Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Nationals – 04/05/12

Game One – Opening Day: Cubs (0-0) vs. Nationals (0-0)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 185/903
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Ryan Dempster (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Stephen Strasburg (0-0, -.–/-.–)

Updated 12:52pm CDTJohn Gaub claimed off waivers by the Tampa Bay Rays. Cubs selected Blake DeWitt’s contract from Triple-A Iowa and added to 40-man roster. Tony Campana optioned to Triple-A Iowa. Cubs 40-man roster stands at 40 players.

Chicago Cubs Baseball is on the Air! Spring Training is over…It’s Opening Day.

A new era officially begins for the Chicago Cubs today after an off-season full of change in the front office, coaching staff and on field personnel. It is finally time to play a baseball game at Wrigley Field.

Dale Sveum will call the shots for the first time as a big league manager on Opening Day. Sveum ran a very good camp but that was then. Every pitch and every inning counts beginning today and Sveum is now in charge of turning a team around that has played bad baseball for a majority of the last three seasons.

Starlin Castro begins his third big league season this afternoon and for the third time in as many years he will play for a different manager. Dale Sveum saw a lot of progress out of Castro during the spring and the Cubs will ask a lot out of the 22-year old shortstop this season.

Starlin Castro ended the 2011 season with an 11-game hitting streak and he finished his first full season at the Major League level reaching base safely in each of his last 40 games.

Many are picking the Washington Nationals to make the playoffs this season on the strength of their rotation and the young corps of position players. The holdovers from the previous regime will see a lot of familiar faces in the visitor’s dugout throughout the weekend. Several former Cubs made the Nationals Opening Day roster … Mark DeRosa, Tom Gorzelanny, Chad Tracy and Xavier Nady.

The 2012 season all starts with Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster is coming off a bad season in which he posted a 10-14 record in 34 starts with a 4.80 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Dempster had a horrible April and never recovered.

Dempster has said of late that it is very important to him and his team to begin the season on a positive note. The key to watch in regards to Ryan Dempster is his strikeout to walk ratio. When Dempster maintains a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio he usually puts his team in position to win the game.

Ryan Dempster will take the hill at Wrigley on Opening Day for the second year in a row.

Ryan Dempster is 9-1 in 23 career games, 15 starts, against the Nationals/Expos franchise with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP … last year, Dempster beat the Nationals the only time he faced them and put together one of his better starts of the season (one run, on three hits with two walks and six strikeouts).

Nationals Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Roger Bernadina – 1-for-6
  • Mark DeRosa – 0-for-3
  • Ian Desmond – 0-for-7 with a walk
  • Danny Espinosa – 1-for-2 with a walk
  • Jesus Flores – 0-for-3
  • Adam LaRoche – 3-for-13 with a home run and two walks
  • Xavier Nady – 5-for-13 with two home runs
  • Wilson Ramos – 1-for-2
  • Chad Tracy – 6-for-10 with three doubles, a home run and a walk
  • Jayson Werth – 2-for-12 with two doubles and two walks
  • Ryan Zimmerman – 6-for-16 with a home run and a walk

The Cubs are not sure if Bryan LaHair will be available this afternoon after missing the last six days with a back injury. There is a 50-50 chance that LaHair will be at first base this afternoon and if not the Cubs have three options to choose from … Joe Mather, Jeff Baker or Blake DeWitt. There is still a possibility that LaHair could be placed on the DL and Tony Campana would take his spot on the active roster.

If LaHair can go, Dale Sveum is expected to run out the following lineup:

  • David DeJesus – RF
  • Darwin Barney – 2B
  • Starlin Castro – SS
  • Bryan LaHair – 1B
  • Alfonso Soriano – LF
  • Ian Stewart – 3B
  • Marlon Byrd – CF
  • Geovany Soto – C
  • Ryan Dempster – P

Stephen Strasburg spent a majority of last season on the DL after undergoing Tommy John Surgery. Strasburg made just five starts but was dominant as expected. Strasburg posted a 1-1 record with a 1.50 ERA and a 0.71 WHIP … in 24 innings, Strasburg struck out 24 and walked only two.

Stephen Strasburg is simply the best young pitcher in the game.

Today marks the first time in his brief time in the majors that he will face the Chicago Cubs and only two Cubs on the Opening Day roster has faced the phenom. David DeJesus (2-for-3) and Luis Valbuena (0-for-2) are the lone position players with limited at bats against Stephen Strasburg.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver