Game Twenty-Two: Cubs (10-11) vs. Nationals (11-10)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 188
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (2-0, 2.60/1.08) vs. Luis Atilano (1-0, 1.50/1.17)
Lou Piniella’s crew will look to bounce back and try to reach .500 again today behind Ryan Dempster. The offense and defense must step up in order for the Cubs to win their second series in a row. It will be interesting to see how the Cubs approach Luis Atilano in his second big league start. The Cubs have struggled in the recent past with pitchers like Atilano.
Look for Koyie Hill behind the plate and possibly Xavier Nady in the field. Piniella said earlier in the week he wanted to get Nady some at bats against right-handed pitching. The other lineup question … will Piniella get Tyler Colvin and Chad Tracy in today and possibly give Derrek Lee and Alfonso Soriano a breather?
From the disturbing stat department … John Grabow’s error in the eighth inning on Tuesday night was the 17th error committed by a Cubs pitcher in the first 21 games.
Today begins a string of five day games in a row before a much-needed day off on Monday after 19 in a row … The Cubs number one right-handed starter should be 4-0 on the season but bullpen problems and little run support have cost him two wins. Ryan Dempster has thrown the ball extremely well. Dempster has shown very good command but the biggest difference is the amount of free passes he has issued so far this year. In 27 2/3 innings Dempster has walked only nine while striking out 26 … a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio is key for Dempster’s success.
Ryan Dempster is coming off a win against the Brewers (one run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings with a walk and four strikeouts) and has pitched into the eighth inning in his last two starts.
At Wrigley this year Dempster is 1-0 in two starts with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP.
Today will be Ryan Dempster’s 13th career start against the Nationals/Expos organization. Dempster has never lost (7-0 in 20 games, 12 starts, with two saves and a complete game shutout with a 3.16 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP) to Washington Nationals franchise.
Dempster last faced the Nationals in 2008 … 1-0 in two starts with a 1.88 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP.
Nationals’ Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster
- Adam Dunn – 4-for-11 with a double, a home run and 10 walks
- Cristian Guzman – 2-for-5 with 2 doubles
- Willie Harris – 2-for-4 with a walk
- Adam Kennedy – 2-for-8
- Nyjer Morgan – 0-for-4 with a walk
- Wil Nieves – 0-for-6
- Ivan Rodriguez – 0-for-7 with a walk
- Willy Taveras – 1-for-7
- Josh Willingham – 1-for-4 with a double and 2 walks
- Ryan Zimmerman – 5-for-10 with a walk
The Cubs will get their first look at Luis Atilano. The soon-to-be 25-year old right-hander (May 10, 1985) beat the Dodgers in his first big league start on April 23. Atilano held the Dodgers to one run on five hits in six innings with two walks and a strikeout.
The Cubs must make the rookie work … especially early on. Today will be his second Major League start and appearance.
Baseball America ranked Luis Atilano the 20th best prospect in the Nationals’ organization prior to this season. The Braves picked Atilano in the supplemental round of the 2003 draft (35th overall pick) but traded him to the Nationals for Daryle Ward in 2006.
Atilano throws a heavy sinker in the 89-92 range and possesses an above average changeup.
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …