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wrigley field from right bleachersThe Cubs have lost five in row, and it ain’t because of the pitching. We’ll see if both ends of that hold true again today, with Edwin Jackson starting, and the lineup stacked with righty bats to face lefty Tony Cingrani.

I won’t even mention Jackson’s hilariously inflated .396 BABIP, which is almost certainly the primary reason for his elevated ERA, because I know that’s not what people want to hear about Jackson.

The Cubs have scored just one run over their last three games. Woof.

If the Cubs lose today, they lock in their sixth straight series loss to open the season. Double woof.

Game Info

Cincinnati Reds (7-9) at Chicago Cubs (4-11), 1:20 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

Tony Cingrani (2.60 ERA 3.07 FIP, 3.73 xFIP; 2.22 K/BB)

versus

Edwin Jackson (6.19 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 5.03 xFIP; 1.27 K/BB)

Cincinnati Reds Lineup

1. Billy Hamilton, CF

2. Joey Votto, 1B

3. Brandon Phillips, 2B

4. Jay Bruce, RF

5. Todd Frazier, 3B

6. Chris Heisey, LF

7. Devin Mesoraco, C

8. Zack Cosart, SS

9. Tony Cingrani, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Junior Lake, LF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Justin Ruggiano, RF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Mike Olt, 3B

7. Welington Castillo, C

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Edwin Jackson, P

  • Mike

    Wouldn’t a 30% line drive rate account for an elevated BABIP though?

  • Lou Brown

    MIKE OLT! Sorry, I just love that Arrested Development reference.

  • half_full_beer_mug

    Jackson blows! Worst starting pitcher in the history of baseball!! Why even play today, he’s pitching, the Cubs lose!!!

    Does that about cover it?

  • ruby2626

    Schierholz yest and Ruggiano today, can’t say we don’t lack cleanup hitters.

    Anyone else starting to worry about Kris Bryant’s K percentage. Up to .286 with 4 homers and an ungodly .455 OBP but that 33% K rate for his minor league career kind of sticks out. Can you imagine a lineup of Bryant, Baez, Olt, Lake and just for fun we’ll call up Brett Jackson. We’d have 1,000 strikeouts for the year by the All Star break.

    • Mike

      Bryant doesn’t have a 33% K rate though so yeah…

      • ruby2626

        42 at bats with 14 K’s this year exactly 33% was a little better last year.

        • ruby2626

          Ok I get it, need to add the 14 to the 42. Duh

          • Mike

            You go by plate appearances not at bats.

            • Eternal Pessimist

              If we are willing to fear his 33% K rate on the small sample size then we must also count on his .455 OBP rate as well…it’s awful early to count on these numbers, good or bad.

    • Don Eaddy

      His walk rate is incredibly high right now too…

    • Don Eaddy

      25.5% K rate. 18.2% walk rate.

      1.097 OPS

      .333 BABIP

      He is doing fine

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        Agreed. No need to worry about Bryant right now.

  • Canadian Cubs Fan

    I don’t think it’s an inflated BABIP, I think the balls that are put in play are smoked.

    In the game against St. Louis, he got the benefit of some line drives that were hit right at defenders.

    • Mike

      Yeah, 30% line drive rate has a lot to do with that BABIP. He is walking a lot of guys right now too, not a winning combo.

  • renegade4196

    Let me predict this one:
    The Cubs will lose.

    • TWC

      You were wrong.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Don’t don’t understand Lake batting 2nd and Ruggs 4th.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      I get Lake batting second. It’s strikeout or hard hit out. Double plays will be few and far between.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Double plays are not a criterion for your #2 hitter. You want your best combination of slugging and OBP in the #2 slot to maximize run production. That often correlates with OBPs because good slugging often accompanies lots of hard-hit grounders. (The homers, doubles and walks make up for that if a guy has good OPS.)

