Game Forty-Three: Cubs (15-27) vs. Astros (19-23)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184/914
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston
Travis Wood (0-0, 4.50/1.00) vs. J.A. Happ (3-3, 4.96/1.52)
The Cubs will try to put the last seven games behind them tonight and end their longest drought of the year behind Travis Wood. Wood has been with the team for several days and will be activated prior to game time. The Cubs must make a roster move to clear a spot for Wood to make his second big league start of the season.
According to reports, Blake Parker could either be optioned back to Iowa or placed on the disabled list to make room for Wood or the Cubs could place Welington Castillo on the DL with an MCL sprain. Another option, not brought up by the mainstream media, would be to send Randy Wells back to Iowa. After tossing five innings on Monday night, Wells figures to be unavailable for the next five days. That would give them time to make a decision on both Blake Parker and/or Welington Castillo. Wells could always be recalled to fill Parker or Castillo’s spot on the roster if either one has to be placed on the DL.
After Monday night’s loss, Dale Sveum mentioned that Bryan LaHair would probably be given Tuesday night off. LaHair is 1-for-his-last-20 and Sveum said he could use a “mental day off.” With Houston sending a southpaw to the hill it would be the right time to give him a break … but Sveum should mix his lineup tonight and not use an all right-handed lineup against the Astros’ lefty.
Tonight is all starts with Travis Wood … Travis Wood will make his second start of the season. With the way Chris Volstad did not perform this year, Wood figures to remain in the Cubs’ rotation … it is pretty much his spot to lose. The Cubs need him to step up and pitch the way he did for the Reds in 2010 (5-4 in 17 starts with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP).
Wood’s last big league start came against the Dodgers on May 6 at Wrigley. Wood was called up to fill in for Matt Garza. Wood put together a quality start and allowed three runs on three hits in six innings. Wood walked three, served up a homer and struck out four.
Travis Wood posted a 3-3 record in seven starts for the I-Cubs with a 4.57 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP … in his last two Triple-A starts, Wood posted a 2-0 record with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP.
Tonight will be Travis Wood’s six career start against Houston. Wood owns a 1-1 record in the first five with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP … last season, 1-0 in three starts with a 1.02 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Wood is 1-1 in three starts at Minute Maid with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP.
Astros Career Numbers against Travis Wood
- Jose Altuve – 0-for-2
- Matt Downs – 2-for-2 with a walk
- J.A. Happ – 0-for-2
- Chris Johnson – 2-for-10 with a double
- Carlos Lee – 2-for-10 with a walk
- J.D. Martinez – 1-for-2
J.A. Happ is coming off a very good outing against the Brewers. The southpaw tossed six innings of shutout ball in Houston and surrendered seven hits and a walk while striking out four. In his last four starts, Happ is 2-2 with a 5.24 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP.
Happ has pitched much better at home this season (3-2 in five starts with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.57 WHIP) than on the road (0-1 in three starts with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP).
The key to beating J.A. Happ is patience. The Cubs must make him work and Dale Sveum must mix in his lefties and not use an all right-handed lineup. Southpaws are hitting .302 against Happ this season with a .333 OBP (.726 OPS) while righties are hitting .275 with a .348 OBP (.778 OPS).
J.A. Happ is 0-1 in two career starts against the Cubs with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.67 WHIP. Happ did not face the Cubs last season.
Cubs Career Numbers against J.A. Happ
- Jeff Baker – 3-for-5 with a walk
- Starlin Castro – 2-for-2 with a double and a walk
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-2 with a double
- Reed Johnson – 0-for-2
- Alfonso Soriano – 1-for-3 with a double and a walk
- Ian Stewart – 1-for-2
- Travis Wood – 0-for-1
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …
The fine folks at Stadium Journey have published their fourth magazine that features Wrigley Field. The publishers have asked the CCO to pass on information on how the issued can be purchased to our readers. For those interested, click on this link to Stadium Journey.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO