Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Mets – 07/08/12

Game Eighty-Five: Cubs (32-52) vs. Mets (46-39)
Game Time – 12:10pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 184/914
Location – Citi Field, Flushing

Ryan Dempster (3-3, 2.11/1.02) vs. Jon Niese (7-3, 3.35/1.22)

Ryan Dempster Activated from 15-Day DLChris Volstad Optioned to Triple-A Iowa

It is the final game before the break for the Chicago Cubs … and with a victory today Dale Sveum’s team would not only finish the first half with their first winning road trip of the season but with a winning record against the Metropolitans for the year (3-2 in first five).

Ryan Dempster, and not Chris Volstad, will take the hill this afternoon. Chris Volstad was scheduled to make his second straight start today but after Wednesday’s bullpen session, Dempster said he was ready to return. Dempster will be on a pitch count (70-80) this afternoon after spending the majority of the last month on the DL (June 15). With the four-day break on the horizon, Sveum will have his entire bullpen to choose from once Dempster hits his limit this afternoon. Chris Volstad is expected to be optioned down to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster for Ryan Dempster.

Anthony Rizzo has not disappointed over his first 11 games with the Cubs. Rizzo is 12-for-25 on the Cubs’ current road trip with two doubles and three home runs … and has reached base safely in all 11 games. Rizzo has shown the ability to make in-bat adjustments but his real test will come after the break when the league starts adjusting to him.

One of Jon Niese’s best starts of the season came at the Cubs expense on June 27. Dale Sveum ran out a right-handed lineup that included Anthony Rizzo and Luis Valbuena. Following Saturday’s game, Sveum said that both Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker will be part of the starting nine this afternoon … Left handed hitters (.246/.303/.313) have had success against Niese this season while right handers (.234/.299/.352) have performed about the same in five times as many plate appearances.

In other news … The 14th Annual Sirius XM All-Star Futures Game begins at 4:00pm CDT this afternoon. XM Radio will broadcast play-by-play coverage of the game that can be seen on ESPN 2 and MLB.com. Jae-Hoon Ha will represent the Cubs’ organization as part of the World Team managed by Bernie Williams. George Brett will call the shots for the US Team. Both rosters are rather impressive and feature some of the top young talent in all of baseball. Nick Castellanos, one of the players rumored to be in the talks with the Tigers for Matt Garza, will also participate in the game.

Brett Jackson was held out of his third straight game Saturday with back spasms.

The final game before the break all starts with Ryan Dempster

Ryan Dempster was lights out in his three starts prior to his surprising trip to the DL with tightness in his right lat. Many thought Dempster was on the verge of being traded at the time, especially with the way he treated his last start at Wrigley against the Red Sox. Dempster figures to be traded soon, some think it could come before the end of the break depending on how he pitches today.

After just a miserable outing on May 30 against the Padres (six runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings) in which he allowed three home runs, two to Carlos Quentin, Dempster was as good as it gets for his next three starts … while apparently dealing with the injury.

Ryan Dempster was 3-0 in three starts with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP in June … only 12 hits and three walks in 22 innings with 12 strikeouts. And Dempster has been very good on the road this season to the tune of a 2-1 record in six starts with a 1.06 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP (34 strikeouts to only six walks in 42 1/3 innings).

Ryan Dempster missed the Mets when they were at Wrigley and owns a 10-5 mark in 26 career games, 15 starts, against the Metropolitans with a 5.30 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. Dempster won his only start against the Mets a year ago after allowing one run on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts in seven innings (1.29 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP) … today will be the first appearance for Dempster at Citi Field.

Mets Career Numbers against Ryan Dempster

  • Ronny Cedeno – 6-for-17 with a double and a walk
  • Ike Davis – 2-for-3
  • Lucas Duda – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Scott Hairston – 1-for-5
  • Daniel Murphy – 2-for-5 with a double and a walk
  • Jon Niese – 2-for-4
  • Ruben Tejada – 3-for-5 with a double
  • Josh Thole – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Andres Torres – 2-for-13
  • Justin Turner – 0-for-3
  • David Wright – 2-for-3 with three walks

Jon Niese built off his best start of the season against the Cubs (one run on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts in seven innings) and put together an even better one against the Phillies. Niese pitched a season-high eight innings and allowed one run (a solo homer by Carlos Ruiz) on three hits with two walks and three strikeouts.

Niese has been the benefactor of a ton of support from his offense. While Niese has allowed two runs in his last two starts the Mets have scored 28 runs (17 against the Cubs, 11 against the Phillies).

After posting a 3-1 record in five starts in June with a 1.89 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP, Niese is 4-1 in his last six outings with a 1.74 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP (38 hits, seven walks and 37 strikeouts in his last 41 1/3 innings). Like Johan Santana, Jon Niese has been very good at Citi Field this season (4-1 in eight starts with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP), his only loss came on June 16 (Reds) and the Mets are 5-3 in his eight home starts.

Jon Niese is 2-2 in five career starts against the Cubs with a 4.73 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Jon Niese

  • Jeff Baker – 4-for-9
  • Darwin Barney – 4-for-6
  • Tony Campana – 1-for-1
  • Starlin Castro – 3-for-9 with a triple
  • Ryan Dempster – 0-for-3
  • Reed Johnson – 2-for-4 with a walk
  • Bryan LaHair – 0-for-1
  • Joe Mather – 3-for-8 with a walk
  • Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-3 with a double
  • Jeff Samardzija – 0-for-1
  • Alfonso Soriano – 3-for-11 with a double and two walks
  • Geovany Soto – 2-for-8 with a double, a home run and two walks
  • Luis Valbuena – 1-for-3 with a double

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Quote of the Day

"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." - Babe Ruth