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wrigley field from right bleachersThree games in a row. First series win. Great debut for Jake Arrieta.

That’s all on the line today, and it just so happens to be against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. It’s hard to call a game in May a “big” one, especially when the team is 10-17 and doesn’t figure to be a playoff contender anyway, but this is probably about as “big” as games will get for the Cubs for now.

Arrieta was slowed by a stiff shoulder in Spring Training, so the Cubs took it easy with the talented righty. Arrieta has always had the stuff to be a front of the rotation starter, but hasn’t put it all together (mostly, it’s been a command issue). At 28, he’s young enough to be part of the Cubs’ rotation going forward for several years, but, if it’s going to happen, it’s probably got to click for him this year. (He could always fall back on a bullpen role, but that’s a discussion for another day – hopefully one that never comes).

Arrieta is opposed by young Cardinals stud Michael Wacha, who was quickly churned out of the Cardinals’ pitching factory after being a mid-first-round pick in 2012.

The Ryan Sweeney injury is probably going to result in more starts for Junior Lake (because outfield) and Mike Olt (because Bonifacio will be a regular in center, leaving a second base platoon role for Valbuena, leaving third base for Olt). They are hitting at the bottom of the order, though, with Olt all the way down at 8th.

Game Info

St. Louis Cardinals (15-15) at Chicago Cubs (10-17), 12:05 CT on CSN, FS1.

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

Michael Wacha (2.48 ERA, 2.58 FIP, 2.78 xFIP; 4.40 K/BB)

versus

Jake Arrieta (Season Debut)

St. Louis Cardinals Lineup

1. Matt Carpenter, 3B

2. Allen Craig, RF

3. Matt Holliday, LF

4. Matt Adams, 1B

5. Yadier Molina, C

6. Jhonny Peralta, SS

7. Jon Jay, CF

8. Greg Garcia, 2B

9. Michael Wacha, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, CF

2. Luis Valbuena, 2B

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Starlin Castro, SS

5. Nate Schierholtz, RF

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Junior Lake, LF

8. Mike Olt, 3B

9. Jake Arrieta, P

  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    It would really be nice if Olt could just be a little better. It’s unfortunate that he’s down there in the 8th spot (symbolically).

  • http://BN Sacko

    Need something out of Olt and Lake today..for a change. Just what they are capable of..And they are capable.

  • cubbiehawkeye

    I’m not ready to give up on Olt just yet but I think he needs some AAA time….maybe (hopefully) he proves me wrong today.

    • bazfan1234

      Olt has tremedous power but he needs to refine his approach at the plate. He is always in pitcher counts. Hopefully more plate appearances will help him out.

      • Kyle

        He is always in pitchers counts because pitchers know they can throw him strikes because he can’t hit anything.

        • cubmig

          I’m beginning to agree with that Kyle…….I had hoped he’d find his groove, but so far…. nada. I wonder if Bill Mueller is mentoring him.

          • gocatsgo2003

            Nah. I’m sure the hitting coach is ignoring one of the guys for whom development is paramount.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I hope Arrieta has command of his pitches today. Walking batters is suicidal with this Cardinals team. I think the month of May will be critical for Olt if he wants to stay with the big league club. If June comes and he is still hitting under .200 he will probably be sent down.

  • Medicos

    Arrieta excellent location of pitches. Good tight rotation on his pitches. Little contact by the Cardinal hitters. Handled Molina with ease. Looks like an MLB pitcher.

  • willis

    Arrieta looked pretty nasty in that inning. They couldn’t catch up to his heat and he had a couple filthy breaking pitches. Threw 18 pitches I think.

  • cubmig

    Damn good pitching by Arrieta after that Lake misread………

  • Jason P

    Arrieta looks electric today. It’s a shame Lake wasn’t moved into the outfield further down in the Cubs system. You can tell his reads are still not where they need to be.

    • willis

      They’re definitely not. He makes up for it a lot with his speed but sometimes they’re so bad even his wheels can’t make up for it.

