Editors Note: As of this afternoon, David DeJesus will be switching locker rooms, as the Nats traded a player to be named later for him while releasing Roger Bernadina. I’ve deleted any references to him as a Cub, but he is not included in the tables as trying to fix those manually on short notice is, frankly, a pain in the ass. -TL
The NL Central is the best
division in baseball and anyone who disagrees is flat out wrong. The Cubs could
blame their 53-70 record on their division, but they are plain bad. Since they
shipped Alfonzo Soriano to New York he has flourished and they have gotten
worst. In their last ten games they are 3-7 with little signs of life. They are
sitting last in the division, which is saying a lot because Milwaukee’s
rotation is pretty much filled with fans they asked to help out, oh, and Tom
The Nationals are 6-4 over
their last ten games and sitting three games under .500. They are 9.5 games
behind Cincinnati for the second Wild Card spot and would have to hope that
both the Reds and Diamondback start to tank, while their offense becomes
baseball murderers, but it is not impossible. It appears that Jayson Werth is
taking it upon himself to try and push the Nationals to the playoffs. He is
hitting .334 and having more multi-hit games than I can count. He had a spectacular
July and is aiming to have an even better August, which is almost
Lastly, I have to give a shout
out to my brother Ross and my Dad because they will be at the game on Thursday.
My Dad is a diehard Cubs fan and plans to cheer against the Nationals while
crushing some Old Style beer at Wrigley, which tastes just a little bit worse
than warm PBR.
Game 1: Monday, August 19, Wrigley
Field 8:05pm, Jeff Samardzija (6-11, 4.29 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (14-6, 3.02
The Cubs are hoping that Jeff
Samardzija is going to be their ace for years to come and he has definitely shown
flashes of brilliance. The front office is hoping to build a rotation and team
around him, but he has struggles as of late. Last week, the Reds smacked him
around, where he gave up four runs off of six hits and four walks. Personally,
I think it is difficult for anyone to succeed at anything when you look like
you drive an old van and offer candy to kids, but that does not discourage
Samardzija from looking like, well, you get the picture.
Samardzija throws a fastball (94-97
mph), slider (82-85 mph), cutter (90-93 mph) and splitter (85-87 mph). He keeps
balls low in the zone has an explosive delivery that very often leads batters
to have awkward swings at his offerings when he is throwing his good stuff. He
will throw all four of his pitches to right-handed batters, but he will not
throw his cutter to lefties. He goes to his splitter, more often than not, when
he has two strikes on a batter. It is important to note that Samardzija
struggles when his pitch count creeps up, which could be good for the Nats
because both Rendon and Werth like to take a lot of pitches.
The Nats faced Samardzija on
May 10 where he went five innings and gave up seven earned runs. Over his career
he has a 1-2 record and 2.76 ERA in three starts and 10 appearances. Both Ian
Desmond and Adam LaRoche have performed well against Samardzija in the past.
Desmond has a 1.692 OPS and three doubles. LaRoche has two home runs and a .364
Current Nationals vs. Jeff
Jordan Zimmermann is the only
National that has a chance of winning 20 games this season. Gio did it last
year and made it look easy, but since Jordan barely gets any run support or
because the bullpen have squandered away his lead when he leaves the game he is
behind the pace, so he pretty much has to run the table. He is going for his NL
leading 15th win against the Cubs. In his last outing against the
Giants he went seven innings and only allowed one run. Since struggling
immediately following the All-Star break he has come back to form in August,
going 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA.
Jordan has never won a game at
Wrigley Field, he is 0-2 with a 2.39 ERA, but since it is pretty much driving
distance from Auburndale, Wisconsin, maybe he will get a bump if his parents
come down for the game. He did not face the Cubs earlier this season when they
came to Nationals Park, so this is his first start against them since last
year. In 32 IP he has a 4.22 ERA and a 1-3 record all time against the Cubbies.
Anthony Rizzo is the only Cub to do any real damage against Zimmermann. Rizzo
has a 1.500 OPS and a homer in six career plate appearances.
