Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Reds – 07/25/09

Game Ninety-Five: Cubs (49-45) vs. Reds (44-51)
Game Time – 12:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Kevin Hart (1-1, 2.30/1.72) vs. Johnny Cueto (8-6, 3.67/1.27)

Updated 9:23am C.T. – Ted Lilly placed on the 15-day DL – Justin Berg Recalled from Triple-A Iowa

The Cubs will try for their third win in a row this afternoon behind Kevin Hart. The offense has stepped up in the last two games and will have a much tougher task this afternoon against Johnny Cueto.

Lou Piniella’s frustration could be heard in his post-game press conference on Friday. Not with the way the Cubs played but with all of the injuries he is dealing with this season. The Cubs have played with their projected lineup on the field just twice this season and as Piniella put it, it seems every time one player is getting ready to return another one gets injured.

Ted Lilly is expected to be placed on the DL before today’s game. He was scheduled to start but was scratched with shoulder soreness on Friday. Reports then surfaced Lilly would likely be lost for a couple of weeks with tendonitis in his shoulder, something he dealt with during his days in Toronto. According to Bruce Levine, Lilly might elect to have his knee scoped while resting his shoulder, which would require at least a three-week stint on the disabled list.

The Cubs are looking to activate Ryan Dempster from the DL a day or two early on Tuesday to make the start against the Astros … and the timeframe on Geovany Soto’s return appears to be the first week in August.

The outcome of this afternoon’s contest between the Cubs and Reds hinges on Kevin Hart’s ability to throw strikes. While the offense must do their job, it all begins with Kevin Hart … and one win at a time.

With the injury to Ted Lilly it appears Kevin Hart will be in the Cubs’ rotation for the foreseeable future … and he must learn how to throw strikes. Hart has been effective at chewing up 10 innings while subbing for Ryan Dempster but his 10 walks in two starts (10 innings) will not cut it. Hart has walked 15 batters total in 15 2/3 innings at the big league level and all of the free passes will catch up to him.

Kevin Hart has the stuff to be successful at the Major League level. Even during his ‘walk-parade‘ in his last two outings he has shown that much. Hart’s biggest problem is when he gets into trouble he starts nibbling around the plate instead of attacking the hitters. Walks will punch his return to Iowa faster than getting beat by the other team.

It is time for Kevin Hart to take advantage of the opportunity he has been given.

Hart is coming off his first win of the year, and his third career big league victory. Hart benefited from the Cubs plating seven runs in the fourth inning … he allowed two runs on five hits in five innings with five walks and one strikeout.

Today will be Kevin Hart’s first career start against the Reds. He has faced them three times out of the pen … 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP (two runs on five hits in five innings with a walk, a home run allowed and four strikeouts).

  • Chris Dickerson – 0-for-1
  • Edwin Encarnacion – 1-for-2
  • Ryan Hanigan – 1-for-1
  • Brandon Phillips – 0-for-1
  • Joey Votto – 0-for-1

The Cubs will get their second look of the year at one of the best young arms in the National League. Johnny Cueto shutout the Cubs and Ted Lilly on April 22 at Wrigley. Cueto allowed just four hits, no walks and struck out three in a truly dominating performance … and he earned his first win of the year.

Cueto is coming off a no decision to the Brewers. After allowing three runs in the first three innings he settled down and completed six in the Reds 5-3 victory. Cueto gave up the three runs on 10 hits (tied a season-high) with a walk and five strikeouts.

Like Aaron Harang, Cueto has struggled of late. After a dominating April (1-1 in four starts with a 2.19 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP) and May (3-2 in six starts with a 2.72 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP) he came back down to earth, just a little, in June (3-1 in five starts with a 3.60 ERA and a 1.37 WHIPP) … and in July he has been rocked.

All of the innings could be wearing on the right-hander. Cueto tossed 174 innings in his rookie campaign a year ago and has already thrown 115 1/3 this season. Cueto is 1-2 in his last four starts with an 8.15 ERA and a 1.98 WHIP … teams are hitting .342 against him after hitting just .195 in May.

Johnny Cueto has been very good in a short amount of time against the Cubs. He is 2-3 in five career starts with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP … at Wrigley, 1-2 in three career starts with an impressive 2.18 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. In 32 career innings against the Cubs, Cueto has issued just seven walks to go along with 26 strikeouts.

For some reason the Cubs have been very aggressive in the past against Johnny Cueto and simply do not make him work. The Cubs must employ a different game plan this afternoon … or history will continue to repeat itself.

  • Milton Bradley – 0-for-3
  • Mike Fontenot – 0-for-4
  • Kosuke Fukudome – 3-for-12 with a double and a walk
  • Micah Hoffpauir – 0-for-3
  • Reed Johnson – 2-for-5
  • Derrek Lee – 6-for-15 with 2 doubles and a walk
  • Aramis Ramirez – 2-for-9 with a home run and a walk
  • Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-12 with 2 home runs
  • Ryan Theriot – 7-for-16 with 2 doubles

Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….

Updated – 9:23am C.T. – According to a report from Bruce Levine on ESPN 1000, Ted Lilly will be placed on the DL with shoulder tendonitis. The MRI did not show any significant damage in his shoulder. Lilly is also considering having his knee scoped as reports on Friday indicated. Lilly could miss as much as three weeks with a conservative return time of mid-August.

Justin Berg is on the Cubs 40-man roster, so another move will not be required. The right-hander had a decent spring with the big league club but has not pitched at the Major League level. Berg was 4-1 in 24 games out of the I-Cubs pen with a 2.00 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP … 19 walks and 20 strikeouts in 36 innings (10 runs, eight earned, on 28 hits). Berg will likely be the odd-man out once Ryan Dempster is ready to return on Tuesday.

In his last 10 games, Justin Berg is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP (12 walks, eight strikeouts, 11 hits in 17 1/3 innings)

Updated 9:47am C.T.Bruce Levine reported Ted Lilly will have his left knee scoped on Monday which means the earliest Lilly will return is August 15.

Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein