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busch stadiumThe Cubs can still win this series. And I would be happy about that.

Edwin Jackson gets the start, and, as much as a series win would be pleasing, a great Jackson start would be almost as satisfying (and would go a long way to accomplishing that series win). He really, really struggled with command last time out (the ball was up, and it was knocked around), and no data diving could save that one. It was just bad.

Jackson is opposed by Michael Wacha, the low-ceiling college starting pitcher who suddenly discovered another pitch and a few more MPH or some such thing after the draft in 2012, and rocketed up into the majors as a young stud. Voodoo magic, yo.

The lineup today is kind of a weird one, with a bunch of righties in there against Wacha, and Justin Ruggiano – not Emilio Bonifacio or Junior Lake – playing center field. He’s certainly capable there, so it’s no big deal.

MIKE OLT! is also in the lineup at third after subbing there yesterday. I’d say the shoulder is fine (well, fine enough), and it would be nice to see him have a great day.

Strictly speaking, Wacha has a reverse platoon split (i.e., righties hit better off of him than lefties), so that’s undoubtedly playing into the lineup today, but it’s a virtually nil sample size. In other words, I suspect it’s not like the Cubs are stacking the lineup with righties to try and take advantage of the split so much as seeing today as a convenient opportunity to play some of the righty bats against a righty.

Yadier Molina never takes a day off, man.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (4-7) at St. Louis Cardinals (6-5), 1:15 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

Edwin Jackson (6.30 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 5.86 xFIP; 1.13 K/BB)

versus

Michael Wacha (0.71 ERA, 2.32 FIP, 3.37 xFIP; 5.00 K/BB)

St. Louis Cardinals Lineup

1. Matt Carpenter, 3B

2. Kolten Wong, 2B

3. Matt Holliday, LF

4. Matt Adams, 1B

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Allen Craig, RF

7. Jhonny Peralta, SS

8. Peter Bourjos, CF

9. Michael Wacha, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Justin Ruggiano, CF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Nate Schierholtz, RF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Junior Lake, LF

7. Mike Olt, 3B

8. Welington Castillo, C

9. Edwin Jackson, P

  • Patrick W.

    Say, Brett …

    I don’t care about wins and losses for pitchers, but as we get a little further into the season, would you consider putting in how many starts each pitcher has had? Or innings? Just so we can see the sample size.

    • JasonP

      ^ This ^ – Would be great

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, that’s a good point. I’ll have to make sure and do that. Feel free to nag me if you don’t see that kind of thing appearing in May or so.

  • Medicos

    Is this the 12th different batting order that RR has decided on using???? He must put all the names in his hat and pull out 8 names around 9:30 each day. I am glad Lake and Olt are in the lineup. They need to play every game Too bad Rusin was sent down. i would have liked to see him a start a couple of times. He looked awfully good in his 5-inning relief stint yesterday. We haven’t won a series last Sept.

    • blublud

      You know, the Rays tend to use all sorts of lineups, and it works for them.

  • ssckelley

    I know it is early but with Vitters knocking on the door down at Iowa could today’s start for Ruggiano be a big one?

  • candyland07

    Remember earlier in the year when Tom Ricketts said this should be a fun year? This is my opinion I think He knew all along this was gonna be season full of platoon switches, the cubs were gonna play the percentages and that would produce a lot of line up changes and that is kinda fun if your not frustrated by it. And it is fun , everyday its seems like a different line up with different possibilities.

    The front office built this roster and to think that they are just letting RR do his thing is maybe giving RR to much credit. Overall RR is responsible and will manage the platoon but it has the blessing of the Front Office and its is this seasons game strategy. I think its good one too.

    • ssckelley

      Ricketts even said during an in game interview that this season was going to be interesting with all the flexibility available on the Cubs roster.

    • blublud

      If nothing else, it leaves you waiting for Brett’s game post to see who’s where.

  • cubmig

    The constant lineup changes reminds me of Sveum-isms. But……it also underscores the versatility RR has at his disposal. The difference in mentality? Exploit match-ups.

    Question: At what point does stat strategy give way to managerial gut instincts?

    • candyland07

      I think that is were RR comes into play. I think its his old fashion baseball instincts. No one can deny that RR is trying to play small ball and with the Cubs woeful OBP and RISP The Cubs at times might need to sacrifice a chance for 3+ differential inning and settle with scoring 1 to 2 runs even if it slightly raises the odds at a Zero inning as well. I think that is why we are seeing more sac bunting for this year. RR is following what the front office wants But that is the very reason they hired him .

      The Cubs have less talent ovverall on this team, but they are trying to exploit the splits in platooning . That is why the Cubs hired RR – he has the clearance to play out those gut instincts.