Current Cubs vs. Jordan
Game 2: Tuesday, August 20, Wrigley
Field 8:05pm, Chris Rusin (2-2, 3.06 ERA) vs. Dan Haren (7-11, 4.79 ERA)
Chris Rusin has not been in
the big leagues very long, but he is trying to make his mark on the MLB with
the fledgling Cubs and has been doing a respectable job. Rusin appeared in
seven games last year for the Cubs, but started the year off in AAA. He was
called up for the second time in his career on July 2. Some analysts contend
that he was cheated out of a rotation spot at the end of Spring Training
because he pitched good enough for the fourth or fifth spot, but for whatever
reason was relegated to the minors/
Rusin throws four pitches on a
regular basis: fastball (87-90 mph), cutter (84-87 mph), curveball (78-79 mph)
and changeup (79-81 mph). None of his pitches will blow you away, but he has
pretty good command and can really hurt teams on the corners of the plate. He
is especially tough on left-handed hitters, but on the other hand, righties
seem to see his stuff well.
Even though Rusin has not
appeared in a lot of Major League games he has faced the Nationals before.
Sadly for him, he faced them when they were on a tear last fall. In his only
appearance against the Nats he lasted one inning and gave up five earned runs,
two of which were homers to Jesus Flores and Ian Desmond. His ERA against the
Nationals is sitting at 45.0. Desmond, Werth and LaRoche all have a batting
average of 1.000 against him. However, since the same size is so small that
means next to nothing, but hopefully they will light him up.
Current Nationals vs. Chris
Maybe it is the Catholic guilt
or maybe it is that Dan Haren has been so consistent lately, but I am going to
internet apologize to him again for all the nasty stuff I said over the course
of the season. I am sorry Dan, you are the man at the moment. Since the
All-Star break you have a 2.30 ERA and have kept the call down in the zone.
Your splitter looks awesome and even though its velocity is down it has helped
you mix it up and make your cutter look crisper. I know that there is little
chance that you will be back next year, but solid second half of the season
Call me crazy, but I am
predicting that Dan Haren will have a winning record when this season is over.
I know the offense will have to help him out and he will have to keep doing
what he has been doing since the All-Star break, but I think it is going to
happen. I also think his ERA will end up below 4.00. That one is a longer shot,
but Haren has been fun to watch and looks good. He is 3-0 in his last four
starts with a 1.33 ERA.
Haren has faced off against
the Cubs five times in his career. He is 1-2 in those five starts with a 5.58
ERA over the course of 30.2 innings. His WHIP is a little concerning, with it
sitting at 1.370, but all the Cubs he has faced in the past are long gone. He
has not started against them since 2010 and since then they have sold off their
roster two times over, at least.
Current Cubs vs. Dan Haren:
Game 3: Wednesday, August 21,
Wrigley Field 8:05pm, Jake Arrieta (2-2, 4.91 ERA) vs. Ross Ohlendorf (2-0, 1.85
Jake Arrieta’s name should be
familiar to baseball fans on the DC/Baltimore area because until the beginning
of July he was an Oriole. On July 2, he was traded with Pedro Strop to the Cubs
for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger. In his last outing against the Cardinals
he pitched seven shutout innings, but for every time he looks like he is going
to have a breakout performance he usually follows it up with a stinker.
Arrieta throws four pitches:
fastball (93-95 mph), curveball (79-82 mph), slider (88-90 mph), and changeup (85-87).
His curveball is his best pitch. It has a good 11-5 movement that baffles
batters and his slider is also a plus pitch. He has the kind of stuff that
allows him to work up in the zone, but due to his lack of consistency he can
get burned from it. However, if he can learn to be reliable on a regular basis
he could be a top of the rotation guy for years to come.
Current Nationals vs. Jake
Personally, I am a little
worried about Ross Ohlendorf., since out dueling Matt Harvey he has thrown 11
pitched against the Tigers and been on the disabled list. In his relief
appearance against the Tigers his velocity was way down and he had not
recovered from the Harvey outing. Since then, the Nationals have shutdown
Taylor Jordan, who has done a great job for how young he is and for never
pitching above AA, and they need someone for the rotation.
