Game Sixty-Three: Cubs (21-41) vs. Tigers (29-33)
Game Time – 1:20pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 187/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Travis Wood (0-2, 4.71/1.19) vs. Justin Verlander (5-4, 2.69/1.00)
The Cubs complete the three-game series with the Detroit Tigers this afternoon and they will have to figure out arguably the best pitcher in the game in order to post back-to-back series wins at Wrigley. Jim Leyland is sending the reigning AL MVP and AL Cy Young Award winner to the hill this afternoon. Justin Verlander has been called the Nolan Ryan of his generation and the Cubs will get to see him for the first time in nearly six years.
The Cubs are expected to place Ian Stewart on the 15-day DL prior to this afternoon’s game. Stewart is dealing with a sore left wrist, the same one he injured back in 2006 and has caused him problems ever since. Stewart was scratched just prior to Wednesday’s game and during his post-game press conference Dale Sveum said Stewart would be placed on the DL.
Reports suggested Luis Valbuena could be called up and replace Stewart on the active roster, not Josh Vitters. The Cubs will have to make another roster move in order to add Valbuena to the 40-man roster. The Cubs’ big league roster currently stands at 40 players.
Updated 10:39am CDT – The Cubs made a flurry of roster moves on Thursday morning. The Cubs placed Ian Stewart on the 15-day DL with a wrist injury. Stewart is scheduled to see a wrist specialist. The Cubs think Stewart may have nerve damage. The Cubs purchased the contract of Luis Valbuena from Triple-A Iowa, added him to the 40-man roster and called him up from Iowa. To make room of the 40-man roster, Koyie Hill was designated for assignment. Welington Castillo was activated from the 15-day DL. Castillo was not expected back this soon but the injury to Stewart and subsequent roster moves changed his timeframe. Geovany Soto could return from the DL as soon as Monday for the opener against the White Sox.
Today it all begins with Travis Wood … Travis Wood is coming off a short outing against the Twins. Wood was in line for his first win as a Cub but the bullpen could not hold the lead. Wood allowed three runs on six hits with three walks and three strikeouts in five innings. Wood struggled with his command, ran up his pitch count and had to depart before Dale Sveum would have liked.
Wood has been solid in four of his five starts for the Cubs this season. Wood has no record in two starts at Wrigley with a 7.36 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP. Wood has to be at his best this afternoon in order to give his team a chance to win.
After posting a 0-1 record in his first three starts (5.94 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP), Travis Wood is 0-1 in his last two with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
Travis Wood has not faced the Tigers in his short career … and Prince Fielder (4-for-10 with four walks) is the only player on the Tigers’ active roster that has faced Wood.
The Cubs have struggled mightily this season against pitchers that are nowhere as good as Justin Verlander. Verlander has not posted a win since May 18 but other than one uncharacteristic outing against the Red Sox, Verlander has done his job.
Justin Verlander is 0-1 in his last two starts with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.78 WHIP after posting a 3-2 record in his previous six outings with a 2.66 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.
For as good as Verlander has been he is just 3-2 in seven road starts this season with a 3.56 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP.
Justin Verlander is 1-0 in his only start against the Cubs (one run on nine hits with three walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings). Verlander and the Tigers topped the Cubs 9-3 at Wrigley Field nearly six years ago to the day (June 17, 2006).
Jeff Baker (0-for-2 with a walk), David DeJesus (14-for-46 with four doubles and five walks) and Carlos Marmol (0-for-2) are the only Cubs on the active roster that has faced Justin Verlander.
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