Talkin’ Cubs Live – Cubs vs. Pirates – 09/15/12

Game One Hundred Forty-Five: Cubs (57-87) vs. Pirates (72-71)
Game Time – 12:05pm CDT
Coverage – TV: Comcast SportsNet – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 183/914
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago

Jason Berken (0-0, -.–/-.–) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (10-13, 3.72/1.26)

The Cubs will try to make it five in a row over the Pirates this afternoon behind Jason Berken. The 28-year old right hander is making his Cubs’ debut this afternoon. The Cubs picked Jason Berken off waivers from the Orioles last week and he will make his first big league start of the season.

Jason Berken is taking Jeff Samardzija’s spot in the rotation, at least for now. The recently shut down Jeff Samardzija finished his season last Saturday night in Pittsburgh. Samardzija went out with the first complete game of his career. Samardzija’s nine-inning performance a week ago was the first time this season a Cubs’ starter pitched all nine innings … and will likely end up being the only complete game of the year for the Cubs.

With the lefty on the hill for Pittsburgh look for Dale Sveum to run out his right-handed lineup this afternoon. Today is the first of back-to-back days against southpaw starters for the Cubs.

This afternoon it all starts with Jason Berken

Jason Berken has appeared in just one big league game this season … and pitched one not-so-good-inning for the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers scored seven runs, two earned, on six hits and a walk in a single frame against Berken on May 7. Both Josh Hamilton and Michael Young launched two run homer of Berken in the ninth inning of a 14-3 O’s loss to the Rangers.

Berken spent a majority of the season in Triple-A. The 28-year old right hander posted a 5-6 record in 26 starts with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. In 144 innings, Berken struck out 98, walked 39 and allowed 144 hits.

Jason Berken has not been a starter at the big league level since the 2009 season. Berken was 6-12 in 24 starts for Baltimore three seasons ago with a 6.54 ERA and a 1.74 WHIP. That season, Berken struck out 66 batters, issued 44 free passes and allowed 164 hits in 119 2/3 innings. Berken pitched in 81 games out of the Orioles’ pen in 2010 (41) and 2011 (40) with similar results.

It is unclear what the Cubs’ regime expects out of Jason Berken for the remainder of the season … other than a pitcher that could eat innings as a starter. Berken’s last big league start came on October 2, 2009 and he beat the Blue Jays in Baltimore.

Jason Berken has faced the Pirates once in his career and completed two perfect frames as a reliever on June 20 of last season.

Pirates Career Numbers against Jason Berken

  • Rod Barajas – 1-for-4
  • Michael McKenry – 0-for-1
  • Gaby Sanchez – 1-for-2
  • Travis Snider – 1-for-5
  • Jose Tabata – 0-for-1

The Cubs will get their first look this afternoon at Wandy Rodriguez in a Pirates’ uniform. The long-time Astro has not faced the Cubs since he was dealt to the Bucs on July 24 for Colton Cain, Robbie Grossman and Rudy Owens.

Rodriguez has been solid for the Pirates. In nine games, eight starts, Rodriguez is 3-4 with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. The Pirates are 4-5 in his nine starts and he’s coming off a no decision to the Reds.

After posting back-to-back wins against the Cardinals and Astros, Rodriguez ran into the Reds in Cincinnati and allowed three runs on three hits with a walk and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings … the Pirates lost, 4-3.

Wandy Rodriguez is 1-0 in his last two starts with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP (three runs on seven hits with two walks and 12 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings) and will face the Cubs for the third time this season.

Rodriguez is 1-1 in two starts against the Cubs this season with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP and for his career, 6-7 in 21 starts with a 3.84 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. At Wrigley Field, Rodriguez owns a 2-5 mark in 12 starts with a 4.97 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP.

Cubs Career Numbers against Wandy Rodriguez

  • Darwin Barney – 4-for-16 with a walk
  • Tony Campana – 0-for-1
  • Welington Castillo – 1-for-1
  • Starlin Castro – 3-for-17 with two walks
  • David DeJesus – 1-for-4 with a walk
  • Joe Mather – 1-for-13 with a double
  • Anthony Rizzo – 1-for-3
  • Dave Sappelt – 0-for-3
  • Alfonso Soriano – 4-for-38 with a home run and three walks
  • Luis Valbuena – 1-for-3

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