Game Thirty-Five: Cubs (13-21) vs. Nationals (19-15)
- Game Time – 6:05pm CDT
- Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channels 183/844
- Location – Nationals Park, Washington D.C.
Jeff Samardzija (1-4, 3.09/1.17) vs. Ross Detwiler (1-3, 2.50/1.39)
After a much-needed day off, Dale Sveum’s team hits the road for a brief three game trip to the Nation’s Capital, then right back to Wrigley for a six game homestand next week against the Rockies and Metropolitans.
Jeff Samardzija faces lefty Ross Detwiler in the first of three with the Nationals. It will be interesting to see tonight’s starting lineup with Dave Sappelt no longer in the mix. Sveum should run out a majority of his right-handed lineup that includes Scott Hairston, who is 5-for-9 in his career against Detwiler with three doubles and a home run.
Edwin Jackson is scheduled to face Stephen Strasburg and his former team on Saturday afternoon, if the weather cooperates. Scott Feldman then closes out the series on Sunday against Gio Gonzalez. The Cubs are just 3-6 against left handers this season and they are scheduled to face two very good southpaws over the next three games.
The last time the Cubs and Nationals squared off in D.C. there was a little disagreement between Jamie Quirk and the then Nationals’ third base coach, Bo Porter. The disagreement escalated, the benches emptied and the Cubs not only lost the game but also lost the rumble on the way to dropping all four in D.C. Ross Detwiler topped Jeff Samardzija in the series opener last September and the Cubs dropped six of the seven games a year ago to the eventual NL East Champs.
After a rough start to the season, the Nationals have won six of seven and are playing pretty good ball of late, plus Jayson Werth is expected back in the lineup this weekend.
Kyuji Fujikawa was activated from the 15-day DL on Friday in time for tonight’s opener. If Fujikawa is healthy, he should help the backend of the bullpen. Fujikawa will reportedly return to an eighth inning setup role. Rafael Dolis was optioned down to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster for Fujikawa.
Tonight all starts with Jeff Samardzija …
Jeff Samardzija is coming off another quality start but another no decision. Samardzija limited the Reds to two runs, one earned, on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts in six innings his last time out. Samardzija once again was not as sharp as he was early in the season but he still put his team in position to win the game (2-5 in Samardzija’s seven starts). Samardzija left after six innings with a 4-2 lead but Marmol happened and spoiled the Soriano Show.
Samardzija has really struggled over his last three starts with free passes that are elevating his pitch count. Samardzija has not pitched past the sixth inning in five of his last six starts, including the last three in a row. After walking only seven batters in his first four games, Samardzija has walked 10 in his last 17 innings while striking out 21 batters. Samardzija, like most pitchers, must maintain a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio, not the 2:1 ratio from his last three starts. Samardzija becomes a lot more predictable when he starts walking batters while having a tendency to overthrow his fastball.
The Cubs need for Samardzija to take the next step in his development. Limit the walks and start pitching deeper into games.
Samardzija is 1-3 in four starts outside of Wrigley this season (3.04 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP) and will make his third career start against the Nationals tonight. Samardzija is 1-1 in two starts, nine appearances, against the Nationals with a 1.48 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP … last season, 1-1 in two starts with a 1.15 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP (11 hits, one walk and 16 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings) and at Nationals Park, 0-1 in one start, five appearances, with a 1.32 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP.
Nationals Career Numbers against Jeff Samardzija
- Roger Bernadina – 2-for-6
- Ian Desmond – 5-for-10 with two doubles
- Ross Detwiler – 0-for-2
- Danny Espinosa – 2-for-7
- Bryce Harper – 0-for-3
- Adam LaRoche – 2-for-8 with two home runs
- Wilson Ramos – 2-for-6
- Denard Span – 1-for-3 with a double
- Kurt Suzuki – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Chad Tracy – 0-for-2
- Jayson Werth – 3-for-13 with a home run and a walk
- Ryan Zimmerman – 0-for-11
Ross Detwiler is off to a better start to his season than his record indicates. Detwiler has lost his last three starts due to very little run support. Detwiler has not pitched past the sixth inning but has not allowed more than three earned runs in his last three outings while the Nationals offense has managed a total of three runs over that span.
Detwiler is coming off a loss to the Pirates in which he allowed three runs on six hits with two walks and five strikeouts in five innings.
The Cubs will see a lot of strikes from the southpaw tonight. In 36 innings, Detwiler has walked only eight batters. The key to Detwiler is playing smart baseball. Detwiler will give up hits (42 in 36 innings), it will be up to the Cubs to push across the runs.
Ross Detwiler has yet to win a game at home this season (0-2 in three starts with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.56 WHIP) and will face the Cubs for the fourth time in his career tonight. Detwiler owns a 2-1 record in three starts versus the Cubs with a 2.60 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP … and he tossed seven shutout innings against Jeff Samardzija and the Cubs last year while allowing just four hits, three walks and three strikeouts.
Cubs Career Numbers against Ross Detwiler
- Darwin Barney – 0-for-5 with a walk
- Welington Castillo – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Starlin Castro – 3-for-6 with a double
- Scott Hairston – 5-for-9 with three doubles and a home run
- Dioner Navarro – 0-for-2 with a walk
- Cody Ransom – 0-for-7 with a walk
- Anthony Rizzo – 0-for-3
- Jeff Samardzija – 0-for-1
- Nate Schierholtz – 1-for-3 with a double
- Alfonso Soriano – 2-for-7 with a double
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball …