Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Astros – 09/10/12

Game One Hundred Forty-One: Cubs (54-86) vs. Astros (44-96)
Game Time – 7:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186/914
Location – Minute Maid Park, Houston

Chris Volstad (2-10, 6.23/1.53) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-7, 5.54/1.52)

The Cubs’ ten-game road trip (3-4) continues tonight with their last trip of the year to Houston. The Cubs open a three-game series in Houston for the last time with the Astros being a division rival. The Cubs are 5-4 against the Astros this year with six games remaining on the schedule.

The Cubs and Astros seasons have pretty much played out as many thought and with the two teams closing in on 100 loses for the season it would be the first time since 2002 that two teams in the same division lost 100 games (AL Central, Kansas City Royals and Detroit Tigers).

As for the pitching matchups for the series, both teams are auditioning players for next season and beyond. After tonight’s matchup of Chris Volstad and lefty Dallas Keuchel, Justin Germano is scheduled to face Jordan Lyles on Tuesday night with Travis Wood and lefty Fernando Abad expected to square off in Wednesday’s finale.

Dale Sveum should run out his everyday lineup tonight, with the exception of Brett Jackson. The Cubs said Jackson would be held out of tonight’s lineup in order to give him more time to recover from his collision with the wall on Friday night. Right-handers (.278/.359/.372 with nine doubles and seven home runs) and left-handers (.281/.339/.424 with three doubles and three home runs) have had an equal amount of success against Dallas Keuchel this season … and throughout his professional career.

Tonight it all starts with Chris Volstad

Chris Volstad returned to his early season form in his last outing. Volstad had shown a lot of improvement since being recalled on August 4 and posted two wins in a row. Volstad could not find a rhythm and the Nationals scored five of their nine runs off Volstad. The “one big inning” hurt Volstad once again. The Nationals scored four runs in the third on three home runs.

In his seven starts since August 4, Volstad is 2-3 with a 4.35 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP.

Chris Volstad has struggled on the road (0-5 in seven starts with a 6.69 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP) more than at Wrigley Field (2-5 in nine starts with a 5.83 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP) this season and will face the Astros for the second time this season.

The Astros beat Volstad at Wrigley back on August 14. Houston scored four of their 10 runs off Volstad in five innings. Volstad allowed four runs on eight hits with no walks and three strikeouts in five innings of work.

For his career, Chris Volstad is 3-1 in six starts against the Astros with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP … at Minute Maid Park, no record in one start with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.

Astros Career Numbers against Chris Volstad

  • Jose Altuve – 2-for-3 with a double
  • Brandon Barnes – 0-for-2
  • Brian Bogusevic – 1-for-4
  • Jason Castro – 0-for-2 with a walk
  • Carlos Corporan – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Tyler Greene – 4-for-11 with a double
  • Fernando Martinez – 1-for-5 with a double
  • Justin Maxwell – 1-for-2 with a double and a walk
  • Scott Moore – 1-for-2 with a double
  • Chris Snyder – 3-for-10 with a home run
  • Brett Wallace – 3-for-9 with a double and a home run

Lefty Dallas Keuchel has struggled in his first 12 big league games. Keuchel is coming off a loss to the Giants in which he gave up five runs, four earned, on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts in five innings. After showing promise with three straight quality starts, Keuchel has really had issues in his last two outings.

After beginning his season 1-1 in his first four starts with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP that included a complete game against the Indians on June 23, Keuchel is 0-6 in his last eight starts with a 7.46 ERA and a 1.63 WHIP.

Baseball America ranked Dallas Keuchel the 21st best prospect in the Astros’ system prior to the season. The 24-year old lefty posted a 6-4 record in 16 starts at the Triple-A level before his promotion with a 3.90 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. In 92 1/3 innings, Keuchel struck out 50 batters, walked 20 and gave up 92 hits. Keuchel is a sinkerballer and will pitch inside despite throwing a fastball that sits in the mid to high 80s. Keuchel relies on movement and location, not velocity to get hitters out.

Dallas Keuchel has pitched much better at home (1-3 in seven starts with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP) this season than on the road (0-4 in five starts with a 9.41 ERA and a 2.23 WHIP) and will face the Cubs for the first time in his career tonight … and no one on the Cubs’ active roster has faced Keuchel in a big league ballgame.

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Quote of the Day

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