  • another JP

    I really like today’s lineup… no Barney.

  • willis

    I like it as well. Lots of pop and speed at the top of the order. I really hope Jackson can rebound and be effective today. I’d love to see 6ish innings with good results from him. He’s such an enigma. He has the stuff but still has never put it together consistantly, and I don’t think he ever will at this point. Hopefully today is an “on” day (if they even play).

  • ssckelley

    Anybody else with Dish Network being forced to watch the Cardinals broadcast? The WGN broadcast is “not available in your area”.

    • ssckelley

      Anybody else from Iowa having this game blacked out on WGN?

    • Austin

      I get this problem when games are on CSN Chicago but I’m on the other side of Illinois than Iowa. I have Dish as well.

      • ssckelley

        I have never had a game on WGN blacked out.

    • Funn Dave

      I had to watch the Cards’ broadcast of Friday’s game. It was torture.

  • David

    Shin- Soo- Choo: 0 for 5 with 5 strikeouts vs. the Astros yesterday. That’s not a good line for a $15 mildo/ year.

  • cooter

    I know a lot of fans dislike Barney and I’m not a huge fan either but he really looks more locked in at the plate this year then previous. Laying off pitches outside in the dirt, taking more walks, and he’s hit the ball hard they’re just not dropping in. I hope he keeps it up so we can get some value in his return.

  • Cubsin

    Let’s all hope that today’s the day both Jackson and Wacha regress to the mean.

  • blublud

    I wonder why Renteria doesn’t like to split up his lefty hitters. Maybe put Rizzo at 3, Olt at 4, Schierholtz at 5.

  • waittilthisyear

    i know ive only watched 2 (NOW 3 YEA!) batters, but how does Wacha get away with 91 mph straight as a string?

    • lnfihDeL

      Location. Location. Location.

      Almost always down, when it’s not, what Rizzo did happens.

  • ssckelley

    Woo hoo……Rizzo bomb!

  • ThatCubsGuy

    Boy. There is a different vibe with Ejax today…Seems like there is a lot more conviction in his pitches. Hopefully he can maintain it

    • KHRSS

      Hit, 2 walks and two hard hit outs after the first out.

      Just started de 2nd with a walk and a hit.

      He is all over the place.

  • lnfihDeL

    This home plate umpire blows.

  • mjhurdle

    im really hoping that EJax doesn’t just give everything the offense gave him back in the bottom of the inning…

  • waittilthisyear

    this fat fuck adams is the only guy on the cardinals that i really hate. other than molina, but thats more of a craig biggio type “i hate him cuz he is not on my team” hate

    • KHRSS

      Haha I said the same thing when Adams was at the plate, he is the only cardinal I really hate.

  • Chris

    Is it just me or does it seem like the Cardinal hitters take their sweet ass time between every pitch? This bottom half of the first is taking forever!!

  • brunsmk

    Question for anyone on Junior Lake. I know there has always been so much talk about how strong his arm is. I have yet to see anything resembling this from the outfield. Does the prospect grade of his infield arm not translate to his outfield arm?

    • blublud

      He has a very very strong arm, but he can’t control it.

  • Bixler51

    You would think EJAX would learn after 11 years how important strike 1 is and that walks kill.

  • itzscott

    Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t look like Jackson is long for this game.

  • waittilthisyear

    haha this damn umpire’s casual strike call has twice made me cast up my arms and say “where was that?!” only to see him eventually call it a strike

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Castillo sets up low and inside and Jackson throws it high and tight. I wonder if Jackson really listens to anybody? He had a change up during ST and now he won’t throw it. It’s really not realistic for a starting pitcher to have success with a two pitch arsenal. If he had command of the fastball it would be ok, but he doesn’t. I think he threw 28 pitches in that inning.

  • ssckelley

    Molina swung on a bad pitch. Jackson shaky but got the job done in the 1st.

  • Bixler51

    Question- Is Berman’s call “Cal Ripken Jr. has reached the unreachable star” the worst broadcast call ever or is it just me?

  • JasonP

    So Blake Parker is up to the delight of many of us. Who is the position player everyone would like to see called up next? You’re not allowed to answer Javy Baez because it isn’t going to happen for a while.

  • cubs2015

    Olt batting 7th to try and get him more comfortable just like when RR had Castro batting 6th?

  • Bixler51

    Alcantrera fir 2nd base, move Bonafavio to CF, move Sweeney to Iowa… forever

  • JasonP

    I know he’s just the pitcher, but I would have liked to see Jackson force Wacha to throw more than 1 pitch there.

    • Chris

      Especially as Edwin’s thrown 30+ through 1+IP….. /sigh

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