        • roz

          How many teams actually do that? I know the Reds have been doing it with Votto in the 2 spot, but I can’t think of many teams that don’t hit their “best” hitter third.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The Angels and Nats both are doing so, albeit possibly (probably) for the wrong reasons. TB almost does: they bat Zobrist 2nd, although Longoria would be a slightly better choice. (Most teams would bat those two 3-4 rather than 2-3.)

            Not enough teams do this; however, baseball tactics often are based more on belief than on empiricism or logic. Indeed, how many baseball players believe that the role of the #2 hitters is to ground out to the opposite side to advancer runners? (I’ve read left-handed hitters state this, including Anthony Rizzo!)

  • GoCubs

    Are the Cubs going to try to hit to the opposite field today? Or will the Cubs be PULL HAPPY like they have been most of the year?

  • cubbiehawkeye

    At this point I just hate seeing Barney in any lineup. I realize Cingrani is a tough lefty and valbuena isn’t an everyday player (in a competitive line up) but Valbuena should see most starts at 2B with Bonafacio in Center. Tough Righties you put Valbuena at 3B and Bonafacio at 2B with Sweeney in Center. IMO

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Well lookie there, proof a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and again.

  • http://BN Sacko

    Nobody is doing jack..I don’t like Barney either..at this point whats the difference.

    • cubbiehawkeye

      Valbuena has four walks in last three games? Not Horrible

    • cubbiehawkeye

      OBP .400 for Valbuena

  • Kyle

    Jackson’s xFIP is 5.03. He’s walking 6.19 per nine innings. Those are not the peripherals of a good, or even average, performance. Those are bad.

    His bad luck with hits falling in is balanced out with his good luck that no fly balls have turned into HRs yet.

    I wonder how long it will take Renteria to notice that Bonifacio’s pixie dust wore off and he’s terrible now.

    • 70′s Cub

      Pixie dust my ass 2 hits today! This is the perfect sport for the half empty negative type your already riding OLT everyday when he has not even batted 50 times yet! Give it a rest the dude is coming back from a serious head injury….

  • Rudy N

    I went out to the bars last night after the I-Cubs game and ended up hanging out with Marcos Mateo. My buddy and I both speak Spanish and we started talking to this dude who was posted up at the bar and It ended being Marcos. He was a really cool guy! It was his birthday and was out by himself having some drinks. He had been with the rest of the latinos (including Javy) earlier and showed us some pics. He also said Javy is fine and should be back in 3 days. He gave my buddy his baseball card (apparently he carries his cards around with him in his wallet, haha!) and his phone number and said to hit him up to go out. I doubt it actually happens, but he also said he’d bring the other guys out so that would awesome. Also, I got him to agree to go to the strip club with us and some girls we were with… That would have been epic, but we ended just leaving without him. Anyways the game itself was boring but we had a good time afterwords!

    • Funn Dave

      Haha, too cool.

  • GoCubs

    Almost all the Reds tried to hit the ball to the opposite field. Got two hits. Now, the Cubs? Always PULL HAPPY. Good teams always think opposite field.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Actually, good hitters hit the ball based on where it is pitched: if you “think” opposite field on inner half pitches, then you are going to make a lot of soft outs.

      • half_full_beer_mug

        Probably should read good hitters are WILLING to hit the ball the other way.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Even “willing” isn’t the correct word. Really good hitters have in their arsenal good opposite field swings that they can execute on particular types of pitches. It’s like a form in martial arts: instantaneous recognition of the pitch as (say) outer-half fastball and execution of the form.

          Ted Wililams is a great example of a great hitter who didn’t have an opposite field swing: he always insisted that the pitcher had actually beaten *him* if he (Williams) hit an opposite field HR. (Of course, Williams isn’t exactly the most sensible model for Joe MLBer, is he….)

          • half_full_beer_mug

            If your that good, I guess you don’t need but one swing and one approach.

            What you described in you first statement, is really what I meant by “willing.”

            • DocPeterWimsey

              Ah, OK: nothing like being separated by a common language! (With possible apologies to Shaw….)