  • Funn Dave

    Uh-oh….Arrietta doesn’t seem to know where his sinker’s going….Or his curveball, on that last one.

  • cubs2015

    Regardless how this game turns out I’m happy to see Arrietas stuff looks good and he looks healthy. I wish Castillo wouldn’t quite set up so far on outside pitches, makes Arrietas nibble more than he already does

    • half_full_beer_mug

      I wish Castillo wouldn’t quite set up so far on inside or outside pitches in general.

  • cubmig

    Castro with a fine over the shoulder to save that inning for Arrieta……….beautifully done.

  • Illini Cubbie Fan

    Has anyone else seen that Tulo’s OBP is .487 (!!!!!)

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Arrieta needs to just challenge the hitters. He’s trying to be too fine and this umpire isn’t giving the borderline calls.

  • willis

    This Lake Vs. Wacha at bat should be entertaining. Or…something.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      decent outcome

      • willis

        Ha, after those first two hacks where he damn near fell down, I was shocked he made contact.

        Olt on the other hand, woof.

        • KHRSS

          Lake has had about 8 or 9 at bats vs wacha but he was/is hitting around .650 against him.

  • Jon

    lOlt

    • half_full_beer_mug

      !Olt?

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Wacha is dominant today. Arrieta had better be more efficient or else we are going to be into the bullpen early.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      Not sure that’s what I’d call it from watching the game. Efficient, yes.

    • Jon

      CubFanPaul told me Wacha only has 2 pitches and was going to fall apart this year

      • half_full_beer_mug

        I’d say he’s got two really good pitches and one that’s average. What he does really well is throw strikes and pitch to contact. i do think his numbers won’t be as good as last year since the hitters will have more of a “book” on him. I don’t see him falling apart any time soon, voodoo magic or not.

  • cubmig

    Cold Olt. He’s on the verge. Of what?—–don’t-know.

  • fromthemitten

    I know a lot of people named “Matt” who are assholes for some reason, makes sense three of them are in the Cardinals lineup.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I read where B.J. Upton is wearing glasses for the first time in his career. I guess so far only in batting practice. I have to wonder how well Olt is seeing the ball. If he was fouling off a lot of pitches I would think that it was just timing, but with all of that swing and miss I wonder if he is seeing the ball well.

    • half_full_beer_mug

      I think he’s just got contact issues, and the pitchers are exploiting it.

      • Funn Dave

        Yup. The vision problems are over.

    • Blackhawks1963

      He sucks. He can’t make sufficient contact, hence why the Rangers were willing to make him a throw in to the Garza deal. He’s the 3rd base version of Brett Jackson.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Lake and Olt are terrible. People can rip the journeyman on this roster all they want, but I’ve seen enough of Lake and Olt. Major league pitchers eat both these guys alive.

  • KHRSS

    I never understood the high hopes fans had for Olt, it was the same with Stewart.

  • willis

    Wow, nasty pitch there to end the inning. I’m happy with his stuff so far. He’s got a lot of life on that fastball today.

  • KHRSS

    Rizzo should try to bunt here against the shift.

  • Soda Popinski

    Atta boy Castro! Missed it by that much…

  • Jon

    Damn it he just missed a HR !

  • KHRSS

    Castro off the wall!

  • Jon

    JD is bitching about Castro not running hard. STFU dude

    • cubbiehawkeye

      Agree ^^

    • half_full_beer_mug

      What was said? I’m having to watch it on FS1

      • cubbiehawkeye

        JD just went on a mini rant about how Starlin was watching the ball as a homer and when the ball has the ability to bounce off a brick wall he should move a little faster to avoid any close play at second. It was just a dumb thing to rant about given the situation. IMO

  • cubmig

    HIT IT OUT BEEF!!!!!

  • cubmig

    ……..shit…….

  • Diehardthefirst

    Arietta impressive but is blister forming?

    • gocatsgo2003

      What?

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