Ohlendorf has made two rehab
appearances over the past week. The first appearance came last Saturday in
Syracuse where he pitched three innings and gave up one run. I was at that game
and he looked good. Also, unrelated to everything, Danny Espinosa threw me a
baseball, which was kind of cool. His second rehab start was with Potomac a
couple days ago, where he went four innings and gave up three earned runs. He
took a comebacker in the foot, but all reports are that it did not hurt him.
Here is hoping that he is coming back ready to roll the rest of the season and
that his 1.85 ERA will continue and not evaporate.
Ross Ohlendorf loves the Cubs.
He has never played for them, but he loves them because he has had their number
in the past. In six starts he has a 2-0 record and a 2.75 ERA over 36 innings.
He has only allowed one homer and has induced a ton of ground balls/ The only
player in their lineup that might pose a problem for him is Darwin Barney, who
in nine plate appearances has a .375 BA and two RBIs.
Current Cubs vs. Ross
Game 4: Thursday, August 22, Wrigley
Field 2:20pm, Travis Wood (7-10, 3.13 ERA) vs. Stephen Strasburg (6-9, 2.93
Travis Wood is a little guy.
Now we are not talking dwarfism, but for a pitcher he is teeny tiny. He only
stands 5’11” and weighs 165 pounds, but is much smaller than almost every
pitcher in the league with the exception of Tim Lincecum. He has a pretty solid
ERA, which is currently sitting at 3.13, but he lives on the wild side. He has
a very high fly ball to ground ball ratio, so it is a little deceiving. His
defense has kept him in games, not his pitching ability. Wood is regularly
ranked toward the top of pitchers who’s out of strike zone offerings get
crushed by batters, which is never a good thing.
He throws three pitches:
fastball (85-91 mph), changeup (77-79 mph) and cutter (84-87 mph). Wood does
not blow batters away by any means, but he has good control. He learned his
cutter from Cliff Lee, who he trains with in the off-season, and Nats fans know
how good Lee is at throwing the cutter. He mainly throws lefties mainly cutters
and fastballs. Wood prefers to throw righties a lot more changeups.
Wood has never faced the
Washington Nationals before, but he has seen Scott Hairston, Adam LaRoche and
Jayson Werth before and all of them have not performed well. LaRoche is the
only one of the three players to have a hit against Wood. Hairston is 0-6 and
Werth is 0-5. However, since Werth seems to not be able to miss balls thrown in
his direction, I imagine his batting average will be much higher against Mr.
Wood after the game.
Current Nationals vs. Travis
To say that Stephen Strasburg
had an eventful start against the Atlanta Braves the last time out would be
putting it lightly. Strasburg got tossed from the game after one inning for
throwing three wild pitched in a row. For those of you living under a rock,
Strasburg hit Justin Upton with a pitch in the first inning (some would argue
in retaliation for Bryce getting tossed at almost every other at bat against
the Braves) and after a long half inning on the bench he came out wild. Davey
came out to protest that the wild pitches were not intentional and he was
thrown out, as well.
Some people might look out
Strasburg’s season and say it did not live up to expectations one year after
the infamous shutdown, but other than his 6-9 record it has been a resounding
success. Strasburg is sporting an ERA south of three and he has the NL-worst
2.9 runs per game of offensive support, his ERA is lower than last season, has
given up fewer walks and homers. It is true that his strikeout percentage is
down to 26.2 percent from 30.2 percent last year, but he has also had better
defensive support of a .266 batting average for balls in play compared to .316
last season. I will never knock what Jordan Zimmermann had done this season, he
has been the rock of the rotation, but if Strasburg and Gio would have received
his 4.4 runs per game in offensive support the Nationals would have three
pitchers flirting with a 20 game winning season instead of one. Oh, and they
would probably be close to leading the division…
Strasburg was bitten by a poor
defensive effort when he faced the Cubs earlier in the season. He lasted five
innings and struck out seven, while giving up no earned runs. However, while he
was on the mound the Cubs scored four runs and he was credited with the loss.
Over his career, he has a 0-1 record in two starts and a 0.75 ERA. In 12 innings
he has given up one earned run and struck out twelve, while walking only three.
The current Cubs roster has a .296 batting average against him.
Current Cubs vs. Stephen
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