              • half_full_beer_mug

                yeah stupid engineer brain…..said willing when really meant being a good enough hitter to have different approaches triggered upon split second subconscious decision to attempt to hit the ball in the correct direction :)

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  You know, it is one thing that I think that we forget after we stop playing baseball: you don’t have time to think when you are hitting. You get too used to softball, where you can read a Tolstoy novel between the time the pitcher releases the ball and the time you need to swing. Do I want to hit to left? To right? Their second baseman would look cute running back on a popup. Man, co-ed softball is great. I’m hungry. mmmm, foood….. Oh, wait: gotta swing now.

  • cubs2015

    Edwin missing spots again early. Even the strikeout wasn’t where it was supposed to be.. Hopefully he can keep getting out of innings

  • cubmig

    WOW!!!!……….can’t believe my eyes…….Cubs score in a risp situation!

  • GoCubs

    Castro would be even better hitter if he consistently thought about going the opposite field. :(

  • willis

    That double play sucked but 31 pitches for Cingrani is a good start for the cubs.

  • cubmig

    ….anyone notice that a “spare part” spared a “quality ” part a bit of “shame”?………baseball is full of unexpecteds.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Do you mean that a right handed fourth outfielder got a hit after a left handed struck out after a good AB against a left handed pitcher?

      Oh and MIKE OLT!

      • half_full_beer_mug

        * should read left handed first baseman *

  • roz

    Gosh darn Mike Olt and his contact issues :)

    • Funn Dave

      Home run or not, he’s still hitting just .233.

      • half_full_beer_mug

        Which is what fourth or fifth best on this team?

        • Funn Dave

          Oof. Good point.

    • itzscott

      According to the experts on this board, that’s not supposed to happen. Must’ve been just some bad luck by the Red pitcher.

      • Kyle

        Olt has some power and isn’t awful against lefties.

        I still don’t understand it, but I guarantee people will say that his HR against a lefty is proof that only playing him against lefties is a bad idea.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          See below, they already did.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        I don’t think you understand the words that are coming out of our mouths?

        But thank you for playing.

    • Jason P

      Surprisingly, Olt hasn’t been bad at all this year. His OPS is really good (.847), though granted it has come mostly with the platoon advantage. I hope they continue to ease him in with Valbuena taking roughly 35% of the third base with perhaps an eye on expanding his role in early June.

      • Kyle

        It’s a combination of platoon advantage and an unsustainable HR/FB rate (his power is good, but if he could keep this ratio up, he’d be the most powerful hitter in history by a long shot).

        The Cubs are doing the right thing to get some value out of him. I’d still be very surprised if he could ever hit righties enough to be an everyday player.

        • roz

          Do you know of anywhere that has minor league splits? Fangraphs and BR only have splits for major league games.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            Minor league central does.

            You can also get current team splits from the player profile linked from the team page.

            For example, click on a boxscore for a Tennessee game, then click on Bryant’s name, and you should get what you’re looking for.

        • Orval Overall

          The thing about being this vocal is, you’re going to own this own way or another. Either you’re the cold eyed realist that saw through the Olt myth before most everyone else, or you’re the idiot that wanted to give up on MIKE OLT(!) after the first 50 at bats of a great career.

          We’ll see which way it goes.

  • cubmig

    The Mike Olt fans are going crazy right now!!!!! …….can’t blame them!!!! Great HR!

  • willis

    Barney popped up? So weird.

    Alright Edwin, here are your runs. Now make it stick…unlike Sunday.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      At least it wasn’t on the first pitch……..small victories :)

  • arta

    RR has to play Lake and Olt to see what we have. platooning shows a sign of a bad team/manager. very seldom does it work. he’s trying to please everyone. the old Yankee’s of 50′s, 60′s had good enough teams to use the platoon system and win. JMO

    • Jason P

      “RR has to play Lake and Olt to see what we have”
      400 at bats is plenty to evaluate a player. Moreover, Kalish and Sweeney are just as likely to have a long term role with team as Lake. “Play them to see what we have” is what fans say when they really mean “This team sucks. I want something to watch.” Not always best for the player long-term.

