotiate. I love Brett’s writing and this site, but that’s the one thing that bothers me. His seemingly unending love for Edwin Jackson.

    • Eternal Pessimist

      I would take a deep breath and realize that Brett has been consistent about measuring the player by the metrics. Yes, luck does play a roll in performance. BABIP matters. FO/GO matters.

      I haven’t heard Brett going out here implying Jackson was unlucky today, just that he has generally had some back luck last year and he expects him be more successful this year. Jackson is also paid to be about a #3 pitcher, so you probably shouldn’t expect him to pitch like Price.

      …and yes, he really has sucked so far today.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        This is all spot on.

  • Jon

    I take everything back, maybe it’s just best Theo sits on the sidelines during FA. Yeeesh

  • Jason P

    If they’re going to give you 4 outs, you’ve got to cash in.