      “platooning shows a sign of a bad team/manager. very seldom does it work.”
      Two of the best organizations in baseball (Ray’s/A’s), one of which has the best manager in baseball (Joe Madden), platoon heavily. Also, both of those teams are playoff contenders and arguably division favorites.

      “he’s trying to please everyone”
      Evidently not, because the majority of fans are displeased by Olt and Lake not playing.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        I love it when opinion meets reality.

        • half_full_beer_mug

          Well…..like that’s just your opinion man ……… I mean goat

          • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

            You got a good sasperilla?

            • half_full_beer_mug

              Drank enough for two days last night, just water right now.

              • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

                Luckily I’m adhering to a pretty strict, uh, drug regimen to keep my mind limber.

                • Funn Dave

                  Just one question, Dude: d’ya hafta use so many dang swear words?

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      Well if it’s just your opinion then I can’t say how wrong your statement is because taking a JMO means nothing you said has any validity and is just something you are saying. Thanks for the heads up

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        Oh forgot to add JMO

        • DarthHater

          I’m going to start ending all my comments with “JSIPOOMA” (just something I pulled out of my ass).

          JSIPOOMA

  • Funn Dave

    From Gameday:

    That was pitch number 45 for Tony Cingrani; his effectiveness may start slipping, as he holds opposing hitters to a .172 average in the first 45 pitches but they hit .294 off him after that.

    I like the sound of that.

  • cubmig

    wow……..our guys are playing some serious baseball. Wth is going on? Who is responsible for what we’re seein’? Is this a prelude to a five game win streak? It is the Resurrection season…….renewal, Spring, new life, etc…..or is it all a set up for disappointment?

    • half_full_beer_mug

      maybe it’s just a good game

      • cubmig

        Thanks. I needed that…….lol.

    • JasonP

      It could just be part of a baseball season – you know the Occam’s Razor explanation. Good teams get down 3-0, and horrible teams take early leads from time to time, even the worst teams win about 1/3 of their games.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        No, no, no: every team is as good as the 1927 Yankees; teams with TWTW are just consistent about it.

        /sarcasm

        Seriously, Cingrani’s horrid control really helped the Cubs today. Cingrani only walked 4 guys, but he would have walked many more against most lineups, and he seemed to have to take a lot off of his fastball to get the ball where he wanted it. A lot of guys’ blue zones get distinctly purple when that happens.

  • JasonP

    I think we should start a movement to get Brett invited to be the 7th inning stretch singer

    • APPNATION

      didnt they make a new rule that in order to sing the 7th inning stretch you have to be from illinois?

  • cubmig

    I’m afflicted with too much hope, hence my brain toys with any optimism to fall victim to delusion. I shall regain a foothold with reality………

    • JasonP

      Sounds like the standard symptoms associated with the disease of being a Cubs fan.

      The excessive optimism is a necessary weakness to let the disease take hold. Secondary symptoms include defeat, depression, and bouts of anger filled rants driven by a healthy dose of pessimism.

  • Kyle

    As of the end of the 4th inning, Jackson’s xFIP is 4.50 and his ERA is 4.71.

    So we can finally stop arguing about his peripherals vs. results, right? They agree now.

    • JasonP

      A peripheral, that does capture quite a few of the peripherals, but nonetheless a peripheral.

      Where does his FIP sit?

      • Kyle

        Much lower, I would guess, because of his “No HR” magic so far.

  • Medicos

    Haven’t been watching or listening to the game. Can someone give me the highlights of what I missed. Thanks

  • JasonP

    Hell is freezing over.

    Decent start by EJax, and a Barney HR.

  • Beast Mode

    Darwin Barney!!?? Yes

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